Women's Activism NYC

Weili Zhang

1989 - Today

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Weili Zhang, born on August 13, 1989, in Handan, Hebei, China, is a prominent Chinese mixed martial artist currently competing in the women's Strawweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). With an impressive fighting style and determination, Zhang has carved her path to become the current and two-time UFC Women's Strawweight Champion. Zhang's journey in martial arts began at a young age when she started training in Shaolin Kung Fu after being inspired by Kung Fu films. Her passion for sports led her to excel in various disciplines, including athletics, football, and table tennis. At the age of 12, Zhang enrolled in a specialized martial arts school in Handan, where she trained in Sanda and Shuai jiao, a Chinese style of wrestling. Despite facing setbacks due to a recurring back injury, Zhang's dedication to martial arts never wavered. She moved to Beijing at the age of 17 and took on different odd jobs to support herself. It was during this time that she discovered Brazilian jiu-jitsu and began training in MMA. Her talent and potential were recognized by coach Cai Xuejun, who played a pivotal role in honing her skills. Zhang's inspiration to compete in MMA came from Hong Kong Action Superstar Donnie Yen and the 2007 film "Flashpoint." She also drew motivation from Ronda Rousey's fight with Liz Carmouche, which inspired her to pursue MMA as a full-time career. In her professional MMA career, Zhang made her debut in 2013 and quickly rose through the ranks. Before joining the UFC, she competed in Kunlun Fight (KLF) and became the KLF Women's Strawweight Champion. Since her debut in the UFC, Zhang has showcased her exceptional skills and determination, capturing the attention of the MMA world. Her breakthrough moment came on August 31, 2019, when she faced Jéssica Andrade for the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship. Zhang's remarkable performance led to a first-round technical knockout, making her the first-ever Chinese UFC champion. Zhang's resilience and fighting spirit were further displayed in her first title defense against former champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk in a highly acclaimed fight. She successfully defended her title via split decision, solidifying her status as one of the top fighters in women's MMA. While Zhang experienced a setback in her second title defense against Rose Namajunas, losing by knockout, she made a triumphant return in her rematch against Joanna Jędrzejczyk, securing a knockout victory with a spinning backfist. Most recently, on November 12, 2022, Zhang reclaimed the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship by defeating Carla Esparza with a rear-naked choke submission in the second round. Weili Zhang's remarkable journey and accomplishments in MMA have not only made her a role model for aspiring fighters but have also elevated the profile of Chinese athletes in the global MMA scene. With her tenacity, skill, and unwavering determination, Zhang continues to make a significant impact in the world of mixed martial arts.

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