The UFC strawweight champion won the title a second time this previous November at UFC 281, wanting a cramped bit better than two rounds to avoid wasting away Carla Esparza with a rear-naked choke. It changed into Esparza’s first protection after her second salvage over Namajunas, a fighter who holds two title wrestle wins over Zhang.
Esparza and Namajunas’ five-spherical wrestle at UFC 274 changed into extensively panned, with some calling it the worst title wrestle in the promotion’s historic previous, however Zhang understands why “Thug Rose” can also now now not had been at her simplest on that evening.
“I skilled the same thing,” Zhang stated on The MMA Hour with support from a translator. “As soon as you change into the champ, there’s a large quantity of stress on you to protect up onto the belt dearly, and I felt the same thing sooner than. So I rating of observe what she went through.
“I mediate that Rose main to protect up the belt and have a enjoyable wrestle, and that’s very now now not going.”
Zhang first turned UFC champion with a beautiful first-spherical knockout of Jessica Andrade in 2019. She efficiently defended the title as soon as, getting previous Joanna Jedrzejczyk by split decision at UFC 248 in an on the spot traditional. She then dropped the belt to Namajunas and misplaced a call to Namajunas in the rematch.
Embarking on her second walk at the discontinue, Zhang stated this time will seemingly be diversified because she has a definite viewpoint on what being a champion methodology.
“I don’t have stress now,” she stated. “I need to surpass myself, lope beyond the feeble version of Weili. The belt itself is correct one thing that’s proof for me to rate that I withhold on enhancing. That’s the system that I understanding at it now.”
“Obviously, you might as well’t be the champ eternally, no subject who you might as well very effectively be. I issue at the [UFC Performance Institute] every single day, when I come up, there’s a image of Hall of Fame opponents, enormous opponents, historic figures from the MMA game, and these other folks, they rating now now not appear to be champions eternally. So I observe that. One day, no subject occurs, correct now I can correct point of curiosity on transferring forward.”
Namajunas has now now not competed for the reason that loss to Esparza this previous Could per chance presumably and is at prove with out a wrestle. A documentary about her lifestyles titled Thug Rose changed into lately released on UFC Fight Pass and at the side of her name in the headlines again, it’s now now not out of the realm of probability that she steps correct support into one other title wrestle with two wins over the original champion on her resume.
For Zhang, there’s no cause to bustle into a third wrestle with Namajunas, although she thinks it’s an inevitability.
“I composed need to fulfill her again for certain, maybe now now not straight, the next title protection,” Zhang stated. “Nonetheless we’ll positively walk into one another down the avenue.”