Zhang Weili, the shining star of China’s mixed martial arts (MMA) scene, showcased her unmatched prowess in the strawweight division with a resounding unanimous decision victory against Amanda Lemos during UFC 292’s co-main event on August 20. This triumphant defense of her title marks a significant milestone in her illustrious career.
Back in Beijing after her phenomenal win, Zhang’s reflections transitioned to infusing more of the rich Chinese culture into her fighting techniques. Gracious in her win, she acknowledged the immense resilience of Lemos. “Witnessing her regain focus after my punches revealed her extraordinary willpower,” Zhang commented. Her admiration extended so much that she questioned if she could have endured similar ferocity from Lemos.
Although some critics may point out her perceived deficiencies in ground-fighting, Zhang’s recent victory is a testament to her mastery in this aspect. She remarked, “It’s a misconception that my ground game is weak. In fact, my initial ten MMA wins were grounded victories.”
The term “hexagon warrior,” which her fans lovingly coined, reflects their admiration for her all-rounded skills. However, Zhang remains humble, admitting there’s room for improvement. “I’m continuously striving to refine all facets of my combat abilities,” she stated.
Zhang’s strategy against Lemos encapsulated Bruce Lee’s philosophy, “Be water, my friend.” She wrapped around her opponent seamlessly, adapting and responding to every move with precision. She reminisced about understanding this philosophy in her youth but only recently grasping its profound depth. This fluid approach, combined with principles like the balance of yin and yang, offers her a distinctive edge in the octagon.
Originating from Handan in North China’s Hebei Province, Zhang’s journey from a disciplined childhood to an MMA sensation is nothing short of inspiring. Engaging with martial arts at just 12, she defied societal norms where few girls in China pursued this path. Today, she stands as a beacon of hope, inspiring countless in her homeland and globally.
In 2022, Zhang’s passion for martial arts led her to embrace tai chi, a traditional Chinese martial art form. She observed, “When I incorporated tai chi’s principles, I noticed a harmonious blend of strength and suppleness in my wrestling techniques.”
Zhang’s monumental achievements have stimulated a surge in MMA participation among Chinese youth. She believes victories are not mere outcomes of numerous defeats, challenging the popular belief that success is built on multiple failures. Contrary to this, she emphasizes the journey, stating, “Every practice session imparts invaluable lessons.”
As Zhang Weili continues her ascent in the MMA world, her blend of ancient Chinese wisdom with contemporary fighting techniques is not just a testament to her skill but also a beacon for aspiring fighters across the globe.