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UFC women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili before her fight with former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248. Photo: AP

UFC: Zhang Weili to fight Rose Namajunas ‘this year and in Asia,’ says Dana White

  • China’s strawweight champion has not fought since beating Joanna Jedrzejczyk in Fight of the Year last March
  • ‘Thug Rose’ remains top choice with Carla Esparza next in line as fans await fight confirmation
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UFC boss Dana White wants strawweight champion Zhang Weili to fight Rose Namajunas “this year and in Asia”.

Speaking to the promotion’s broadcast partner ESPN, White moved to clear up the next step for the Chinese fighter, who has not fought since she beat Poland’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the Fight of the Year at UFC 248 last March.

White sparked confusion over a possible title fight with “Thug Rose”, claiming that the Lithuanian-American did not want to take the challenge, which her team denied.

Now it appears that Namajunas remains White’s first choice for Zhang’s next bout and at some point this year.

“We’re working on her, too,” White said of the strawweight champion. “Obviously, the fight everybody wants to see is her and Rose.

“Hopefully we can get that done. If not, the next one in line would probably be Carla Esparza. We’re looking to do that fight this year – and in Asia.”

Zhang won the title in China at UFC Fight Night 157 in Shenzhen in August 2019, when she beat Brazilian Jessica Andrade.

That was the UFC’s third event in the country following Shanghai in 2017 and Beijing a year later.

All UFC events in the US since May 2020 have been held in either Jacksonville, Florida, or their performance centre in Las Vegas, with the only fights outside the US held at “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.

The five fighters UFC champ Zhang Weili could face next

It remains unclear where in Asia that White would like to hold Zhang’s next fight.