Zhang Weili picked up one of the most important victories of her career at last Sunday’s UFC 275 event in Singapore, but you wouldn’t know it based on the post-fight headlines. The Chinese star, 32, was back in action in the middle bout of the event’s main card, taking on a fellow former strawweight champ in Joanna Jedrzejczyk. It was the second time the pair had met, after Zhang defeated her 34-year-old Polish rival by decision in an all-time classic back in 2020. The second time around, Zhang won in decisive fashion, sending her foe crashing to the canvas with a spinning back-fist in the second round. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Weili Zhang 张伟丽 (@zhangweilimma) Under ordinary circumstances, it was the kind of highlight-reel win that would keep fans talking for weeks to come. Yet Zhang’s incredible victory has been largely overshadowed by several other post-fight storylines – most notably Jedrzejczyk’s retirement. Once the Polish star had regained consciousness and collected herself, she removed her gloves and put them down in the centre of the Octagon – a symbolic gesture that has been made my many retiring fighters of the years. She then made it official in her post-fight interview with commentator Daniel Cormier, who is a retired former champion himself. “Guys, I love life so much,” she said after her loss to Zhang. “I’m retired, guys. I love you so much. Thank you for the support.” UFC: Joanna hopes to be remembered, as fans wait behind to hail legend Jedrzejczyk is a bona fide MMA legend and a shoo-in for the UFC Hall of Fame. She is arguably the greatest strawweight of all time, with five title defences to her credit, and one of the most influential female fighters in the sport’s history, taking up the torch from Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano before her. All of the praise she is receiving as she rides off into the sunset is deserved. It is unfortunate, though, that her retirement has distracted from Zhang’s victory. It’s not just that Zhang’s knockout victory was flashy. It was also of paramount importance to her continued credibility as one of the sport’s top fighters. Heading into UFC 275, she had lost her last two fights, first losing the strawweight title to Rose Namajunas by first-round knockout, then losing a decision to Namajunas in an immediate bid to reclaim the belt. It was made clear ahead of time that the winner of her rematch with Jedrzejczyk would receive a crack at new strawweight champion Carla Esparza, but a third loss in a row would have been disastrous for her standing in the weight class, and likely would have pushed her out of title contention altogether. It would have been quite a tumble for a woman who, after winning the title with a first-round knockout of Jessica Andrade in Shenzhen, China in 2019, was widely expected to rule over the division for years to come. The former champion evidently sensed the gravity of the situation, and moved much of her UFC 275 training camp to Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket, Thailand, far from the flashing cameras and distractions that have dogged her in the lead-up to other recent fights. ‘Training in paradise’: Bangtao MMA gym changing the game in Phuket Then, after weeks of diligent training and almost total silence at the beachside facility, she returned to the limelight in Singapore, and picked up arguably the most impressive victory of her career to date. But very few people are talking about it. Instead, most of the post-fight coverage has focused on Jedrzejczyk’s retirement, or Valentina Shevchenko’s razor-close win over Taila Santos in the UFC 275 co-main event, or Jiri Prochazka ’s thrilling victory over Glover Teixeira in the card’s headliner. That’s a real shame. Then again, it probably won’t bother Zhang. In fact, this might be just what the former champion wants. We’ve now seen what she is capable of when she is undistracted and unencumbered – when she can really focus on the challenge at hand. It’s totally possible that, as the fight world fixates on Jedrzejczyk’s retirement, Zhang is already quietly plotting her path to victory against the champion Esparza.