UFC: Zhang Weili says she is blocking out the trolls and haters – ‘I think this is growth’
- Chinese star seemingly unfazed by champion Carla Esparza’s comments, and reveals new mindset to go along with physical adjustments
- Zhang’s new approach seems to be paying dividends, signing lucrative Under Armour and Pepsi deals following her UFC 275 win
China’s Zhang Weili does not seem bothered by the recent comments of Carla Esparza – something in fitting with the recent changes she has made to her mindset, to go along with her physical adjustments in the UFC Octagon.
Zhang, the former strawweight champion, returned to action at UFC 275 in Singapore this month, scoring a highlight-reel knockout over retiring MMA legend Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
The victory guaranteed the 32-year-old a crack at reigning strawweight queen Carla Esparza – company president Dana White confirmed that plan before and after the fight – but the American champion has recently expressed some reluctance to accept the match-up.
Neither remark seems to be troubling the Chinese star, who issued a quick response on her social media channels.
“Actually, we’ve been fighting for two rounds,” Zhang wrote on Instagram. “Go ahead. Continue. Let’s go champ.”
Zhang seems to be making great efforts to block out the negativity of late. The former champion has been doing much of her training in relative seclusion at Bangtao Muay Thai & MMA in Phuket, Thailand, and claims to no longer be bothered by her naysayers.
“I just realised something,” she said in a recent video posted to her social media channels. “Before, when I see people trolling and hating on me, I would feel wronged, upset, want to clap back.
“But now when I see people trolling and hating on me, I feel nothing at all. I think this is growth. I think it’s so funny. I don’t feel anything, any discomfort inside. I think this is growth. Let’s go.”
The former champ’s new approach to her career seems to be paying dividends. Not only was her recent win over Jedrzejczyk among the best of her career to date, but she has also signed lucrative new advertising deals with Pepsi and Under Armour.
Zhang (22-3) captured the UFC strawweight title with a first-round knockout victory over Jessica Andrade in Shenzhen, China in 2019. She then defended the title once, defeating Jedrzejczyk by split decision in an all-time classic.
Zhang surrendered the title in early 2021, succumbing to a first-round head kick from Rose Namajunas. She then lost a split decision to Namajunas in an immediate rematch, failing to reclaim the title as a result.
Esparza (19-6) became the champion when she defeated Namajunas by split decision at UFC 274 last month.
The American holds the distinction of being the division’s inaugural champion, having defeated Namajunas by submission to win the belt back in 2014. She lost it to Jedrzejczyk in her first defence.