Zhang Weili (Chinese: 张伟丽; pinyin: Zhāng Wěilì; born August 13, 1989) is a Chinese mixed martial artist. She is the former Kunlun Fight (KLF) strawweight champion and competes in the strawweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), where she is a former UFC Women's Strawweight Champion. She is the first ever Chinese champion in UFC history. As of May 9, 2022, she is #2 in the UFC women's strawweight rankings and as of December 13, 2021, she is #5 in UFC women's pound-for-pound rankings.
August 13, 1989
Handan, Hebei, China
|Height||5 ft 4 in (1.63 m)|
|Weight||115 lb (52 kg; 8.2 st)|
|Reach||63 in (160 cm)|
|Fighting out of||Beijing, China|
|Team||Black Tiger Fight Club|
Fight Ready (2021-present)
|Trainer||Xuejun Cai (MMA) |
Pedro Jordão (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu)
|Rank||Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Pedro Jordão|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Zhang was born in Handan, Hebei, China. Her father is a retired mine digger, and her mother is a housewife. She has one older brother, who quit his job as a gold trader to support Zhang's career, and now works at the gym where she trains.
She started training in martial arts at a young age, beginning at 6 with Shaolin Kung Fu under the tutelage of a local master, after she was inspired by Kung Fu films. In primary school, she practiced many sports including athletics, football and table tennis. When she was 12, her parents sent her to a specialized martial arts school in Handan where she began training in Sanda and a Chinese style of wrestling called Shuai jiao. After winning Sanda championships of the Hebei province multiple times, she was selected for the Jiangsu province Sanda team, however a recurring back injury sustained in training forced her to quit the sport early.
At the age of 17 she moved to Beijing, where she worked various odd jobs: cashier at a supermarket, kindergarten teacher, security guard and hotel desk clerk. In 2010 she found a job at a local Beijing gym as a fitness instructor, and was allowed to use their equipment for free after the gym closed in the evenings. During that time she would also pick up Brazilian jiu-jitsu, after watching others grappling there. She later switched to a front desk job, through which she got to know fighters who trained at the gym, one of them being her idol Wu Haotian, a pioneer of Chinese MMA. After they became acquainted in 2012, Haotian brought her to Black Tiger Fight Club. There, she was noticed by coach Cai Xuejun, who recognized her potential and started training her in MMA.
In a Chinese television show in December 2019, she mentioned that Hong Kong Action Superstar Donnie Yen was her inspiration to compete in MMA, and that Donnie Yen's 2007 feature film Flashpoint was her first introduction to the sport of MMA. She also credited Ronda Rousey, and particularly her fight with Liz Carmouche in 2013, as giving her the motivation to quit her job and pursue MMA full-time.
Mixed martial arts careerEdit
Zhang made her professional MMA debut in 2013. After losing her professional debut to Meng Bo by unanimous decision, she would go on to win 11 straight fights before challenging Simone Duarte for the Kunlun Fight Female Strawweight Championship on May 25, 2017, at Kunlun Fight MMA 11. She won the fight via TKO in the second round.
On July 22, 2017, Zhang attempted to win a second title, when she challenged Seo Ye-dam (서예담) for the vacant Top FC Strawweight Championship at TOP FC 15. She won the fight via TKO in the second round to capture the title.
Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit
UFC Strawweight ChampionEdit
Zhang faced Jéssica Andrade for the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship on August 31, 2019, at UFC Fight Night 157. She won the fight via first-round technical knockout to become the new strawweight champion. The win also earned Zhang her first Performance of the Night bonus award.
In the first defense of her title, Zhang faced former strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk on March 7, 2020, at UFC 248. Zhang moved her training camp from China to Thailand and later moved to Dubai due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as TSA rules stated a two-week quarantine was imposed for any non-US citizen be granted entry to the United States if they had recently been in China. After multiple failed attempts to obtain a US visa to fight in UFC's events in the US, on February 19, 2020, Zhang was granted US visa to fight at UFC 248. Zhang won the back–and–forth fight via split decision, which marked her first successful title defense. This win also marked her first Fight of the Night award. This bout was considered by many pundits as the greatest fight in women's MMA history.
In the second defense of her title, Zhang faced former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas on April 24, 2021, at UFC 261. She lost the fight by knockout early in the first round after getting caught with a head kick.
A rematch between Zhang and Namajunas for the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship took place on November 6, 2021 at UFC 268. After a back and forth bout, Weili lost the fight via split decision. 14 out of 22 media scores gave it to Namajunas.
In May 2020, it was announced that Zhang became a brand ambassador for cosmetics brand Estée Lauder in China, and was chosen as a face of their new makeup line Double Wear. In the same year, she appeared in a commercial for Audi. In 2021, she was named a global ambassador for recovery technology company Hyperice. She also had endorsement deals with clothing brands Under Armour and Heilan Home, e-commerce company JingDong and alcoholic beverage company Wusu Beer.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
Mixed martial artsEdit
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- UFC Women's Strawweight Championship (One time)
- One successful title defense
- First ever Chinese champion in UFC history
- Fight of the Night (One time) vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
- Performance of the Night (One time) vs. Jéssica Andrade
- 2020 Fight of the Year vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
- 2020 UFC President's Choice Fight of the Year vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
- UFC Women's Strawweight Championship (One time)
- Kunlun Fight
- Top Fighting Championship
- Top FC Strawweight Champion (One time)
- World MMA Awards
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- MMA Fighting
- The Athletic
- Bleacher Report
- Cageside Press
- BT Sport
- MMA Weekly
- Combat Press
Mixed martial arts recordEdit
|Professional record breakdown|
|24 matches||21 wins||3 losses|
|Loss||21–3||Rose Namajunas||Decision (split)||UFC 268||November 6, 2021||5||5:00||New York City, New York, United States||For the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship.|
|Loss||21–2||Rose Namajunas||KO (head kick)||UFC 261||April 24, 2021||1||1:18||Jacksonville, Florida, United States||Lost the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship.|
|Win||21–1||Joanna Jędrzejczyk||Decision (split)||UFC 248||March 7, 2020||5||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States||Defended the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship. Fight of the Night.|
|Win||20–1||Jéssica Andrade||TKO (knees and punches)||UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs. Zhang||August 31, 2019||1||0:42||Shenzhen, China||Won the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship. Performance of the Night.|
|Win||19–1||Tecia Torres||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 235||March 2, 2019||3||5:00||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||18–1||Jessica Aguilar||Submission (armbar)||UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Ngannou 2||November 24, 2018||1||3:41||Beijing, China|
|Win||17–1||Danielle Taylor||Decision (unanimous)||UFC 227||August 4, 2018||3||5:00||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Win||16–1||Bianca Sattelmayer||Submission (armbar)||Kunlun Fight MMA 15||October 3, 2017||1||3:29||Seoul, South Korea||Catchweight (119 lb) bout.|
|Win||15–1||Marilia Santos||TKO (elbows)||Kunlun Fight MMA 14||August 28, 2017||2||3:20||Yantai, China||Defended the Kunlun Fight Strawweight Championship.|
|Win||14–1||Ye Dam Seo||TKO (elbow and punches)||Top FC 15||July 22, 2017||2||1:35||Seoul, South Korea||Won the vacant Top FC Strawweight Championship.|
|Win||13–1||Aline Sattelmayer||Decision (unanimous)||Kunlun Fight MMA 12||June 1, 2017||3||5:00||Yantai, China||Defended the Kunlun Fight Strawweight Championship.|
|Win||12–1||Simone Duarte||TKO (punches)||Kunlun Fight MMA 11||May 25, 2017||1||2:29||Jining, China||Won the Kunlun Fight Strawweight Championship.|
|Win||11–1||Nayara Hemily||Submission (guillotine choke)||Kunlun Fight MMA 9||February 25, 2017||1||0:41||Sanya, China|
|Win||10–1||Veronica Grenno||TKO (knees to the body)||Kunlun Fight MMA 8||January 2, 2017||1||1:50||Sanya, China|
|Win||9–1||Karla Benitez||KO (punch)||Kunlun Fight MMA 7||December 15, 2016||1||2:15||Beijing, China||Defended the Kunlun Fight Strawweight Championship.|
|Win||8–1||Maíra Mazar||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Kunlun Fight 53||September 24, 2016||1||4:11||Beijing, China||Won the vacant Kunlun Fight Strawweight Championship.|
|Win||7–1||Emi Fujino||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Kunlun Fight 49||August 7, 2016||2||2:51||Tokyo, Japan||Return to Strawweight.|
|Win||6–1||Liliya Kazak||KO (head kick)||Kunlun Fight 47||July 10, 2016||2||4:13||Nanjing, China|
|Win||5–1||Alice Ardelean||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Kunlun Fight MMA 5 / Top FC 11||May 22, 2016||2||4:41||Seoul, South Korea||Flyweight debut.|
|Win||4–1||Svetlana Gotsyk||TKO (punches)||Kunlun Fight 38 / Super Muaythai 2016||February 21, 2016||2||2:29||Pattaya, Thailand|
|Win||3–1||Samantha Jean-Francois||TKO (punches)||Kunlun Fight 35||December 19, 2015||1||3:37||Luoyang, China|
|Win||2–1||Mei Huang||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Chinese Kung Fu Championships||October 27, 2014||1||0:40||China||Catchweight (132 lb) bout.|
|Win||1–1||Shuxia Wu||Submission (armbar)||Chinese Kung Fu Championships||April 17, 2014||1||1:56||China||Catchweight (132 lb) bout.|
|Loss||0–1||Meng Bo||Decision (unanimous)||China MMA League||November 9, 2013||2||5:00||Xuchang, China||Strawweight debut.|
|Professional record breakdown|
|4 matches||2 wins||2 losses|
|Loss||2–2||Guan Acui||Decision||Kunlun Fight 68||December 17, 2017||3||3:00||Zunyi, China||Tournament final.|
|Win||2–1||Chang Ningning||Decision||Kunlun Fight 68||December 17, 2017||3||3:00||Zunyi, China||Tournament semifinal.|
|Win||1–1||Alma Juniku||Decision||Kunlun Fight 68||December 17, 2017||3||3:00||Zunyi, China||Tournament quarterfinal.|
|Loss||0–1||Satoko Sasaki||Decision (Unanimous)||Krush 35||December 14, 2013||3||3:00||Tokyo, Japan|
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