Weili Zhang is heading into her rematch with Rose Namajunas with a whole new outlook.
UFC 268 goes down on Saturday night live from Madison Square Garden in New York. This could be the biggest event of the year. The co-main event will feature a strawweight title fight between Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang. This fight is a rematch and Zhang is taking what she learned in the last fight and making the necessary alterations, both mentally and physically.
“After the fight, everybody was surprised by the result,” Zhang said on her YouTube channel. “Then Dana said there might be a rematch. The mentality I had before was to go there and learn from each other. Then I went and found out it wasn’t like that at all. So I think I need to take it really seriously now, see the fight like a war. In there, you can’t be distracted even for 0.01 seconds, whether it’s just before the fight or in camp.”
As for the physical preparation, Zhang has enlisted the help of former two-division champion Henry Cejudo. Zhang has been training with Cejudo and the pair have been issuing some warnings to Namajunas. The first fight ended early in the first round with a head kick that knocked out Zhang. Despite the nature of the loss, Zhang feels that the majority of the pressure still rests on Namajunas.
“Last time, there were all kinds of factors. I think this time I would focus more on myself instead of watching the outside stuff. After our first fight, my coach kept telling me that the next will mostly be about mental game,” Zhang said. “At this level, we’re all close technically. It’s all about who is more mentally steady. I think for the rematch, her psychological pressure might be greater than mine.”
If there is more pressure on the champion, then Namajunas might have a leg up. This is not her first rodeo as champ. She successfully defended her title once before, the first time she was champion. In fact, Namajunas is undefeated in New York and seems to thrive on the biggest stages. If Namajunas can pull off another win over Zhang at UFC 268, she could be securing a legacy for herself as the company’s strawweight queen.
Who do you think will take home the strawweight title at UFC 268?