Sunday, June 26, 2022

Zhang Insists On Neutral Site For Esparza Fight To Keep Things ‘Fair’

It would seem that Zhang Weili is in no big hurry to fight in the United States again.

Zhang Weili is without question one of the best strawweights walking planet Earth. She did nothing but strengthen that argument by retiring the legendary Joanna Jędrzejczyk with an incredible backfist KO at UFC 275.

Zhang has only lost two times in the UFC and since her professional debut in 2013. Both losses came against Rose Namajunas, and both took place in the United States.

While the latter factoid may seem inconsequential, Zhang apparently finds it quite significant.

After losing the strawweight championship to Namajunas at UFC 261, she openly admitted that the boos from the Jacksonville crowd impacted her performance, so much so that she even included a crowd boo simulation into her training for the rematch.

Although Zhang would lose a very close split decision to Namajunas, she did consider the boo prep to be a success.

With UFC 275 taking place in Singapore and Zhang returning to the win column, Zhang apparently wants to stay off of US soil for her next expected fight against champion Carla Esparza.

“So I want to fight with Carla at Abu Dhabi (because) I know there’s a (card there on October 22),” Zhang said during the UFC 275 post-fight press conference via a translator. “I think Carla is a special fighter, too, so I think that’s gonna be a really good fight, for me and for her. Not China, not US, we’re gonna fight at a third country so that it can be fair for both of us.”

It is unclear if Zhang will get her wish, especially seeing as how, historically, it is the champion who has more leverage in determining when and where a fight takes place.

Nevertheless, what’s most important for Zhang is that she gets the opportunity to reclaim the strawweight title, something UFC President Dana White has already assured would happen prior to UFC 275. And it’s safe to say that Zhang’s viral KO of the former strawweight queen did nothing to minimize her title-shot odds.

Do you think it will make a difference where Zhang vs. Esparza takes place?

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