Ben Askren believes Weili Zhang stood out from other female fighters in 2019.
Zhang made history back in Aug. 2019. She became the first UFC champion born in China. Zhang accomplished this by running through Jessica Andrade in 42 seconds. She is expected to put her gold on the line against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 on March 7.
Askren Says Zhang Led The Pack For Female Fighters In 2019
Askren was a guest on ESPN’s Ariel Helwani MMA Show for the first episode of 2020. “Funky” gave his pick for the 2019 Female Fighter of the Year and he explained why it isn’t “champ-champ” Amanda Nunes.
“Weili Zhang. I feel like Amanda’s second and maybe we’re less impressed with Amanda because Amanda’s already achieved her high-level performance over the last whatever years. So we’ve kinda come to expect it out of her. But the GDR fight was kinda eh. She just kinda took her down and beat her up and it wasn’t really all that dramatic or exciting. So maybe there’s just a level of expectation there.”
Askren went on to say that he wouldn’t scoff at anyone who thinks Nunes was the best female fighter of 2019, but he feels Zhang is the better choice.
“I think if you went with Amanda I don’t know that anyone would say, ‘eh, you’re really wrong on that. That’s a terrible pick, how did you do that?’ But I think there’s something with Weili Zhang, I don’t wanna say coming out of nowhere but she wasn’t on our radar at this time last year and now she’s a big star.”