Weili Zhang will finally return home to China following her memorable strawweight championship victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk on March 7.
The UFC champion, along with two teammates, was expected to fly to China from Las Vegas on Sunday, according to the fighter’s management. ESPN was first to report news of Zhang’s departure. Zhang stayed in the United States for an extended period to avoid the risks associated with travel as the coronavirus pandemic took hold across the globe. Zhang had been in Las Vegas since Feb. 21.
During her camp for UFC 248, Zhang was forced to leave China as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened in her home country, which was the original epicenter of the disease. Zhang was in both Abu Dhabi and Thailand before eventually arriving in the United States.
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Zhang successfully made her first title defense in the UFC 248 co-main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where she took a split decision over Jedrzejczyk in an instant “Fight of the Year” contender. The 30-year-old Black Tiger Fight Club representative has won 21 consecutive professional bouts, a streak that includes five triumphs in the UFC. She claimed the strawweight throne with a 42-second stoppage of Jessica Andrade at UFC Fight Night 157 on Aug. 31.
“There’s a certain pattern when you’re building someone and you’re trying to build them into a star,” UFC president Dana White said of Zhang after UFC 248. “We did it with Conor McGregor, we’ve done it with Ronda, we’ve done it with all the greats. And we’re gonna do it with her.
“She’s gonna be a massive star. The fighting sport is so crazy you gotta keep winning. If you keep winning, you’re gonna be a star.”
The UFC has postponed all events through April due to the coronavirus pandemic but has targeted May 9 for its next event.
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