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Weili Zhang established herself as a historical figure when she became the first Chinese mixed martial artist to capture an Ultimate Fighting Championship title in 2019. After spending nearly two years at the peak of her profession, she now must devise a plan to attempt to reclaim the throne.
Zhang surrendered the undisputed women’s strawweight championship in the UFC 261 co-main event on April 24, when she was blindsided by a Rose Namajunas head kick before a crowd of 15,269 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. It was her first defeat since November 2013 and snapped a remarkable 21-fight winning streak. Zhang made clear her desire for an immediate rematch against Namajunas, though Carla Esparza could conceivably skip to the front of the line following her upset of Xiaonan Yan at UFC Fight Night 188.
As Zhang awaits word on her next assignment, a look at some of the numbers that she has compiled to this point:
31: Years of age for Zhang, who was born on Aug. 13, 1989 in Handan, China—nearly 6,500 miles away from Ultimate Fighting Championship headquarters.
10: Zhang victories by knockout or technical knockout, accounting for 48% of her career total (21). Her list of victims includes Emi Fujino, Karla Benitez and Jessica Andrade.
6.36: Strikes landed by Zhang per minute of UFC competition, placing her third on the organization’s all-time list at 115 pounds. Only Jessica Andrade (6.88) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (6.62) have connected at a more prolific clip.
7: Submission wins on the Zhang resume. Her methods of choice: three armbars, three rear-naked chokes and one guillotine choke.
603: Days spent by Zhang as UFC women’s strawweight champion. It ranks as the second-longest reign in the history of the division, trailing only Jedrzejczyk (966). Zhang held the 115-pound title from Aug. 31, 2019 to April 24, 2021.
5: Countries in which Zhang has competed as a mixed martial artist. She has gone 13-1 in her native China, 3-1 in the United States, 3-0 in South Korea, 1-0 in Thailand and 1-0 in Japan.
3: Sub-minute finishes to Zhang’s credit. She submitted Mei Huang with a rear-naked choke 40 seconds into their pairing under the Chinese Kung Fu Championships banner on Oct. 27, 2014, dispatched Nayara Hemily Cascardo with a guillotine choke 41 seconds into their confrontation at Kunlun Fight 9 on Feb. 25, 2017 and cut down the aforementioned Andrade with knees and punches 42 seconds into their battle at UFC Fight Night 157 on Aug. 31, 2019.
165: Significant strikes landed by Zhang in a unanimous decision over Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 on March 7, 2020. It established a career benchmark for the Black Tiger Fight Club star, who more than doubled her previous high (77).
0: Takedowns surrendered by Zhang in her six UFC appearances. Opponents are 0-for-3 against her, with Tecia Torres, Jessica Aguilar and Danielle Taylor each having attempted one.
11: First-round finishes on Zhang’s ledger. She scored five in a row during one particular stretch of dominance between Sept. 24, 2016 and May 4, 2017.
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