UFC champ Zhang Weili prefers Valentina Shevchenko bout over Joanna Jedrzejczyk

UFC women’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili has fixed her visa issues and hopes to fight in the U.S. soon, but says she doesn’t think she should face former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk next.

Speaking through an interpreter backstage at UFC at ESPN 6, Weili (20-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC), said she’d agree to face Jedrzejczyk (16-3 MMA, 9-3 FC) next if that was the fight the UFC wanted, but admitted she’d rather take on what she feels would be a stiffer test of her skills – a step up to flyweight to take on reigning UFC champion Valentina Shevchenko.

“I definitely want to fight the best of the best, and I think Valentina is the best among the female athletes, so that’s why I want to fight her,” Weili said. “For my own division, Rose (Namajunas) is a very good fighter and I respect her a lot. But if the UFC wants me to fight Joanna, no problem. I can definitely beat her.”

Jedrzejczyk produced a dominant display to defeat Michelle Waterson in a bout many viewed as a title eliminator at UFC on ESPN+ 19 this month. And although the former champion was widely praised for her performance, Weili wasn’t quite as impressed.

“Definitely it was a good fight, but you can see Joanna has a lack of finishing power,” Weili said. “I don’t think Joanna now is the Joanna she used to be when she was champion, so I have a lot of stuff that can finish her.”

Weili captured the strawweight crown on home soil when she defeated Jessica Andrade in Shenzhen at UFC on ESPN+ 15 in August. It was a matchup that some suggested might have arrived too early for the Chinese fighter. But Weili squashed those fears in less than a minute and proved that she was ready for her title with a 42-second TKO.

“I didn’t expect that fight to come up so soon, but you saw the result,” Weili said. “I used my ability to prove that I can be the best. At the time a lot of fans, even some Chinese fans, didn’t believe that I could win the fight and thought I would get knocked out, but you saw the result.”

Weili recently had her personal visa issues addressed, which has opened the door for her to return to the U.S. and compete again. But she said she wants her coaches’ visa problems to be similarly dealt with in order to ensure her preparation for any future fights on American soil can be taken with her entire team alongside her.

“I wish the next fight could be in the states, because I know a lot of fans still don’t know who I am, and I want to give them a great fight and let them know who I am and prove I’m a great strawweight champion,” Weili said. “But before that, I hope all my coaches can come to the states and help me to prepare my camp.”

Weili has fought twice in the U.S. and twice in China during her UFC career to date, with both performances in China resulting in stoppage victories. However, her two appearances on American soil led to decision wins. Weili says the difference is in no small part to her coaching team, and suggested that if she is able to bring her full team with her to the U.S. for her next fight, the fans will see her produce her very best.

“My last two experiences of fighting in the states, not all my coaches could come because of visa issues,” Weili said. “So the next time I fight in the States I hope all my coaches can come. When I fight in China I always perform very well, because all my coaches are there.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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