China’sfirstUFCchampZhangWeilicreatesownhype-GlobalTimes

load_file(“/includes/top.html”);load_file(“/includes/navmenu.html”);China’s first UFC champ Zhang Weili creates own hypeSource:AFP Published: 2020/6/18 17:58:40load_file(“/includes/article_shareup.html”);Zhang Weili Photo: VCGZhang Weili retained her UFC title in March in one of the greatest womens fights in MMA history, was then stranded in the US for six weeks by coronavirus and finally flew back to China in a protective suit and visor.But after all that, it was the sight of airport and medical staff with “welcome home” scribbled on their own protective gear to greet arriving passengers that deeply affected her.”I was really touched and excited, Ive never felt such warmth in all my life,” Chinas first and only Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion said.The 30-year-old, who as a child was challenged by her mother to jump out of ditches to toughen her up, has enjoyed a life-changing 10 months.In August, she thrilled a home crowd in Shenzhen with an upset knockout of UFC champion Jessica Andrade of Brazil in just 42 seconds to make Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) history.Zhang then successfully defended the strawweight title in a brutal dust-up in Las Vegas in early March against Polands Joanna Jedrzejczyk, despite her buildup being badly disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. She boasts a 21-1 MMA record and UFC President Dana White has touted her to rank alongside Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey as a global superstar of the sport.The excitement surrounding Zhangs swift rise to prominence has reached such an extent in China that she is being mentioned in the same breath as basketball giant Yao Ming, who led the Houston Rockets to the NBA playoffs four times.But the articulate Zhang, who hails from the northern province of Hebei, gives that lofty comparison a swift verbal jab.”I am not Yao Ming or anyone else,” she said. “I just want to be a better me.”I like that interaction Coronavirus has eased in China since the disease emerged in the country late last year, allowing Zhang to conduct an open workout for the media at UFCs newly built Performance Institute in Shanghai this week.But UFC fight nights, like most sports, are taking place behind closed doors to prevent the spread of infections among spectators.Asked about the pandemics impact on her daily life, Zhang replied, “My life is about training. So if it affects my training, it affects my life.”Zhangs next opponent has not been confirmed, but the prospect of defending her title with nobody there to cheer, or jeer, is not one she relishes.”Now there are no spectators, I feel a lot of things are missing and I dont feel that special excitement,” said Zhang.”Thats why I think that spectators are really important. I dont know how I would react if there is no audience. “I really like spectators cheering for me or even booing me. I like that interaction.”UFC supremo White last week said that UFC will stage a series of bouts on a “Fight ­Island” in the United Arab Emirates next month to ease travel headaches for international fighters.Zhang welcomes the idea of competing on Abu Dhabis Yas Island, where UFC staged a card in September last year.Zhang says that unlike travelling to the United States, she can get a visa on arrival, does not have so far to fly and does not have to suffer jetlag.”Ive been there before and watched a fight, and I also lived on that island when I was preparing for a fight,” she said.I must not become lazy Zhangs new-found stardom has seen many more demands placed on her for media and commercial obligations, while she also has an active presence on social media.But she says those have not placed any extra pressure on her or distracted her from training, and she knows that believing her own hype would be fatal for her career.”I told myself that I must not become lazy, I must remember who I am, I should be the same as before I was champion and keep the desire to win,” she said.”I have to keep that in mind, instead of thinking that I have already made it.”Because once I start thinking like that, itll fast be the start of the descent.”Newspaper headline: ‘I’m not Yao MingRELATED ARTICLES:China’s UFC champ beats opponent and racism in the ringPosted in: MISCELLANYvar wxs = (function() {return navigator.userAgent.toLowerCase().indexOf(micromessenger) !== -1})();if (!wxs) {/* * * CONFIGURATION VARIABLES: EDIT BEFORE PASTING INTO YOUR WEBPAGE * * */var disqus_shortname = globaltimes; // required: replace example with your forum shortnamevar disqus_identifier = 1192077;/* * * DONT EDIT BELOW THIS LINE * * */(function () {var dsq = document.createElement(script); dsq.type = text/javascript; dsq.async = true;dsq.src = https:// + disqus_shortname + .disqus.com/embed.js;(document.getElementsByTagName(head)[0] || document.getElementsByTagName(body)[0]).appendChild(dsq);})();}Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.blog comments powered by Disqusload_file(“/includes/channel_right.html”);load_file(“/includes/footer.html”);$(document).ready(function($){$(“#channel-list .row-content”).each(function(){  if($(this).children().length==1){$(this).children().css(width,100%);}
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