|Zhang Weili Quick Info|
|Height||5 ft 4 in|
|Date of Birth||August 13, 1989|
|Eye Color||Dark Brown|
Zhang Weili is a Chinese professional mixed martial artist who began competing in the strawweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), in August 2018. As of June 2022, she had amassed a 6-2 win-loss record in the promotion. She had clinched the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship in August 2019, becoming the first-ever Chinese champion in UFC history. She had defended the title in March 2020 before losing the belt in April 2021 to Rose Namajunas. She had challenged Rose for the title in a November 2021 re-match but she lost out again. As of May 2022, she was ranked 2nd in the UFC women’s strawweight rankings. Before joining UFC in August 2018, she had put together an impressive 16-1 win-loss record participating in promotions like the China MMA League, the Chinese Kung FuChampionships, Kunlun Fight/Kunlun Fight MMA, and Top FC, in the strawweight and flyweight divisions. She won the vacant Kunlun Fight Strawweight Championship in September 2016 and defended it in December 2016. She won the title again in May 2017 and defended it in June 2017 and August 2017. She had clinched the vacant Top FC Strawweight Championship in July 2017. Between 2013 and 2017, she had also competed in 4 kickboxing bouts, ending up with a 2-2 win-loss record. She holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Handan, Hebei, China
Zhang Weili, in primary school, used to practice multiple sporting disciplines including athletics, soccer, and table tennis. When she was 12 years old, her parents had sent her to a specialized martial arts school in their hometown of Handan where she began training in Sanda (aka Chinese kickboxing, the official Chinese full-contact combat sport) as well as a Chinese style of wrestling called Shuai jiao.
Professional Mixed Martial Artist
- Father – Her father is a former miner.
- Siblings – She has 2 older brothers, one of whom had quit his job (gold trading) to support her career by working at the gym where she trained.
5 ft 3 in or 160 cm
5 ft 4 in or 162.5 cm
52 kg or 114.5 lbs
Race / Ethnicity
She is of Chinese descent.
- Toned physique
- Short-cropped, neck-length hair
- Boyish face
- Affable smile
In May 2020, Zhang Weili was appointed the Chinese brand ambassador of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., an American multinational cosmetics/skincare company. She was also chosen as the face of the company’s new makeup line Double Wear.
The same year, she was featured in a TV commercial for Audi AG, a German automotive manufacturer of luxury vehicles. In 2021, she was appointed the global ambassador for the recovery technology company Hyperice.
She has also endorsed brands such as –
- Under Armour, Inc. (American sports equipment company)
- Heilan Home Co., Ltd. (Chinese fast fashion brand)
- JD.com, Inc. aka Jingdong (Chinese e-commerce company)
- Wusu beer (Chinese alcoholic beverage company)
Zhang Weili Facts
- Zhang Weili had started getting trained in Shaolin Kung Fu, one of the oldest and most famous styles of Kung Fu, when she was just 6 years old. She was inspired by watching several Kung Fu-themed movies.
- In her mid-teens, after winning multiple Sanda championships in her home province of Hebei, she was selected for the Jiangsu province’s Sanda team. However, a recurring back injury had forced her to quit the sport.
- When she was about 17 years old, she moved to Beijing. There, to get by, she used to work several odd jobs including a cashier at a supermarket, a kindergarten teacher, a security guard, and a hotel desk clerk.
- In 2010, she began working as a fitness instructor at a local Beijing gym. She was allowed to use the gym’s equipment for free after it closed in the evenings. She made use of this facility to get trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A few months later, she was promoted to a front desk job at that gym, through which she had received an opportunity to meet her idol Wu Haotian, a pioneer of Chinese mixed martial arts (MMA).
- In 2012, Wu Haotian enrolled her in the Black Tiger Fight Club where a coach named Cai Xuejun recognized her potential and began training her in MMA.
- In a December 2019 interview, she revealed that Hong Kongese actor, martial artist, film director, producer, action director, and choreographer Donnie Yen‘s 2007 feature film titled Flashpoint was her first introduction to the world of MMA. She also stated that the 2013 bout between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche had motivated her to quit her job and pursue MMA full-time.
- Her split decision win over Joanna Jędrzejczyk, in March 2020, through which she had defended her UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship title, is often considered by many pundits as the greatest fight in women’s MMA history. The bout was chosen as the ‘Fight of the Year’ by Combat Press, MMA Weekly, BT Sport, Sherdog, Cageside Press, Bleacher Report, The Athletic, MMA Fighting, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the World MMA Awards, and MMAJunkie.com.
- The events preceding this historic bout were quite interesting. Zhang Weili had moved her training camp from China to Thailand and later moved to Dubai due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was because the bout was to be held in Las Vegas and a 2-week quarantine was mandatory for any non-citizen to be granted entry to the United States if they had recently been in China, the country where the virus had originated. After multiple failed attempts, she was eventually granted a visa in February 2020 (just about a month before the bout) to enter the United States.
- As of June 2022, she had won 3 UFC Bonus Awards – ‘Fight of the Night’ (once) and ‘Performance of the Night’ (twice).
Featured Image by Zhang Weili / Instagram