‘I got the US visa… now there’s fire in my belly’: Chinese UFC champ Zhang beats coronavirus fears, ready for Jedrzejczyk test
UFC women’s strawweight champion Zhang meets Polish former titleholder Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event of UFC 248 at T-Mobile Arena on March 7.
There were fears that the bout – which is Zhang’s first defense of the title she won by dismantling Brazil’s Jessica Andrade in Shenzhen in August – could be affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the champion's Chinese homeland.
Zhang, 30, was forced to abandon her training camp in Beijing earlier this month, relocating to Thailand with the help of the UFC, and then on to Abu Dhabi to await clearance to enter the US.
After an anxious wait, the fighter now says she has now received her visa – but that it was a far from straightforward process amid travel restrictions into the US from China.Also on rt.com 'It is our common disaster': UFC to extradite Zhang Weili from China as strawweight champ leaves Beijing over coronavirus fears
“I got the visa and now I got the go ahead to fight. To be honest, it was not easy [obtaining the visa],” Zhang posted on her Weibo social media account, according to the South China Morning Post.
“The fight wasn’t going to happen unless I got a visa. Now I got it and I have fire in my belly and I can start losing weight. See you in the United States. Add oil [to the fire].”
The 115lbs champ is reportedly set to depart for the US on February 25 to complete her preparations and weight-cut, before facing off against Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event of a card headlined by the men’s middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero.
The Zhang versus Jedrzejczyk match-up has already seen controversy after the Pole provoked a war of words thanks to a poorly-judged social media post, in which she shared an image of herself and Zhang while wearing a gas mask.
That prompted the Chinese star to accuse her opponent of making “fun of tragedy” amid the coronavirus outbreak emanating from her homeland, which has infected almost 75,000 people and killed upwards of 1,800.Also on rt.com 'People are dying': UFC strawweight champ Zhang Weili fires back at Joanna Jedrzejczyk over coronavirus joke on Instagram
"People are dying, someone's father, someone's mother, someone's child,” wrote Zhang in a social media response.
“Say what you want about me if it makes you feel stronger but do not joke about what's happening here. I wish you good health until March 7th. I will see you soon."
Jedrzejczyk, 32, later apologized for any offense caused, saying “I was laughing only about the memes, not about the illness and what is happening in China right now."
Nicknamed ‘Magnum’, Zhang boasts a 20-1 professional MMA record, losing her debut bout but winning all her subsequent fights – including four UFC outings.
Jedrzejczyk is a former long-time ruler of the division and stands 16-3 overall. She is aiming to reclaim the title she lost in November 2017 when she was beaten by America’s Rose Namajunas.
The Pole is already in the US as she trains at American Top Team gym in Miami.Also on rt.com Zhang Weili: 5 things you need to know about the UFC’s first Chinese champion