Mixed martial arts fighter Zhang Weili is China’s next global sports star - SupChina
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Mixed martial arts fighter Zhang Weili is China’s next global sports star

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SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

Mixed martial arts fighter Zhāng Wěilì 张伟丽 successfully defended her Ultimate Fighting Championship strawweight title against Polish fighter Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a fight that many are calling the best ever in women’s MMA.

Each woman threw roughly 400 punches, with the odd elbow and kick mixed in. At the end of five rounds, both were bruised and bloody — Jedrzejczyk suffered a grotesque hematoma that made her forehead look literally like an alien’s — but it was Zhang who was awarded the judge’s decision. “It’s one of the best fights I’ve ever seen, period,” UFC president Dana White gushed afterward.

Before the fight, Jedrzejczyk posted a meme (since deleted) of a promotional poster showing herself wearing a gas mask. Zhang fired back on Instagram: “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.” Zhang’s victory was celebrated in China, but also caused controversy:

“Zhang Weili embodies true feminism,” commented (in Chinese) one Weibo user. “When people look down on Chinese people, we beat them to the point where they have to show respect for us.” Chinese social media platforms were flooded with this type of nationalistic comment. This wave of largely male-driven “feminism” has received intense scrutiny (in Chinese) from the feminist community, who argue that this narrative is actually harming feminist movements in China.  

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