Zhang Weili loses UFC title after first-round knockout

Society & Culture

Zhang Weili lost her UFC strawweight championship at UFC 261 to Rose Namajunas in 1 minute 18 seconds. Afterwards, she took to Instagram to congratulate the new champion — and ask for a rematch.

Zhāng Wěilì 张伟丽, co-main eventing UFC 261 on Saturday, lost her UFC strawweight championship in less than 90 seconds, after catching a surprise left head kick by Rose Namajunas.

Before the bout, Zhang found herself on the receiving end of jeers inside a sold-out Vystar Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. If she was taken aback, she didn’t show it at the fight’s onset. Staying in the center of the Octagon, Zhang kept the high-energy Rose at bay with a jab and a series of kicks.

But before the fight could heat up, it was over. A crisp kick from the Wisconsin native caught Zhang off-guard, hitting her flush in the face and flooring her.

A few hammer fists later, and referee Marc Goddard was pulling Namajunas off her semi-conscious opponent. A wobbly Zhang protested with the referee and UFC officials, feeling that the fight had been stopped too soon, but replays showed that Goddard clearly made the correct call.

In the post-match interview with commentator Joe Rogan, the newly crowned champion Namajunas was quick to bury the hatchet after her controversial “better dead than red” comments two weeks ago.

“All that stuff that was in the media, it was not my intention to ever personally attack her as a person,” the emotional 28-year-old said. “It’s just my history and my past, and that’s it. I love all people, all culture, everybody in the world.”

Zhang released a statement on her Instagram following the loss, congratulating her opponent — and asking for a rematch. “Before, my goal was to win the UFC championship, but today, I have a higher goal than that. Thank you! It’s normal to lose and win. That’s the UFC. Andrade, Joanna, Rose have all lost and they all come back and try again. I have deepened my understanding of UFC today. So I believe I can come back. Hopefully the UFC will schedule a rematch soon.”

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Sun Yang back in the pool?

China’s three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang will reportedly return to competitive action at the China National Championships in Qingdao at the end of this week. The results will decide who will head to Tokyo later this summer.

However, neither the swimmer nor any officials have confirmed his participation.

The 29-year-old is seeking to make his first competitive appearance at a high-level event since the Swiss Supreme Court overturned his eight-year doping ban in December, citing the personal bias of the judging panel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Sun will face a retrial in front of a new panel at CAS on May 24. The new group of judges will decide the fate of Sun Yang and whether he will compete at the Olympics, which starts on July 24.

Sun has not competed since the World Championships in South Korea in July 2019.

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