The UFC’s first fight card to take place in front of a capacity crowd in more than a year was worth the wait. From title changes, to upsets, to stunning one-shot knockouts… and, well, whatever it was that happened to Chris Weidman’s leg, but one element from the evening which may have left a bad taste in some fight fans’ mouths was the not-so-warm welcome afforded to Zhang.
Zhang Weili was beaten in Florida. © USA Today Sports
Winner of 21 straight fights, Zhang was about as dominant a champion on the UFC roster before she walked into a high kick from Namajunas which ended her night – and her title reign – a little over a minute into the first round.
The lead-in to the fight had been notable for Namajunas’ comments in which she said
“better dead than red” when describing her Chinese opponent, with the Lithuanian-American fighter highlighting that Zhang hails from a country under Communist rule – which might partly explain the reaction aimed at her by the capacity crowd.
Seriously. How much of a dumb f*ck do you have to be to boo Zhang because she is Chinese?” asked one fan online, with several other reactions in a similar suit.
Who dare boo Zhang Weili?” added another, before adding: “ I boo you Florida, America sucks.”
Some alleged that the motivation behind the boos was nothing but “
racist” – although there is always the explanation that as an American on home soil, Namajunas was always likely to get more crowd backing.
For her part, Namajunas was keen to walk back her controversial Communist comments in her post-fight interview, telling the media that she has no personal quarrel with Zhang.
All that stuff that was the in the media, that was not my intent to ever personally attack her as a person,” Namajunas said. “ It’s just my history and my past and that’s it.“
Zhang’s prior dominance in the women’s 115-pound fold will likely earn her an immediate rematch with Namajunas amid their developing rivalry.
I feel I can come back real quick,” Zhang said afterwards. “ I was still conscious, the referee stopped it a little bit early.”
She, and most of the audience watching at home, will likely hope that any rematch doesn’t take place in Florida, though.
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