NEW YORK – Zhang Weili’s title loss to Rose Namajunas might be seen as her toughest career moment, but the Chinese fighter views it differently.
Weili, the former UFC strawweight champion, has learned to appreciate the most recent setback of her career, one that cost her the championship belt after Namajunas (10-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) knocked out Weili (21-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) in the first round last April.
“Before I talked about loss, I didn’t think a loss was a good thing,” Weili told reporters, including MMA Junkie, through a translated at UFC 268 media day on Wednesday. “But after I lost last fight, I think a lot. I see the loss as a pretty good thing for me, and it’s kind of like a treasure for me to learn more about myself and fighting.”
The defeat to Namajunas not only meant that Weili lost her title, but it also ended a 21-fight winning streak that lasted almost six years.
Ahead of the rematch at Saturday’s UFC 268, Weili made some career changes. One of those moves was to train at Fight Ready in Arizona with former UFC flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo.
“This time I learned so much from Henry (Cejudo) both from mental side and technical side,” Weili said. “I thought he would not spend a lot of time, but actually we’ve been spending every day training at Fight Ready, and I’ve learned so much.
“I always had a good sense about wrestling and before I came here I didn’t expect that I would learn so much about wrestling in this camp and mix it so well in my fighting. I don’t think I needed to adjust my body for the wrestling.”
Weili believes she’s done the right things to regain her title and avenge the loss to Namajunas. The 32-year-old is happy with the camp she’s put together in her new setting.
“I feel very confident about my team,” Weili said. “Maybe Rose hopes that Henry is the only one in my team, but the fact is that my team is very strong. This time we have coaches from many countries that speak four different languages, and we have coach Eric (Albarracin) and coach Eddie Cha. Also Brazilian coach Felipe and Pedro Souza.”