Voting is now open for the 12th annual World MMA Awards. Head here to vote for your favourite fighters and MMA personalities.
Fighters Only has extended the nomination period from 12 months to 18 months (1st January 2019 – 30th June 2020) to best account for all global MMA action and performances.
The star-studded, black-tie 2020 World MMA Awards event will be held in October 2020 on a date and location to be announced.
In the lead-up to the big show, we are profiling each of the 12th annual World MMA Awards nominees.
Zhang Weili is nominated for the Female Fighter of the Year in the 12th annual World MMA Awards.
The last 18 months have seen Zhang extend her unbeaten run of fights to 21, picking up and defending a UFC championship in the process.
“Magnum” first fought in 2019 against Tecia Torres on 2 March in her debut in the fight capital of the world – Las Vegas, Nevada.
Zhang displayed both her grappling and striking prowess as she assumed control throughout the fight en route to earning a unanimous decision victory over three rounds in what was the biggest win of her career.
It was the kind of victory which could earn her a shot at the UFC women’s strawweight title and it did just that.
Around six months later, the Chinese martial artist took on newly-crowned champion Jessica Andrade in the city of Shenzhen in her home country.
To the delight of the capacity crowd, Zhang made light work of the Brazilian to become China’s first ever UFC champion.
An early exchange saw Zhang hurt Andrade with a right hand. The latter then tried to clinch with Zhang in attempt to close the distance to recover.
That was a grave error, though, as Zhang proceeded to launch a volley of elbows to damage Andrade further.
Sensing the finish, Zhang grabbed Andrade’s head to land some crushing knees which sent the champion reeling.
Zhang chased her opponent down and landed another barrage of strikes which forced the stoppage after just 42 seconds – one of the division’s quickest stoppages in UFC history.
Right before the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic struck and shut down the western world, Zhang competed at the beginning of March in the UFC’s last pay-per-view in front of a live audience.
That night at UFC 248, Zhang took on one of the finest female mixed martial artists in history – Joanna Jędrzejczyk.
Jędrzejczyk, the 115-pound division’s most dominant champion to grace the Octagon, was on a mission to regain the belt that was once hers. Magnum, meanwhile, was seeking to make her first defence of the UFC strawweight title.
With both competitors known for their all-action styles, this was a good fight on paper and the contest more than lived up to its billing.
In a fight many believe to be the greatest women’s fight in UFC history, Zhang overcame Jędrzejczyk in a back-and-forth war which wowed the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
It’s a bout so good that it’s voted for Fight of the Year in the 12th annual World MMA Awards. You can cast your votes here.
The competitive fight was scored in Zhang’s favour by two of the judges, with the other opting for Jędrzejczyk.
Zhang’s power seemed to tell as both women landed plenty of shots, but it was the Polish fighter who endured much more damage – superficial and structural – as Jędrzejczyk’s forehead ballooned to unseen proportions above her broken nose.
Jędrzejczyk never backed down and her own successes against Zhang with fast punching combinations and punishing leg kicks, but Zhang did plenty enough to emerge from the Octagon the victor and now a UFC champion with a title defence on her resume.
After two dominant wins – showing off all the wrinkles in her game – Zhang was then the winner of what is being considered the best fight in women’s MMA history. A fine 18 months by anyone’s standards.
Is Zhang Weili your Female Fighter of the Year?
Voting is now open for the 12th annual World MMA Awards.
Head here to vote for your favourite fighters and MMA personalities.