UFC Hall of Famer Ronda Rousey took some time Wednesday night to reflect on how far women’s MMA has come.
In a post on Instagram, Rousey, the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, gave high praise to Chinese rising star Weili Zhang, who is set to headline UFC on ESPN+ 15 in Shenzhen on Aug. 31, when she challenges Jessica Andrade for the strawweight title.
“I feel like a proud mama watching how women’s MMA has grown,” Rousey wrote. “Women from all walks of life, from all over the world are rising to the challenge and showing the world what it means to fight like a girl. Weili Zhang @zhangweilimma is a prime example of overcoming adversity – fighting not just through the ranks, but to also get noticed and stand out. I’ve definitely taken notice, and so should you. Best of luck to the ladies fighting August 31 on #UFCfightnight157 🙏🏼”
An honored Zhang responded to Rousey, saying how Rousey inspired her and gave her confidence in the hard times she endured during her martial arts journey.
“Wow. Idol. I remember the first time I saw you fight in UFC in 2013. I thought you were so cool. Then I was inspired to be like you. In this many-lined UFC star cage to play a part of our women’s territory. You give me confidence and direction. If I want to slack off when I don’t want to train I’ll find you fighting. That gave me a lot of encouragement @rondarousey.”
Zhang (19-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will become the first female to ever headline a UFC show in China, when she attempts to capture the 115-pound belt. After dropping her pro MMA debut, she has won her last 19 fights. Joining the UFC roster last year, she has picked up three wins over Danielle Taylor, Jessica Aguilar and most recently Tecia Torres at UFC 235, en route to a title shot.
Zhang takes on Andrade (20-6 MMA, 11-4 UFC), who recently captured the strawweight title with a spectacular second-round slam knockout over Rose Namajunas at UFC 237 in her home country of Brazil. She will now step into enemy territory when she attempts to make her first title defense vs. Zhang.