Weili Zhang has credited former UFC bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, as the reason why she became the strawweight champion.
Zhang says watching Rousey’s rise and seeing what she accomplished motivated her to do the same.
“Ronda Rousey is my biggest motivation,” Zhang said at a Thursday pre-fight media day Thursday (via MMA Junkie). “She was a great role (model) and example for me. I watched her fighting in 2013. She impressed me about her performance in a man-dominated (field).
“She won the first women’s title in the UFC. I decided to follow her path. That’s why I quit my job in 2014 and started training like a pro. She always motivated me.”
At UFC 248, Weili Zhang is looking for her first title defense of the strawweight title she won last August. There, in the main event at UFC Shenzhen, she TKO’d Jessica Andrade in just 42 seconds. But, against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, many expect this to be a tougher fight.
Although Rousey served as inspiration, Zhang admits getting her family to understand her pursuing MMA was a struggle.
“(In) the beginning, they didn’t support me at all. They didn’t really understand because I had a pretty stable job at that time. … I told them, ‘Just give me three years. Let me chase my dream. If my dream comes true, I’ll keep chasing it.” she said. “If I fail, I fail with no regret. Just promise me a year.’”
Now, however, it is the exact opposite as Weili Zhang’s family fully supports her after seeing her accomplish everything she said she would.
“I committed to be a professional MMA fighter,” she said. “I always said, ‘Big vision, big goal.’ I broke those big ones into smaller ones, I achieved the smaller ones step by step. Eventually, I’d make the big ones happen.”
On Saturday night, Zhang can add to her legacy with a win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk.