Born 31 August, 1989, in the Hebei Province, China and fighting out of Beijing, Zhang Weili was relatively unknown to casual MMA fans before she managed to dominate Jéssica Andrade for the UFC Strawweight belt, completely overwhelming the former champion in short order.
Similarly, her performance against Joanna Jędrzejczyk showed the same explosiveness, pressure, and excitement but over a ferocious five-round back and forth battle. Her aggressive and diverse fighting achievements rewarded the 31-year old Chinese mixed martial artist not only the Strawweight title – it also crowned her the first ever Chinese champion in UFC history.
Nicknamed “Magnum”, Zhang earned her nickname name in reference to her powerful and explosive fighting style which has struck down opponents in an efficient yet devastating manner. Just like the universally known firearm, her strikes come at an intense pace and pack one hell of a punch (just ask her former competitors).
“Magnum’s” vicious fighting nature hasn’t solely been forged through solid and committed hours at the gym – it stems from her childhood and upbringing. Her father worked as a miner in Hebei, China, where the province was also recognized for its martial artists. It was seeing the tireless efforts of her father to put food on the table, which ignited Zhang’s fighting spirit to begin practicing Shaolin Kung Fu at the tender age of 6.
Her passion for mixed martial arts was fueled by watching martial arts movies – notably Donnie Yen movies and the 2007 film “Flash Point” – Zhang’s first introduction to MMA.
When she turned 12, she engaged in Sanda training, (a form of Chinese wrestling, ‘Shuai Jiao’) which has been demonstrated in the majority of her bouts.
As her career progressed, she would become intrigued by watching Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, or BJJ, gaining an interest by watching others grapple at the gym where she was employed as a fitness instructor. From there, her decision was clear and she opted to make becoming a mixed martial artist her profession.
Zhang’s professional MMA debut took place in 2013 where she faced Meng Bo and lost. However, since then, she hasn’t lost once. That loss motivated her to train harder; she knuckled down to focus on magnifying her strengths.
Her efforts and hard work would not have paid off without the backing and support of Black Tiger Fight Club. Her trainers have guided her in refining her striking ability and ground game leading Zhang to become Strawweight champion, ranking #2 in the UFC as of March this year.
Now you’ve got the back story on the Strawweight champ, after a few biographical details, let’s get into the hotlist of “Magnum’s” best and most vicious finishes – as we breakdown Zhang Weili’s Top 5 MMA Finishes (in descending order)!
Zhang’s is a relatable story…her work ethic in the octagon reflects exactly how she is in the real world. During her time training MMA in Beijing, she worked several jobs to keep herself financially afloat; this included being a cashier at a supermarket, kindergarten teacher, and a hotel desk clerk. Even whilst working three different jobs, “Magnum” managed to earn a purple belt in BJJ under Pedro Jordao and was taught MMA under her coach Xuejun Cai.
Her hard work paid off as she would venture on to win 11 bouts straight before getting a title shot for the Kunlun Fight Female Strawweight Championship against Simone Duarte. She would finish Duarte in similar fashion by TKO in the second round to rightfully earn the title. “Magnum” would defend her title five more times before being signed with the UFC in 2018.
In the mixed martial arts world, “Magnum” was not really well known outside of China. However, her striking and grappling prowess were showcased through her last 5 fights. Over her career, the Chinese phenom has amassed an outstanding record with 10 KO/TKO wins and 7 submissions. Her explosiveness and unrelenting pressure are key to her success; however, what truly carries her on is her passion and determination to be the best. A true warrior at heart. OK, onto the list!
- Vs. Svetlana Gotsyk — Kunlun Fight 38 (Feb. 21, 2016)
Zhang Weili’s Strawweight MMA debut was against Svetlana Gotsyk at Kunlun Fight 38 where she was on a 3-fight win streak, finishing all her opponents in the first round. Gotsyk would herself not get finished in the first round, but would suffer a similar fate to Weili’s past opponents.
The first round began with the fighters feeling each other out and measuring up each other’s distance. A few short leg kicks, mostly from ‘Magnum’, put pressure on Gotsyk. However, Gotsyk would reply back with her own variations of one-shot punches and leg strikes.
She would go into the clinch one minute into the round, but in a split second, would be taken down by an inside leg trip by Weili. Zhang would control Svetlana on the ground for the rest of the round. Putting on a ground game display, transitioning from side control to back to guard. Her transitions were seamless. However, Gotsyk remained tough and composed when interlocked with Zhang and eventually scrambled out albeit now with a drained gas tank.
The second round would start off similarly and would go on to see Svetlana put into a dangerous position as Zhang secured top mount. Her opponent, unable to get out tries to turn out, however, this prompts Zhang to rain punches from above. This levies the damage on Gotsyk as referee Pang Hangtao intervenes to call the fight.
- Vs. Karla Benitez — Kunlun Fight MMA 7 (Dec. 15, 2016)
This bout was a signature “Magnum” performance as she overwhelmed her opponent completely with her elite striking skill set.
The match began with both fighters trading and exchanging shots, but Zhang had power and precision on her side. Benitez could not endure the striking hail storm served up by “Magnum” as a flurry of straight punches, hooks, and head kicks led to her opponent defending unintelligibly.
The fight would be over at 2 minutes, 15 second as a right hook landed flush on Benitez’s chin, giving Zhang the win.
- Vs. Liliya Kazak — Kunlun Fight 47 (July 10, 2016)
This would be the first MMA bout where Zhang would finish her opponent with a well-timed head kick.
The first round started off with both fighters trading and exchanging shots at a distance; throwing jabs, straights, and leg-kick combinations at one another. However, a close counter-exchange led to Zhang getting hold of Kazak – putting her in a Muay Thai clinch to shortly take her down with an inside leg trip.
“Magnum” held the dominant ground position, moving from guard to top mount and then back to mount to throw punches and gradually wear Kazak down until the bell sounded.
Round 2 began with Zhang throwing an inside leg kick and Kazak trading with an overhand right hook, following up with sequential left and right hooks missing their target. After trading in the pocket again, Kazak throws a leg kick which “Magnum” attempts to catch to respond with a counter overhand right and lead left hook. It lands and stuns Kazak for a moment where she gets taken down with Zhang on top ground position until the referee stands them up.
Both fighters engage again, Kazak shifts to the left and tries an overhand right. Zhang blocks and counters with a straight right, left hook, and then a leg kick. Zhang goes for the body with a straight right which lands square. She follows up again with a straight to the body and a hook to the head. She then goes for a head kick on Kazak which finds its home, knocking her out cold declaring Zhang the victor.
- Vs. Jessica Aguilar — UFC Fight Night 141 (Nov. 24, 2018)
This bout marked Zhang’s second UFC match testing her skill set against a ranked Strawweight competitor where she would not only show determination but also her grappling ability.
Zhang began the first and second rounds by taking Aguilar to the ground. Subsequently, a lengthy ground and pound session accompanied by constant transitions kept Aguilar pinned to the floor, not giving her any time to breathe or recover. Aguilar would soon find herself in a triangle leg lock where Zhang rained elbows from below. A cut caused by the elbows bloodied Aguilar, but in a snap second, Zhang changed leg position putting Aguilar into an armbar.
Aguilar taps and and Zhang walks away the victor as well as scoring her first submission win in the UFC.
- Vs. Jéssica Andrade — UFC Fight Night 157 (Aug. 31, 2019)
UFC Fight Night 157 marked an astounding moment in the UFC as the match would be recorded as one of the fastest finishes in a UFC title bout. Prior to the matchup, MMA fans and pundits alike did not consider Zhang a challenge for Andrade until this performance.
The round began with Zhang throwing an inside leg kick, stepping in and out and staying on her toes. She throws a jab then follows up with an inside leg kick where Andrade responds with a jumping lead hook, which misses. Andrade attempts again with a lead hook, but proves unsuccessful.
Zhang goes for another inside leg kick as her opponent stalks her down, taking shot after shot to her legs. Andrade throws a leg kick to which Zhang counters with a double jab, straight right, and lead hook combination. Andrade tries to go in again, but is caught by a lead left hook and right hook once more. She tries another lead hook but carelessly does not defend which ultimately became her undoing.
Zhang steps back and counters with a right hook landing right on the button. Andrade is clearly dazed and goes in for a takedown but Zhang continues the onslaught. She throws knees and elbows causing Andrade to back off, but “Magnum” doesn’t skip a beat, following up with an overwhelming striking combination. Running after her opponent and hitting her hard with a left and right hook, she puts Andrade down.
Zhang finishes Andrade with a right and left hook to the temple with the referee intervening to declare Zhang the winner. In all, the bout took just 42 seconds.
For her stellar efforts, she not only became the first Chinese and East Asian UFC Strawweight Champion, but was also awarded the Performance of the Night Bonus of $50,000.
So there we have it folks, 5 of Zhang Weili’s best MMA Finishes! With her racking up a superb record of 21 wins with 10 TKO/KO’s and 7 submissions, do you think “Magnum” can be ranked the best female Strawweight fighter of all time? From the list above, what’s your favorite “Magnum”-firepower moment? Which fighter would you like to see get KFK’d next? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram.
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