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Zhang Weili, a star of the UFC women’s division, showed off her incredible strength by lifting up heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
While training for her clash with reigning title holder Carla Esparza at UFC 281 next weekend, she spent time with the Cameroon fighter, who has not fought since retaining the UFC Heavyweight Championship in January as he recovers from injury.
In a video posted on the 36-year-old’s Twitter page, Weili hoisted her fellow combat star in the air, who weighs almost 300lbs. Very impressed by her physical strength, he wrote: “I can’t believe that @zhangweilimma just picked me up like I wasn’t 293lbs.
“I didn’t want her to do it, I was scared of her hurting her back and was trying to explain this to her… then found myself suddenly up in the air. Her strength ratio is through the roof.” Weili is a significant favourite to unseat two-time champ Esparza, who defeated Rose Namajunas earlier this year to recapture the belt.
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Zhang was the first Chinese champion in UFC history as well as the first Asian female champion. A win over Esparza next weekend would see her join Esparza, former champion Rose Namajunas and Amanda Nunes, as the only four women to have multiple title reigns in UFC history.
“I think everyone is an individual and women shouldn’t be defined by who they are,” Zhang said. “Girls, girls are also individuals. It doesn’t mean that I am very thin, very beautiful, and have long hair, it’s beautiful. I don’t think that’s the case. Girls can be powerful, and they can also have short hair. Everyone is different and beauty is different in different ways.”
Ngannou on the other hand, has been recovering from injury since retaining the UFC heavyweight title at the beginning of the year. He successfully underwent surgery in March to repair a Grade 3 MCL tear and ACL damage suffered one month before the Ciryl Gane fight.
Ngannou's injuries were so significant that he was advised to step away from the fight or risk endangering his entire career, according to his coach Eric Nicksick.
"Every one of us felt that he should pull out of the fight," Nicksick, head coach at Xtreme Couture MMA, told "Morning Kombat" last month. "We're literally walking around with an NFL lineman's knee brace for four weeks. I'm freaking in tears because here we are: we put this whole camp together, we're ready to go and we're a week away.
“We don't understand if we're going to fight or not. The doctor basically calls and says, 'He can have irreversible knee damage if he decides to take this fight.'"
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