Ruben Payan Jr shares if Zhang Weili would put on weight to fight Valentina Shevchenko

Zhang Weili is the current Strawweight champion
China's first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Zhang Weili attends a training session at the UFC performance institute in Shanghai on June 15, 2020. (Photo by Hector RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Zhang Weili’s strength and conditioning coach Ruben Payan Jr has revealed if the strawweight champion would put on weight to fight ‘Bullet Valentina’.

Weili is all set to return to the octagon at UFC 261 after a brutal war against Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 248. She will be defending her strawweight title against former champion Rose Namajunas, in the co-main event of a stacked card.

Weili is still undefeated in the UFC (5-0) after having made her debut at UFC 227 in August 2018. The 21-1 Chinese won the strawweight title after beating Jessica Andrade in August 2019, and has since defended the title once – against Joanna.

There are also talks of the strawweight champion moving to the flyweight division in a bid to challenge the unparalleled Valentina Shevchenko.

UFC flyweight fighter Valentina Shevchenko during the UFC 247 ceremonial weigh-in. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
UFC flyweight fighter Valentina Shevchenko during the UFC 247 ceremonial weigh-in. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In a recent interview with South China Morning Post, Weili’s strength and conditioning coach Ruben Payan Jr addressed her possible move to the flyweight division. He was asked if she would put on weight in a bid to move to the heavier division.

Payan clarified that she just wouldn’t have to cut more weight, since their emphasis was, and has only been on strength and nothing else. He also added that moving up a weight class wouldn’t be a tough ask for Weili.

Payan Jr was quoted as saying:

“I don’t necessarily mean she would necessarily need to be bigger. She would definitely be much stronger – we would emphasize more strength which doesn’t necessarily mean more size because she just wouldn’t have to cut so much weight. I don’t see that that’s a difficult fight for her to make with strength and with weight and all of that, that’s easy.”

Payan Jr also acknowledged the flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, for the complete fighter she is, going on to say that the myriad of skill sets the Kyrgyzstani has, makes it difficult for any kind of opponent stylistically.

Zhang Weili reveals online trolls only motivate her further

When you are a star, you’re faced with a lot of negative and hate comments. And likewise Weili recently revealed how negative online comments act as a source of motivation for her.

Zhang Weili UFC 248
This photo taken on August 7, 2019 shows Chinese mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Zhang Weili posing after a training session in Beijing. (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking in an interview with South China Morning Post, a few days ago, Weili said:

“Sometimes, I have seen many people saying they don’t support me on online platforms. But after reading these posts, I feel more motivated.”

Weili will be taking this motivation into her fight with Namajunas. She goes into the fight as the favourite with odds of -182. Namajunas, on the other hand is the underdog at +156.

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Written by Gerard Crispin

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