Valentina Shevchenko believes the super-fight against Weili Zhang will only make sense if the latter defends her strawweight strap against former champion Rose Namajunas at UFC 261. Women's divisions in the UFC are ruled by dominant champions Weili Zhang, Valentina Shevchenko, and Amanda Nunes at the moment. Given their dominance in the respective divisions and the perceived skill gap with the rest of the division, the super-fights between champions have been proposed on multiple occasions lately.
In a recent interview with The Sun, Valentina Shevchenko was asked to share her thoughts on the potential super-fight against strawweight champion Weili Zhang. Shevchenko said the fight will only make sense if Weili successfully defends her strap against former champ Rose Namajunas at UFC 261. Shevchenko, who has trained with Namajunas in the past, is confident that 'Thug Rose' will defeat Weili if she comes in fully prepared for the champ. Valentina Shevchenko said:
"You know, this fight could be interesting for fans only in one case - If she's (Weili Zhang) still gonna retain her title. But let's not jump far because she has very strong opponent, Rose Namajunas. She has to pass it.
... I know Rose. She's my friend, we trained together and I can say exactly if Rose is going to be in the same shape that I know her, physical and mental, she's gonna give very tough fight for Weili. If she's gonna be the same Rose, she's gonna win this fight."
The UFC has made significant inroads into Australia and Africa in recent times, courtesy of fighters like Robert Whittaker, Israel Adesanya, Alexander Volkanovski, Kamaru Usman and Francis Ngannou to name a few. However, Weili Zhang and Valentina Shevchenko hail from China and Kyrgyzstan, respectively. Both countries have a relatively smaller share of known talent on the UFC roster. The fight between Shevchenko and Weili has the potential to open the door of opportunity for the UFC to expand into a completely different market.
Valentina Shevchenko and Weili Zhang will both compete at UFC 261 on April 24
Valentina Shevchenko and Weili Zhang are both set to defend their titles at UFC 261 pay-per-view event on April 24.
Zhang Weili (21-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) will attempt the second successful defense of her title against former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (9-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in the co-main event. Weili defended her title against another former champion Joanna Jedrzeczyk at UFC 248 in March 2020 after snatching it from Jessica Andrade the year prior. A win over Namajunas would add a third UFC champion to Weili's resume.
Valentina Shevchenko (20-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) will fight former strawweight queen Jessica Andrade (21-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) in a bid to secure the fifth successful defense of her flyweight title.
UFC 261 will be headlined by the welterweight title fight rematch between champion Kamaru Usman and No.4 ranked Jorge Masvidal. The pair previously fought at UFC 251 in July 2020 where Usman secured a unanimous decision win.