The recent coronavirus outbreak in mainland China has quickly become an international news story. Fears over the virus’ potential to spread internationally, and a lack of any preventative treatment for it have stoked fears and a range of responses—from support and concern for the Chinese populous, to xenophobic trolling.
It’s also created what seems to be an unfortunately difficult set of circumstances for one of the UFC’s newest title holders. Zhang Weili won UFC gold back in August of 2019, with a stunning first round TKO of Jessica Andrade. Since the win, however, she’s been working through unexpected Visa issues. Issues that likely won’t be made any easier by growing pandemic concerns.
In response, MMA Fighting reports that she and her team are working hard to get Zhang out of China and over to the US. Not just for fight week, but as quickly as possible, so that she can continue her UFC 248 fight camp in Las Vegas. And they’ve got some surprising help on their side, in the form of current presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard.
“The UFC has been working hard to expedite getting Weili and her team here for precautionary reasons,” Zhang’s manager, Brian Butler, told MMA Fighting. “I have connected the UFC with Tulsi Gabbard again who has graciously trying to help push things forward.”
‘Magnum’ is preparing to make the first defense of her strawweight title, against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. For her part, Jedrzejczyk didn’t shy away from using the coronavirus outbreak to poke fun at her upcoming rival.
Jedrzejczyk deleted the post on Instagram, later apologizing, telling Zhang, “I’m so sorry to make you feel bad, but I’d never make fun of people or a virus. I didn’t want you to get offended. I just made fun of the funny internet meme.”
UFC 248 takes place on March 7th, in Las Vegas, NV. The card is expected to be headlined by a middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero. Zhang vs. Jedrzejczyk is currently planned for the co-main event. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and notes as fight night approaches.