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Zhang Weili Details Fleeing China for UFC 248 and Being Unable to Return

I was in Beijing on the morning of February 1, when UFC called me and my team. Go to Thailand, immediately. Leave right away. Flights between China and the U.S. had been banned because of the virus. If I didn’t leave right then, I’d miss my fight in Las Vegas on March 7. Rush, I thought, scrambling to pack, throwing clothes into luggage, not knowing when I’d return. We were on the road to the airport by noon and in Thailand by 9 p.m.

After a couple of weeks of travel — from China to Thailand to Abu Dhabi — I finally arrived in the States. And — I won. I defeated Joanna Jędrzejczyk to defend my strawweight title. It’s now been over 60 days since I left home. I’m desperate to get back.

I’m in Vegas, at a rented house with my team. Just spending time here and practicing social distancing.

My family is doing well. Fortunately the conditions haven’t been too bad in Hebei, where I’m from. I video chat with them every few days. We tell each other about our days and what we did.


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