Zhang Weili, a Chinese UFC fighter who was defeated in her first match against U.S. fighter Rose Namajunas, claimed her opponent’s anti-Communist remarks played a role in her loss.
Namajunas, who is of Lithuanian descent, used the phrase “better dead than red” ahead of the match in April.
The phrase is associated with an anti-communist slogan that originated during the Cold War in the 1950s.
The website MMA Junkie reported on the development:
Weili (21-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) initially dismissed Namajunas’ comments, but after experiencing a hostile crowd in a fight in which she wound up getting dethroned by first-round knockout, she admits the boos might have played a factor and thinks Namajunas is to blame for what transpired.
‘I think it definitely affected me a little bit,” Zhang said on ‘The MMA Hour.’ ‘The comments that Rose made, I think she was successful in making the audience boo me. But I think that’s my own problem because I should be concentrating on the fight and not the audience. I can’t control who the audience likes. So I’m becoming more focused on my own fight.’
She continued, ‘In my mind, I think that, yes, those comments crossed the line because I think all the audience, all the fighters, we all come together in the UFC because we all share the passion of the MMA sport. In my mind, I’m coming here because I want to make friends because we all have the common love of martial arts. I think it’s not a good thing to mix sport with politics, but I think that’s maybe her plan. So in the beginning, I thought it was just kind of trash talk. It really didn’t affect me. But when I went out in the stadium and got booed, I think Rose wanted to use those comments to make the audience boo me.’
That first fight took place in Jacksonville, Florida, and the rematch will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 6.
“I have been to New York City once, but I’ve never been to Madison Square Garden,” Weili said. “I’m very much looking forward to the fight, and I’m also expecting there will be some Chinese audience that will want to go to cheer me. But I also adjusted my mentality. Even if the audience boos me, I will just think they like me.”
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