By the time she had won the women's strawweight title over Jessica Andrade in stunning knockout fashion before a delirious partisan audience in Shenzhen, the tagline still felt a bit overused. But she had just become the UFC's first-ever Chinese (and Asian) champion, so you had to know she was going to whip out her carefully practiced, go-to English phrase with the MMA world watching.
"My name is Zhang Weili. I am from China. Remember me!"
No, it's not "My name is Iñigo Montoya, you kill my father, prepare to die," but Zhang Weili insisted on sticking with it, imploring us all to remember her even after previously serving up the exact same phrase after piecing up Tecia Torres at UFC 235 back in March 2019.
And now, after a rip-roaring, breathtaking title defense against Joanna Jedrzejczyk Saturday night in the dramatic climax of UFC 248 that will be in the running for every year-end accolade in the known universe, we've got to give Zhang her props.
She didn't ask us to remember her this time. She didn't have to -- because she had just become a legend.
It instantly became combat orthodoxy to declare Zhang's bloody, brutal split decision triumph over Joanna as the greatest fight in women's mixed martial arts history, but that lofty distinction may still sell short what the Chinese champ really showed us that night in Vegas. We tend not to associate truly damaging striking power with 115-pound human beings, but there's something different about wily Weili.
Just look at the two-floor condo that was Jedrzejczyk's forehead after the fight. Seriously, she looked like a "Star Trek" alien. And we're not talking about an easy bleeder here -- Joanna might still be the strawweight GOAT, all things considered.
It simply speaks to the power of Zhang.
And the staying power of Zhang.
I'll spare you the easy-if-not-questionable pun-based post-fight proclamation of a so-called "Zhang Dynasty" for the strawweight class in the years to come. After all, the dangerous Rose Namajunas is waiting in the wings to end the champ's reign after a single title defense, and Joanna has more than earned a rematch if she wants it.
But in this sporting era of speaking one's dreams into existence, few could ever aspire to such a meteoric rise to worldwide beast status as if it were ordained in the stars.