Despite being 7 feet 1 inch tall, Shaquille O’Neal struggled to defeat Zhang Weili.
The NBA legend weighs almost 25 stone (350 lb). But when he faced the UFC strawweight champion, he discovered that his weight was useless against a skilled opponent.
Zhang Weili measures 5ft 4in and weighs 8 stone (112 lb). Their unexpected encounter took place at a gym, and O’Neal was curious about the prowess of the 8-stone MMA star.
He requested her to deliver a body shot. Initially hesitant, Zhang obliged by lightly touching O’Neal’s stomach with her fist. Encouraged by O’Neal, she mustered more power and landed a straight right hand on his body.
Although it was likely a fraction of Zhang’s full strength, the impact was enough to leave O’Neal visibly shaken and doubling over in pain.
Following the blow, Zhang further demonstrated her incredible strength by effortlessly lifting O’Neal into the air. O’Neal’s eyes widened in surprise once again when a lady who was just one-third his stature demonstrated her ability to carry and hit O’Neal.
Zhang’s exceptional strength might have surprised ‘Shaq’ and casual basketball fans. But for MMA enthusiasts, it was a reaffirmation of her unparalleled abilities. In 2022, she astounded the combat sports world by hoisting former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (who weighed nearly 21 stone at the time) over her shoulder with ease.
While weightlifting may be a viable future pursuit for Zhang, her immediate focus lies in cementing her status as one of the greatest female MMA combatants of all time. Her most recent bout in August showcased her dominance as she faced off against Amanda Lemos in UFC 292.
Also, she broke the previous UFC record for most strikes landed in a single bout by a female competitor (296).
She outstruck Lemos by an astounding 267 strikes, setting yet another record for the largest striking differential in a female UFC bout. Lemos could only connect 29 times.
Zhang is currently waiting to find out who her next opponent will be.