Strawweight champion Zhang clashed with Jedrzejczyk in the build-up to their octagon classic on March 8 after the challenger posted a photo on social media in which she appeared to mock the coronavirus outbreak, although the pair ended their differences by supporting each other during their hospital stay in the aftermath of a gory scrap that left Jedrzejczyk looking barely recognizable.
Now the formidable Beijing-based fighter is preparing to return to her homeland after being marooned in the US for more than two months while the global health crisis has escalated, causing many commercial travel routes to be closed.
“It feels like yesterday when everyone was together,” Zhang told her following of almost 500,000 on Instagram, where she has confessed to homesickness during her extended Stateside stay. “Soon we will be again.
“I want to thank the UFC and Dana White for taking care of me. I want to thank the fans for supporting me.
“Most of all, we must thank the doctors and nurses that have been fighting this virus so we can all come together again.
“I miss everyone but good times will come to us all again.”
Confirming her return to China, which first reported no deaths from Covid-19 in a day almost two weeks ago, Zhang’s manager, Brian Butler-Au, told ESPN that his charge will spend two weeks in hotel quarantine before being allowed to return home.
The final leg of a complicated couple of months for Zhang comes after she initially abandoned her training camp in the Chinese capital amid concerns over the virus, heading to Thailand and Abu Dhabi before UFC officials opted to move her to America early, on February 21.
Zhang’s bloody split decision victory over Jedrzejczyk turned out to be the last event held by the UFC in front of a live crowd so far this year, despite president White’s desperate efforts to find a venue and available fighters for UFC 249, which was eventually cancelled at little more than a week’s notice earlier this month.
Zhang supported White’s plan to replace Khabib Nurmagomedov, who faced a similarly bewildering succession of travel issues in trying to plan a route between Russia and an unconfirmed venue, with Justin Gaethje in the headline fight of a card that would have taken place on an island.
Despite missing sparring and seeing her hopes of being able to watch UFC 249 dashed, Zhang has continued to publish footage of her own fitness regime and encouraged her supporters to follow health guidelines during the pandemic.
Posting a video of herself sparring in a spacesuit-style outfit the day before she was due to leave Vegas, she also wrote that “life today is like a fishbowl” and promoted the hand weights she is using to keep her firsts ready for her return to action.