Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s decision to post a message making light of the rapidly developing Chinese coronavirus crisis was met with an angry response from her upcoming opponent, Chinese UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili.
The pair are set to face off in the co-main event of UFC 248 in Las Vegas on March 7, and it seems a poorly-chosen attempt at humor has backfired spectacularly.
In a reference to the coronavirus, Jedrzejczyk posted an edited version of a UFC fight poster to her Instagram story, with herself wearing a gas mask while standing behind Zhang. After receiving some backlash from fans, she subsequently deleted the post from her story.
But screenshots of her post were soon spread across social media, and Jedrzejczyk’s Instagram joke did not go down well with Zhang, who posted a message of her own, letting the former champion know that she was far from impressed with the Pole’s post.
“To make fun of tragedy is a true sign of one’s character,” she wrote.
“People are dying, someone’s father, someone’s mother, someone’s child. Say what you want about me if it makes you feel stronger but do not joke about what’s happening here. I wish you good health until March 7th. I will see you soon.”
Jedrzejczyk then posted an apology video to her Instagram story, saying: “Hey champ. Hey Weili. So sorry to make you feel bad, but I would never make fun of people with an illness or virus. I didn’t want you to get offended, but I just made fun of the funny internet meme. So, so sorry, but still, I will see you March 7th and don’t get emotional, OK?”
It seems what was mainly a competitive rivalry may have become a little more personal as a result of Jedrzejczyk’s social media faux-pas, and the heat around the pair heading into fight week in March will likely be a little bit warmer as they lead up to their world title clash in Vegas.