Typically, when you’re about to compete in a title fight, posting a meme with a laughing emoji about a still raging illness that has killed more than 100 citizens of the champion’s home country is a bad look.
And yet, that’s just what UFC strawweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk did in the run-up to her fight against Zhang Weili. Zhang, the first Chinese champion in the history of the UFC, was not amused.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk posts meme about coronavirus
Jedrzejczyk started things off with a post of a fan-made meme on her Instagram story. The graphic showed a poster of the two fighters, with Jedrzejczyk edited to be wearing a gas mask. Three emojis, one of them laughing, sat atop the graphic.
With the coronavirus outbreak still dominating headlines as the death toll in China hits 132 and the country deals with nearly 6,000 cases inside its borders, it wasn’t hard to guess what Jedrzejczyk was referring to with the meme.
— ZombieProphet (@GIFsZP) January 28, 2020
Yeah, not great.
Jedrzejczyk would later remove the post from her story. That wouldn’t stop Zhang from responding with an Instagram post of her own, insinuating that Jedrzejczyk showed her character by making fun of the outbreak and telling her not to joke about it.
That post led to Jedrzejczyk posting a statement to Zhang from her car, though calling it an apology might be generous.
Hey champ. Hey Weili. So sorry to make you feel bad, but I’d never make fun of sick people or a virus. So I didn’t want you to get offended, but I just made fun of the funny internet meme. So, so sorry, but still, I’ll see you March 7. Don’t get emotional, OK?
Sure, the word “sorry” appears in there, but it’s also laughable to say that Jedrzejczyk wasn’t making fun of “sick people.” She hides behind semantics by claiming to be making fun of a funny internet meme and not the people, but that falls apart when you consider just what Jedrzejczyk would have found funny about the meme in the first place.
And, of course, not many worthwhile apologies end with the words “Don’t get emotional.”
Zhang and Jedrzejczyk are scheduled to square off at UFC 248 on March 7, Zhang’s first title defense and Jedrzejczyk’s third attempt to claim a UFC belt after losing the strawweight title in 2017.
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