Fights come and go, but for some, it’s not just about the contest—it’s about honor, ambition, and a deep-rooted desire to stand atop the world. Zhang Peimian, better known as the “Fighting Rooster”, is one such combatant. His recent performances have not just been battles in the ring; they’ve been assertions of his undeniable talent and undying determination to rectify past defeats.
On the cusp of another significant bout, Peimian is set to face Rui Botelho at the imminent ONE Fight Night 16: Haggerty vs. Andrade, slated for November 3. The event promises to be a heated affair at Bangkok’s iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, but for Peimian, it’s one more step toward a singular dream: a rematch with Jonathan Di Bella and the ONE Strawweight Kickboxing World Title.
Speaking to onefc.com, Peimian couldn’t hide his enthusiasm: “I was so excited when I received the offer because [I am eager to fight again]. I’m preparing for the fight right now. I have been doing lots of training to improve myself.” This excitement isn’t just the adrenaline of an upcoming match—it’s the anticipation of proving himself once more.
In a division as competitive as strawweight kickboxing, the stakes are high. Peimian’s last victory, a dominant win over Torepchi Dongak at ONE Fight Night 8, saw him bounce back from his loss to Di Bella. While Zhang might be a favorite given his impressive record, winning three out of his last four fights, he knows the importance of studying his opponent.
Rui Botelho, a veteran from Portugal, is not to be underestimated. The 28-year-old has competed in ONE seven times, facing formidable names like Superlek Kiatmoo9 and Panpayak Jitmuangnon. While his move to strawweight seems more natural, he packs experience, technique, and an innate advantage in weight and height over the younger Peimian.
Diving into his preparations, Zhang said, “I don’t know him very well, but I watched some videos of his previous contests after receiving the offer. He is older and more mature than me. He has good technique, and his previous opponents were very good.”
However, Peimian believes he possesses something vital that Botelho doesn’t—a speed and style that might be Botelho’s undoing. “Our styles are very different,” Zhang notes, believing he will “control the game with high-frequency striking.” While Botelho’s style brings a rich mix of techniques and experience, the intensity and relentless pace of the “Fighting Rooster” promise a thrilling showdown.
At the heart of this anticipation is a burning goal. Peimian dreams of facing Di Bella again, a specter from his past. Their first encounter was a rollercoaster—a fight where Zhang seemed on the brink of victory, only to suffer a knockdown in the final moments. The memory of that loss, a unanimous decision against him after a grueling 15 minutes, remains a stinging reminder.
Zhang’s ambition isn’t just about avenging that loss, but proving his evolution as a fighter. His comeback bout against Torepchi Dongak at ONE Fight Night 8 was a testament to his growing prowess—a performance that echoed his desire to reclaim the throne.
Still, while his sights are undoubtedly set on Di Bella and the title, Peimian remains grounded, emphasizing the fight at hand. “Every fighter wants to win their match, and I’ll try my best. I’m desperate to have the World Title fight, but right now I’m more focused on ONE Fight Night 16. After I win, we’ll see what happens.”
Botelho, despite his struggles, is a genuine challenge. Zhang’s previous bout, where he began with a strong offensive against Di Bella, ended in a twist of fate. The prodigy from Guangxi, China, lost steam in the championship rounds. This time around, he’s learned from past mistakes, emphasizing the importance of staying vigilant and never underestimating an opponent.
For Zhang Peimian, the “Fighting Rooster”, this isn’t just another match—it’s a step closer to redemption, a dream rekindled, and a title that beckons him once more.