LAS VEGAS – After 13 months away from competition, Song Kenan is anxious to resume his fighting career – both for himself and his country.

With MMA and the UFC currently experiencing tremendous growth in China, thanks in no small part due to the success of reigning strawweight champion Zhang Weili, Kenan says she’s proven to be an inspiration for a generation of athletes from her home country.

“Zhang Weili becoming champion, this inspired Chinese fighters, made us more confident,” Kenan said through an interpreter at Wednesday’s media day at the UFC Apex. “If she can achieve this, maybe there are more champions that come out (of China).”

The 31-year-old Chinese fighter hopes to make himself a candidate for such achievements later in his career. He’ll take the next step in that effort at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 21 event, which takes place at the UFC Apex and airs on ESPN following prelims on ESPN2.

Kenan (16-5 MMA, 4-1 UFC) faces fellow welterweight Max Griffin (16-8 MMA, 4-6 UFC) on the night’s main card.

“I think the matchup is very good,” Kenan said. “It will be a very good fight.”

For Kenan, it marks his first fight in more than a year, and he admits the time off has made him “hungry” to return. In the meantime, Kenan said he’s been working on all aspects of his game but feels he’s made the biggest strides in his striking skills.

Despite the long layoff, a victory would mean three straight for Kenan and give him five wins in six total UFC appearances, but he insists he’s not worried too much about where he stands with a win and simply wants to perform at peak level.

“Step by step to achieve my three wins,” Kenan said. “I want this so much; I will try my best.”

Watch the video above to check out Kenan’s full media day availability.