UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs. Zhang Preview

UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs. Zhang Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Shenzhen, China.

Updated: Aug. 28, 2019 • 9:26 PM ET

Shenzhen, China will host this weekend's UFC Fight Night event.

The UFC will return to China this Saturday with a main event featuring newly crowned women’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade defending the title for the first time against No. 6 Weili Zhang. The co-main event will be a welterweight battle between Li Jingliang and No. 14 Elizeu dos Santos.

In her home country of Brazil, Andrade won the strawweight title with one of the best knockouts of 2019 when she slammed Rose Namajunas to the Octagon floor in the second round of their championship bout at UFC 237 in May. For Saturday’s bout, however, Andrade has traveled across the globe into hostile territory to face an opponent fighting at home.

Andrade (20-6, 14 finishes, 11-4 in UFC) is riding a four-fight winning streak since her first time challenging for the title, a unanimous decision loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 211 in 2017. On her path to winning the title, she defeated top contenders Claudia Gadelha, Tecia Torres and Karolina Kowalkiewicz with one of the best knockouts of 2018.

The 27-year-old Brazilian is thinking about a super-fight with flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko if she can win on Saturday.

“That’s a fight I would really like to have,” Andrade said Portal do Vale Tudo. “I believe that if I win my next fight, which is my most important fight at the moment, who knows, I might ask for this Shevchenko fight. She’s the best at flyweight, so it would be a cool test for me.

“I really like her, I always hug her, greet her and talk to her everywhere we meet. She’s really nice, but I want to test myself, too. I want to see what level I’m at, if I have really improved. If I defend my title now, I do want to ask for the chance to fight Valentina and become a champion in two different weight classes.”

Zhang (19-1, 3-0 in UFC) has won 19 straight fights since losing her professional debut in 2013. She last defeated Torres by unanimous decision at UFC 235 in March and will attempt to become China’s first UFC champion this weekend.

"If I could become the first UFC world champion, it means that I finally realized my dream,” Zhang recently said via Xinhua. “Meanwhile, it means that MMA will become more recognized and known to more Chinese people, and it can get more people involved in this kind of sports. In this sense, I think what I'm doing is very meaningful."

The 30-year-old Zhang wants to use her UFC notoriety to help grow the popularity of MMA in China.

"My first goal is to win the championship on Aug. 31,” Zhang said. “If I could win, more people will start to have an interest in this sport. Just like famous Chinese athletes Yao Ming and Li Na, they promoted the development of a sport after they achieved outstanding results. I will also follow their steps to spread MMA in China.

"In recent years, more and more Chinese people are getting involved in MMA. I have seen many fighting and boxing clubs open in China, and more Chinese children started to take up MMA training. There are many more TV programs and films spreading the idea of mixed martial arts.”

 

Co-main event

Saturday’s co-main event will be a welterweight bout between No. 14 Elizeu dos Santos and Li Jingliang.

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Dos Santos (21-5, 7-1 in the UFC) is on a seven-fight winning streak (four finishes), most recently defeating Curtis Millender by first-round submission in March to earn a spot in the top 15 of the welterweight rankings. His last loss came in his UFC debut by split-decision to Nicolas Dalby in 2015, and he hopes a win on Saturday will pair him with a higher ranked opponent in his next fight.

“I don’t know why non-American fighters are seen differently,” dos Santos recently told MMA Junkie. “But I think I’m doing my part. I’m putting on good fights. Sooner or later, I’ll have the chance to face someone ranked above me.”

As far as fighting Jingliang in his home country of China, Dos Santos said, “Li Jingliang is a complete fighter with a good history of wins. He’s a real star in China. He’s well respected. It’s an honor to face him, even if he’s not ranked.

“It’s going to be a very fast-paced fight, since he also favors striking. He also has good ground and clinch games. One of my goals was to fight in China. This is a great honor. I expect us to put on a great striking show.”

Jingliang (16-5, 8-3 in UFC) is riding a two-fight winning streak, most recently defeating David Zawada in Beijing in November and winning Performance of the Night honors. He was originally scheduled to fight Dos Santos in November, but Dos Santos withdrew from the bout with a knee injury and Zawada replaced him.

Dos Santos, who would represent the biggest win of Jingliang’s career, will have to use his speed to out-strike the heavy-handed JingLiang. Jingliang has four performance bonuses in his last five fights and is one of the most exciting fighters in the welterweight division. The 31-year-old has notable victories over Dhiego Lima, Frank Camacho and Zak Ottow. In his losing efforts, however, the difference was his tendency to absorb punches while staying in the pocket too long.

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN+

Flyweight bout - No. 10 Kai Kara-France vs. No. 14 Mark De La Rosa

Featherweight bout - Lv Zhenhong vs. Movsar Evloev

Women's flyweight bout - Wu Yanan vs. Mizuki Inoue

 

ESPN prelims

Welterweight bout - Song Kenan vs. Derrick Krantz

Middleweight bout - Jun Yong Park vs. Anthony Hernandez

Bantamweight bout - Su Mudaerji vs. Andre Soukhamthath

Light heavyweight bout - Da Un Jung vs. Khadis Ibragimov

Lightweight bout - Damir Ismagulov vs. Thiago Moisés

Bantamweight bout - Heili Alateng vs. Danaa Batgerel

Women's bantamweight bout - Karol Rosa vs. Lara Procopio

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