The UFC’s venture into the Chinese market couldn’t have gone better.
Not only was the card stacked with the best mixed martial artists China has produced, but many of them triumphed that night.
Weili Zhang has been fighting since 2013. While she would lose a decision in her debut, she’d go on to win her next twenty fights in a row, with the most recent being the triumphant title victory in front of an ecstatic crowd at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre Arena.
Zhang’s UFC debut in 2018 saw her win against Danielle Taylor. Victories over Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres followed, putting her next in line for a shot at the strawweight championship. Jessica Andrade had won the title by defeating Rose Namajunas by an emphatic slam knockout, though many wondered how she’d fare against the striking of Zhang.
Fans got their answer, as Zhang clipped Andrade only seconds into the fight. A flurry of punches and elbows later, and Zhang had gotten the job done in less than a minute. It’s one of the quickest and most dominant title victories in history, and China has finally gotten its first UFC champion.
Zhang has gotten praise from many in the MMA community for her win, including former bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. The new champion has plenty of contenders waiting in the rankings for a shot, including Namajunas. However, she is a formidable competitor who could likely be favored against any woman in the top ten.
Andrade may have simply been stunned in the fight, and this caused her to make bad defensive decisions as she continued to walk straight at her opponent. She did take the loss with class, posting a statement and congratulating her opponent.
Andrade said she was trained and focused, but that the initial shot she got clipped which put her on a sequence she couldn’t recover from. The fighter said she didn’t feel embarrassed, and that it had happened to the best fighters out there. She listed many of her Brazilian colleagues such as Cyborg, Anderson Silva, and JDS.
Her upbeat attitude even in the face of such a high-profile loss is admirable and leads many to wish they could follow her example. It could be possible that she comes back in the future, and perhaps gets another shot at the title.
Also on the card, welterweight Li Jingliang defeated Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos via TKO in the final ten seconds of their fight. It was a triumphant victory that saw him put an exclamation mark on a solid performance. It was a close fight heading into the third, so seeing the hometown hero score the win with so little time on the clock was like something out of a movie.
The UFC continues finding success in new markets and seeing different areas of the world represented. They recently crowned the first Nigerian-born champ in Kamaru Usman and will have a blockbuster clash in the Oceania region next month as Robert Whittaker faces Israel Adesanya.