Preview + Staff Pick: Jessica Andrade vs. Weili Zhang
Featured Image Credit: WMMA Rankings
The UFC is going to China this weekend, and it is headlined by a countrywoman, Weili Zhang, who is vying for Jessica Andrade’s 115 belt. This could be a perfect marketing storm for the promotion, but this is no easy fight for Zhang.
Weili Zhang has fought 3 times in the octagon, amassing a perfect 3-0 record with two wins by decision and an armbar submission victory over Jessica Aguilar. She is on an incredible 19 fight winning streak, only losing her MMA debut in 2013 in her native China. She has 9 wins by KO, 7 by sub, and only 3 by decision. She is no stranger to the finish, and look for her to take advantage of more technical striking against Andrade. She will need to find her range early and keep Andrade at bay, who is a very good pressure striker. Although she is a purple belt in BJJ, look for her to keep it standing against the champion, who is a brown belt currently. If Zhang should find herself victorious this weekend, she will become the first Chinese UFC champion, and she will do so in the most populated country in the world, a market the UFC has been trying to crack for some time now. Having a hometown hero in Zhang may be their golden ticket.
Andrade, however, will not go gentle into that good night. The current Strawweight queen is coming off of an ultra impressive slam knockout of Rose Namajunas. She has previously fought as high as 135 pounds, amassing multiple victories, including over former title challenger Rocky Pennington. She is a 5’2” wrecking ball in the octagon. She is without a doubt the strongest lady in the division, able to muscle her way into advantageous positions. She also has shown knockout power in her recent finish of Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Her last loss was in her first title shot against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, where she did not have the stamina to compete with the Polish superstar. Since then, she has gone the distance twice, but they were only 3 round fights. Zhang has never gone further than three rounds, so should this fight go into championship rounds, it will be interesting to see how each fighter’s gas tank is. Look for Andrade to made it a dog fight, including a lot of work in the clinch. She is again the smaller fighter, but look for her to look for the jabs on the outside before exploding in to force Zhang into her world.