Rose Namajunas flew to enemy territory in May and lost the UFC strawweight title to Jessica Andrade in Brazil. Now, it was Andrade’s turn to go into her foe’s home turf and meet Weili Zhang in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Shenzhen in China.
It didn’t end well for her.
“Bate Estaca” and Zhang traded hands hands frantically since the beginning of the fight, and it didn’t take long for Zhang to hurt the Brazilian with a right hand to the chin. Zhang smelled blood and went for the finish, landing a series of elbows in the clinch and knees to the body and to the head before dropping Andrade again. Referee Leon Roberts saw enough and mercifully saved Andrade from further punishment at the 42-second mark, crowning Zhang as the new 115-pound queen.
“Last time when I was in Beijing, I made a commitment: I’m going to be the first-ever champion of the Chinese fighters. Now today I made it,” said Zhang, who now rides an incredible 20-fight winning streak. “Thank you, everyone. My name is Zhang Weili, I’m from China! Remember me!”
Heartbroken with the defeat—the eighth-fastest finish in the history of tile fights in the UFC—Andrade volunteered to run it back if that’s what the company wants.
“I’m very happy to have fought here in China,” Andrade said after the loss. “I know exactly what Weili Zhang is going through right now, it’s how happy I was when I fought Rose in Brazil. If she gives me the opportunity to train more and give me a rematch, it would be an honor. It could be here in China, in Brazil, in the United States. I don’t mind fighting here again.”
“This is my style, this is who I am,” she said when asked what she would do differently if given another chance against the Chinese powerhouse. “I’m aggressive and I move forward the entire time. It wasn’t my day, unfortunately, but I’ve had my days before so I’m ready for everything. It’s in God’s hands and He knows it all.”
The Chinese party continued in the co-main event, with Li Jingliang scoring the biggest win of his MMA career in front of the Shenzhen crowd. Elizeu Zaleski entered the cage on a seven-fight winning streak, but Jingliang was one step ahead of him the entire time, countering with precise punches and knocking Zaleski down with a heavy right hand in the first round. Zaleski got back up to eat another knee to the head, but made it out of the round.
Jingliang kept connecting in the second as Zaleski moved forward to pay him back for the knockdown, but Jingliang used his opponent’s reckless aggressiveness to land good counters. With less than a minute left on the clock in the final round, Jingliang dropped Zaleski with a brutal uppercut, following with five punches to force the referee to put an end to the fight at 4:51.
“I’ve been fighting hard, I’ve been preparing hard for this fight. I’ll keep fighting hard,” said Jingliang, who’s now on a three-fight winning streak and 6-1 in his last seven with five stoppage victories. “I now I wanna say, China power!”
Kai Kara-France continued to climb the flyweight rankings with a fun decision win over Mark De La Rosa. After a failed attempt to get to the fight to the ground, De La Rosa and Kara-France went for it on the feet.
De La Rosa’s corner asked him to “keep him guessing” in the second, but it was Kara-France who got the best of the exchange in the first moments of the round, knocking his opponent down with a right hand. De La Rosa was dropped again with a leg kick, and Kara-France got so comfortable on the feet he even went for a cartwheel kick that didn’t land.
Kara-France landed a good kick to the body in the final round that hurt De La Rosa, following with punches, elbows and knees, but De La Rosa hang in there and even asked for more. Kara-France couldn’t get the finish, but improved to 3-0 in the UFC with a unanimous decision win (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Kenan Song and Derrick Krantz put on an exciting welterweight contest in Shenzhen. After exchanging bombs with his opponent in the first round, Krantz changed his game plan a little bit in the next round, taking Song to the ground with a suplex and trying to lock in a Von Flue choke as Song went for a guillotine.
Both fighters were exhausted in the final minutes of the last round after two fast-paced ones, and Song was declared the winner on all scorecards (29-28x3). The Chinese talent now holds a 3-1 record since joining the UFC, while Krantz dropped to 0-2 in the Octagon.
In the main card opener, former Deep Jewels strawweight titleholder Mizuki Inoue made the most of her Octagon debut against an overweight Wu Yanan, who missed the flyweight limit by three pounds on Friday and was fined 30 percent of her purse.
Inoue was the aggressor during the 15-minute contest, avoiding Yanan’s takedowns and landing the better strikes despite the height and weight disadvantage. Even though she didn’t inflict much damage to Yanan, she did enough to win via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Only two of the five preliminary matches ended via stoppage, with Anthony Hernandez tapping Jun Yong Park with an anaconda choke in the second round and Da Un Jung choking Khadis Ibragimov with a guillotine with three minutes left in the clock in the final round.