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Coach: Li Jingliang expected to return in October, likes fights with Vicente Luque, Leon Edwards, or Neil Magny rematch

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Neil Magny vs. Li Jingliang
Neil Magny was the last man to beat Li Jinglang in the UFC, winning a decision in February 2018.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Li Jingliang wants a top-ranked opponent for his next octagon appearance.

The Chinese welterweight scored the biggest win of his UFC career this past January, putting an end to Santiago Ponzinibbio’s winning streak with a massive first-round knockout in Abu Dhabi, and his team is now hoping to get him in a key bout in the fourth quarter of 2021.

According to China Top Team head coach Ruy Menezes, Jingliang won’t be fighting anytime soon since he’s busy recording a TV show. He says that “The Leech” came close to a match with Leon Edwards earlier this year.

“Jingliang came out of that fight [with Ponzinibbio] completely fine and could fight again a week later,” Menezes told MMA Fighting. “And his manager from Paradigm, the same group that manages Leon Edwards, said they were going to offer a fight between them to the UFC, and they thought the UFC was open to it. But Jingliang stopped for now because he’s doing a TV show in China, so he asked to fight in October.”

Jingliang is 10-4 under the UFC banner with seven knockout victories, including stoppages over Ponzinibbio, Elizeu Zaleski and Dhiego Lima. For Menezes, it’s time to book the Chinese star against someone ranked in the top 10.

“Jingliang is the No. 11 right now, so anyone in the top 10 would be excellent for him,” Menezes said. “I think they could match him up against Vicente Luque, who’s on a roll right now and is an exceptional fighter. Or even Leon Edwards.”

Luque has yet to get his next fight booked after stopping Tyron Woodley inside one round in March, his third straight finish in the UFC. Edwards return to the cage in June, facing Nate Diaz.

Another “good” plan for Jingliang, Menezes says, would be a rematch with Neil Magny. Magny gave “The Leech” his only loss in the past three years, an unanimous decision back in March 2020.

“We thought about asking for a rematch with Neil Magny because that fight was atypical, we had several issues — but we can’t give out excuses, we simply lost,” Menezes said. “I think anyone from the top 10 would be welcome.”