Shenzhen, China is the UFC’s host city Saturday commencing a 12-week run of fght cards that will end in Sao Paolo, Brazil on Nov. 16. While the fan base in Brazil is highly sophisticated and knowledgeable regarding MMA, the base in China is vastly underdeveloped-- while at the same time offering the UFC potential for explosive growth.
Those cards in Brazil allow the UFC to highlight local and regional talent often in advantageous positions to maintain the fervor of their growth in the area. In the case with this week’s Shenzhen card it’s my belief that the organization (for most of the card) tossed warm underdeveloped local/regional talent into match-ups with further unrecognizable overseas opponents resulting in a slate not quite up to normal UFC standards but one that will be desirable to a Chinese clientele whose appetite for MMA is voracious and growing. This fght card will begin Saturday at 12 a.m.
PT with the main card commencing at 3 a.m. PT so we have a situation here where somewhat unrecognizable talent is fghting half a world away in the middle of the night. That said, we break down main events here and I’ll offer an insight into the top two match-ups this weekend.
Jessica Andrade -180 vs.
Weili Zhang 150
Woman’s Strawweight (125lbs.)
Andrade is a hand grenade in that she is undersized at 5’2” but highly explosive, athletic and mighty strong. She won the title three months ago with an impressive slam of former Champion Rose Namajunas in Brazil and now toes the company line for a date in Brazil against a fghter quite one dimensional in fght arsenal yet one riding a nineteen-fght win streak, the last three of which have been in the UFC. Zhang, the Chinese challenger, is a thirty-year-old purple belt in BJJ. She is really a basic stand up striker and will not choose to go to the foor against Andrade under any condition.
Rather, Zhang is going to try to utilize movement to supplement her height and reach advantage and pick Andrade apart with straight strikes as the Champion attempts to get inside to maul, grope and grapple with Zhang. Andrade on her part will need to navigate the length and effectiveness of Zhang’s jab and earn her way inside the pocket.
This will mute Zhang’s striking effectiveness while simultaneously allowing Andrade the positioning to impart destruction on her challenger from an up close and personal manner. Andrade is a new champion, one travelling to China for her frst defense against a local who is lacking in quality of past competition but who has momentum and a nation of billions behind her. Zhang is not out of her league in this spot as evidenced by the current price on this fght but based on who Andrade’s been in the Octagon with, I must favor her here in what could well be a fve-round decision. With overseas fghts it’s mandatory to consume the weigh-in process prior to making any commitment based purely on the complexities travel imparts on the weigh-in process. Pass at this point
Elizieu dos Santos -300 vs.
Li Jingliang 240
Welterweight (170lb.) Co-main Event
I bring this fght up simply to highlight the dynamic match-up. Sure, this card is shy on name recognition, talent and hype but this fght may be one of the most brutal beatdowns of the year! These two men will absolutely attack one another in this fght.
Jingliang, nicknamed ‘the Leech’ is a deliberate, forward plodding stand up striker who looks to fnish opponents while displaying little form of quickness, fuidity or defense. That said, his toughness is legendary and he’ll absolutely be dangerous in this spot in front of the Chinese hordes.
His opponent dos Santos may be one of the more underrated fghters in the Welterweight (170lbs) division. Dos Santos has dynamite in each hand and will be the faster more explosive striker equipped with a fully functional advantage on the mat.
Dos Santos is in a most dangerous predicament here for he’s fghting a challenger well below his status a half a world away from his country in the other man’s backyard. This is a gutsy call by Dos Santos and he has much more to lose in this fght than to gain which is why I give ‘the Leech’ a little consideration in this spot but will choose to wait and determine if this line may approach 300. As we know when considering underdogs it’s often advantageous to be patient and allow the price to gain value.
Stipe Miocic’s Championship in UFC 241 moved my record to 12-13 this year ( 0.25 units). More main event breakdowns will be in coming as the fall lineup is deep.