You Can Just See the Dollar Signs Popping Out of Dana White’s Head… Weili Zhang is the New and First Chinese Women’s Strawweight Champion of the World…
UFC Shenzhen went down last night with Brazil’s Jessica Andrade defending her title for the first time against China’s Weili Zhang. ‘The Pitbull’ went into enemy territory to fight her challenger – and as Rose Namajunas found out when she did the same thing against her, it’s not always a good idea.
The running narrative behind this one was that this mere fight night could be one of the most important cards in the history of the promotion. If Zhang won, she would be the first Chinese UFC champion and potentially expose the sport and create a new interest in the world’s most populated country.
Well, that’s exactly what happened. Zhang scorched Andrade in a way that very few people could have expected. She’s now the champion and could conceivably become the promotion’s biggest ever superstar.
— MMA India (@MMAIndiaShow) August 31, 2019
This can’t be overstated: Zhang is on course to become the UFC’s biggest star after this crazy knockout victory over Andrade. She melted the Brazilian in a 43-second performance. It was a scary win that was basically a tale of knees and elbows. Andrade came out of the blocks hard as you’d expect, but Zhang was prepared to fight fire with fire.
She caught Andrade with a stiff right hand and soon had her in all sorts of trouble. Zhang smashed her with brutal knees and elbows before referee Leon Edwards finally intervened to save the Brazilian’s bacon.
— AfterSound (@AfterSoundMusic) August 31, 2019
China is seen as a crucial market for the UFC if it wants to continue dominating the sport with increasing competition from ONE Championship – who incidentally have their own Chinese flyweight champ in Xiong Jing Nan. Now the UFC has their own equivalent and she’s frightening.
Zhang is no token champion. She’s riding an incredible 20-fight winning streak and this was a dominant performance against one of the most physical women in MMA today. Andrade is also the most experienced female fighter on the roster. She set the record tonight for most appearances by a woman in the UFC.
“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 in her post-fight interview. “Thank you, everyone. My name is Zhang Weili, I’m from China! Remember me!”
Weili Zhang becomes the first ever Chinese UFC champion and just look what it means to her 🙌
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) August 31, 2019
End of Story
For Andrade, this is a terrible blow. The warning signs were there for her after the UFC booked this fight in the first place. They blatantly wanted Zhang to win, with little effort to market Andrade who defeated the well-loved Rose Namajunas to win the belt. She said:
“I’m very happy to have fought here in China. 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.”