For the second time in a row, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will return to the orient directly after Thanksgiving for a UFC Fight Pass exclusive event. This time around, UFC Fight Night 141 will take the Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China on Saturday morning (Nov. 24, 2018) with some heavyweight action in the main event. Before that though, there are a trio of Chinese talents being showcased on the main card, so let’s take a closer look at the skills and keys to victory of those men and their foes. In addition, MMAmania.com’s Jesse Holland will preview and predict the main- and co-main bouts as we get closer to showtime later this week.
Welterweight: Kenan Song vs. Alex Morono
Best Win for Song? Bobby Nash For Morono? Josh Burkman
Current Streak: Two victories for Song, a single defeat for Morono
X-Factor: Morono’s grappling
How these two match up: Kenan Song is a definite bruiser. Of the Chinese athlete’s 15 victories, all but two of them came within the distance, and he’s finished both of his UFC appearances via knockout. Admittedly, Alex Morono is a step up in competition. The scrappy Texan has a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt to his name, but he generally prefers to throw down by either brawling on the feet or throwing wild Taekwondo kicks.
We know what Song is likely to do here: walk down Morono, stand in front of him, and throw some power shots. Morono is very likely to oblige him in his own way, circling and kicking somewhat, but planting his feet and trading when he feels the urge.
Song is the heavier hitter with more consistent offensive output, which is the reason he’s a slight favorite in this match up. However, there are a pair of questions facing Song in this match up. First and foremost, is his defensive grappling any good? Neither of his previous UFC opponents tested that part of his game. Secondly, can Song maintain a pace for three-straight rounds? Morono is tough as old leather and more than willing to eat shots to wear down his opponent if need be.
In truth, it’s hard to know the answer to either question until Saturday morning.
Prediction: Song via unanimous decision
Welterweight: Li Jingliang vs. David Zawada
Best Win for Jingliang? Frank Camacho For Zawada? Andreas Stahl
Current Streak: One win for Jingling, a loss for Zawada
X-Factor: Jingliang’s fundamental lack of concern for defense
How these two match up: For a long time, Jingliang carried the flag as the only successful Chinese fighter in UFC. As evidenced by this main card alone, that’s no longer the case; however, Jingliang’s combination of raw aggression, physicality and wrestling still make him one of the country’s best mixed martial artists. Opposite him will be Germany’s Zawada, a veteran of the European scene who has fought a very high-level of competition for quite some time now.
This is an interesting one. Jingliang and Zawada both tend to bully opponents with takedowns, but it seems unlikely that either man will have enough of an edge to consistently take down the other. That’s not to say there won’t be one or two big, important takedowns, but much of this fight is likely to go down in the kickboxing range.
Jingliang is the more powerful puncher by a fair margin. At the same time, he’s needlessly sloppy, and Zawada does have a four inch reach advantage. If Zawada can establish the jab, his chances increase greatly, but I don’t know that the German has ever really focused on controlling range when his game is generally to close distance.
When given a very close fight, I’ll side with the man with more UFC experience fighting in his home country.
Prediction: Jingliang via unanimous decision
Bantamweight: Song Yadong vs. Vince Morales
Best Win for Yadong? Felipe Arantes For Morales? Brandon Hempleman
Current Streak: Five wins for Yadong (two in UFC), one regional victory for Morales
X-Factor: Song’s power
How these two match up: Yadong Song is China’s best prospect right now. He’s 20 years old — well maybe, there’s conflicting reports on that, but the main point is that he’s quite young — and has already displayed a well-rounded game with absurd athleticism. Also of note, Yadong has spent the majority of the last year training with Team Alpha Male, and I’ve personally seen him wrestling most days with training partners like Darren Elkins.
Take it from me, I don’t expect takedown defense to be an issue against anyone but the best.
Morales is not expected to win here. “Vandetta” is filling in on short-notice, and his most high-profile fight to date is a Contender Series loss. On the bright side, the prospect with the 8-2 records has never seen the judges’ scorecards win or lose, so expect some early morning excitement.
Last time out, Yadong absolutely battered Arantes from pillar-to-post, shutting down the experienced veteran with absolute ease. Morales could always land something big or catch a limb, but he’s the massive underdog for a reason.
Prediction: Yadong via knockout
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 141 fight card this weekend, starting with the UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bouts at 3 a.m. ET, before the main card start time at 6:30 a.m. ET (also on UFC Fight Pass).