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UFC Fight Night 132 card: Li Jingliang vs Daichi Abe full fight preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight scrappers Li Jingliang and Daichi Abe will throw down this Saturday (June 23, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 132 inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.

China’s most successful fighter, Jingliang battered four straight opponents from 2016-2017 and seemed poised to crack the rankings. A loss earlier this year to Australian prospect Jake Matthews disrupted his rise, but at least Jingliang earned a “Fight of the Night” bonus in defeat. Standing opposite him will be Japan’s power-punching prospect, Abe. Abe is just two fights into his UFC career, but showed solid potential in both, in addition to a willingness to slug it out if need be.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Li Jingliang
Record: 14-5
Key Wins: Zak Ottow (UFC Fight Night 122), Dhiego Lima (UFC Fight Night 66), Bobby Nash (UFC on FOX 23), Frank Camacho (UFC Fight Night 111)
Key Losses: Jake Matthews (UFC 221), Keita Nakamura (UFC Fight Night 75), Nordine Taleb (UFC Fight Night 54)
Keys to Victory: Jingliang is a physical fighter in every way. He’s not the finest technician in any one area, but Jingliang will walk straight to his foe throwing heat and driving into power takedowns.

Early in the fight, his opponent is primed to capitalize on Jingliang. Abe has that type of Karate/counter style that tends to do big damage on face-first sluggers like “The Leech.” Luckily, Abe also slows down over time, whereas Jingliang pushes a wild pace and is not deterred in the least by getting punched in the face. That on its own is likely enough to turn the tide before long, but Jingliang could save himself a few brain cells by choosing to wrestle early in the fight.

Having the deeper gas tank is a huge advantage. Even if all of Jingliang’s takedown attempts are stuffed, it will still burn much of Abe’s energy. From that point forward, Abe will be more hesitant to throw punches — being tired makes waiting for that perfect punch much more desirable — and Jingliang will have a better chance of winning exchanges of any kind.

Daichi Abe
Record: 6-1
Key Wins: Hyun Gyu Lim (UFC Fight Night 117)
Key Losses: Luke Jumeau (UFC 221)
Keys to Victory: Despite his background in Judo, Jingliang does most of his work on the feet. Maintaining a wide stance, Abe surprises foes by pulling his head back to avoid their shots and answering before their hands have a chance to return to the jawline.

In Abe’s debut, he faced Hyun Gyu Lim, an extra large Welterweight known for sloppy power punching and reckless aggression. Abe found a ton of success smashing Lim’s face on the way in, and though his conditioning was tested, Abe was able to pull through late and win the decision.

This is a similar match up. Jingliang may be a better wrestler than Lim, but Abe has thus far shown solid takedown defense, meaning it will likely be a kickboxing match. Once more, Abe will enjoy the technical advantage, but the question will be whether or not he can manage his pace well enough to win at least two rounds.

With that in mind, footwork will be very important for Abe. It’s great if he can counter Jingliang at will, but choosing to exchange every time will fatigue the Japanese athlete. It’s very important that Abe picks and chooses when to trade, as it will determine whether Jingliang can drag him into a brawl.

Bottom Line: It’s not a terribly important fight, but it should be fun.

Jingliang is one of the very few representatives of Chinese mixed martial arts (MMA) inside the Octagon, and he’s without a doubt the most successful. Now that it seems that the Top 15 is likely out of his reach, “The Leech” is not so much a major prospect to watch, but he’s a valuable member of UFC’s roster nonetheless. His position is safe win or lose, and it will take multiple victories to raise Jingliang out of his current spot in the middle.

As for Abe, this is a much bigger opportunity for him. He’s just two undercard fights into his UFC career — this is a larger platform opposite a more known opponent. A win over Jingliang would be the biggest of his career, one that establishes some job security and earns Abe a step up in competition. Alternatively, defeat sends the knockout artist back to the aforementioned undercard.

At UFC Fight Night 132, Li Jingliang and Daichi Abe will square off. Which athlete will see his hand raised?

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