Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is gearing up for its latest event this Sat. (Aug. 31, 2019) from inside Universiade Sports Centre. The ESPN+-streamed event will feature a five-round women’s strawweight title fight as champion, Jessica Andrade, faces off against top contender and hometown hero, Weili Zhang. In the co-main event, Li Jingliang and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos will collide in welterweight action.
There’s not much to get excited about for this event. But the headlining bout should be interesting, as Jessica Andrade is eyeing her first-ever title defense after winning the belt earlier this year. Indeed, “Bate Estaca” was losing the fight to Rose Namajunas at UFC 237, getting clipped at will by the far superior striker. But in the blink of an eye, Jessica managed to take “Thug Rose” for a ride, slamming her on her head and putting her out for the count (see it). With four-straight wins under her belt, Andrade is truly enjoying the best run of her MMA career.
Zhang, however, is looking to put an end to it, and she has the skills to pull it off, as well. Winner of 18-straight fights, three inside of the Octagon, Weili has been terrorizing her opponents for the last five years. Her run was good enough to earn her a title fight just seven months into her UFC tenure. Despite getting to the big dance quick, it’s not like UFC is pushing her too fast, as Zhang is as experienced as they come, and the bright lights don’t scare her one bit.
Zhang now looks to make history by becoming the first-ever Chinese champion in UFC history. The fact that UFC had this fight on the docket pretty much ensured that Zhang was going to get the title fight with a win over Tecia Torres. Now, it’s up to “Magnum” to get it down and make her country proud as she looks to add to her ever-impressive run, all while etching herself in the history books.
Let’s be honest, the rest of the card isn’t anything to get overly-excited about. With the card filled with several newcomers and a start time of 3 a.m, I don’t foresee a lot of viewers stateside tuning in live to catch all of the action. But, this event is geared toward the Chinese UFC audience the promotion wants to latch on to, so it should be big numbers there given the time and main event.
Original Card vs Actual Card:
Saparbek Safarov and Da Un Jung were scheduled for a light heavyweight showdown at the event, but Safarov was forced out for undisclosed reasons and replaced by Jamahal Hill. Later, Hill was also forced out due to visa issues and replaced by Khadis Ibragimov.
Zhenhong Lu stepped in to replace Mike Grundy in a Featherweight fight against Movsar Evloev. However, Lu suffered an unfortunate cut just days away from fight night and was forced out of the card.
This card has eight fighters making their Octagon debut, starting with Mizuke Inoue. Fighting out of Serra-Longo in Long Island, New York, Mizuke is no stranger to fighting UFC-caliber competition. Taking the fight on super short notice, though, may not be ideal. Still, she has a big chance to make a splash on her promotional debut against Wu Yanan.
Middleweight Jun Yong Park will bring his six-fight win streak with him to the Octagon to face Anthony Hernandez, while Daun Jung takes on Khadis Ibragimov, his third scheduled opponent for the event. It’s going to be two big men swinging heavy leather, so I don’t foresee this going the distance.
Khadis is also a newcomer looking to add to his 8-0 record. The man can crack, and hard. He left M-1 as its champion, so the slugger looks to make an immediate impact on the 205-pound division.
Danaa Batgerel -- who holds a win over Kai Kara-France — looks to add some excitement to the Bantamweight division, as the 6-1 combatant looks for a statement win against Heili Alateng, who has a strong right hand that can put your lights out.
To get a more details look at those aforementioned fighters, as well as the rest of he newcomers such as Heile Alateng, Lara Procopio and Karol Rosa , click here to read Patrick L. Stumberg’s “New Blood” piece.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
You aren’t going to know a lot of the undercard fighters as it is made of several newcomers who are looking to make a splash. One of the more well-known combatants fighting on the “Prelims” is Andre Soukhamthath, who is looking for his first back-to-back win streak inside the Octagon when he faces Mudaerji Su.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
Let’s stick with Andre Soukhamthath for a moment. The man has not been able to pick up any momentum whatsoever since making his UFC debut back in March of 2017. Coming into the Octagon on a three-fight win streak, Andre started off his UFC career 0-2, losing to Albert Morales and Alejandro Perez. He then picked up a much-needed win against Luke Sanders, only to lose to Sean O’ Malley in his next outing. After defeating Jonathan Martinez, he lost to Montel Jackson, bringing him to his fight against Mudaerji Su. If he loses here, I don’t think he will be able to hold on to his spot on the UFC roster that seems to be growing by the day, especially with all of the new “contenders” coming in.
Interest Level: 4/10
If I’m being brutally honest, I’m just not digging this event, at all. There are some semi-interesting bouts on it, but even the championship headliner is borderline iffy for me, as I fully expected Tatiana Suarez or even Michelle Waterson to get the next title fight. But it’s easy to see why UFC picked Zhang for a hometown spot.
Aside from that fight, the co-main event between Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Li Jingliang should be good. Dos Santos is vastly underrated despite winning seven straight, seven of eight overall so far in his UFC career. Jingliang, meanwhile, has won six of his last seven UFC fights and is ready to break out. This Welterweight collision is a nice compliment to the headlining bout.
Then we have Kai Kara-France, a surging Flyweight who has won seven straight fights (2-0 UFC), taking on Mark De La Rosa, who is coming off a tough loss. The matchup doesn’t make much sense considering De La Rosa is 2-2 in UFC competition, but the promotion likely wants France to prove himself one more time before landing a more established name.
At the end of the day, while this card may feature a ton of unfamiliar faces, it could very well deliver as we’ve seen with past with events that were far from stacked. That said, the start time, I’m sure, is a turn off for many.
Full Fight Card:
UFC Fight Night 157 Main Event:
115 lbs.: UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Jessica Andrade vs. Weili Zhang
UFC Fight Night 157 Main Card on ESPN+ (6 a.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Li Jingliang vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
125 lbs.: Mark De La Rosa vs. Kai Kara-France
145 lbs.: Movsar Evloev vs. Zhenhong Lu— Scratched (full details here)
170 lbs.: Song Kenan vs. Derrick Krantz
115 lbs.: Mizuki Inoue vs. Wu Yanan
UFC Fight Night 157 ‘Prelims’ on ESPN (3 a.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Anthony Hernandez vs. Jun Yong Park
135 lbs.: Andre Soukhamthath vs. Su Mudaerji
205 lbs.: Da Un Jung vs. Khadis Ibragimov
155 lbs.: Damir Ismagulov vs. Thiago Moises
135 lbs.: Heili Alateng vs. Danaa Batgerel
135 lbs.: Lara Procopio vs. Karol Rosa
*Fight card, bout order and the amount of matches subject to change.
For more upcoming UFC events click here.