Zhang Weili will look to become the first Chinese fighter to win a UFC title when she takes on women’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade in the main event of UFC Fight Night 157 in Shenzhen, China.
The card, which features a number of Chinese competitors beyond Zhang, will air early Saturday morning in the United States due to the time zone difference.
Zhang Prepared for Championship Opportunity
Zhang (19-1) may not jump off the page as the obvious choice to challenge for Andrade’s title. But the 30-year-old hadn’t come out of nowhere: she’s ranked as the No. 6 contender in the strawweight division, and hasn’t lost a bout since losing a decision in her debut as a pro in 2013. Since joining the UFC last year, she has reeled off three straight wins against Danielle Taylor, Jessica Aguilar, and Tecia Torres.
That has established Zhang as a worthy challenger. And while Andrade is an intimidating opponent, Zhang says that she has the tools to bring the belt back to China.
“I’m confident for this fight. It’s easy for me to deal with Jessica’s strong suits,” Zhang told Combate. “I’m well prepared for any situation that can occur in this fight, including her power slam. I saw what Rose [Namajunas] brought against Jessica in their last fight and I know what not to do. I’ll try not to repeat the same mistakes and walk out victorious.”
Andrade Wants to Back Up Title Win
Andrade (20-6) is still fresh off winning the title over Namajunas in May, finishing the fight with the rare knockout by slam. Now, the goal is to back up that victory with a string of title defenses that will prove she is the class of the strawweight division.
“It would mean a lot to me, to show how capable I am and that I really am the best in the world,” Andrade told BJPenn.com. “Hopefully one of my many title defenses.”
Andrade comes into the fight as a solid favorite, with FanDuel Sportsbook listing her at -190 against Zhang (+156). Andrade is one of the most physically imposing strawweights in the world, with power and size that can play well even a division or two up. That will create the biggest problems for Zhang, who likes to attack, especially with kicks, as it is hard to see her having much success in a brawl with the champion.
UFC Fight Night 157 Odds (Via FanDuel)
- Women’s Strawweight Championship: Jessica Andrade (-190) vs. Weili Zhang (+156)
- Welterweights: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (-310) vs. Li Jingliang (+240)
- Flyweights: Kai Kara-France (-235) vs. Mark De La Rosa (+188)
- Featherweights: Lu Zhenhong (+410) vs. Movsar Evloev (-600)
- Women’s Flyweights: Wu Yanan (+122) vs. Mizuki Inoue (-148)
That’s enough to make Andrade the likely winner, but the truth is that Zhang won’t have to go too far beyond what she has shown already to be able to contend with – and even defeat – the Brazilian. The smart money is still on Andrade, but it’s far from a lock.
The UFC Fight Night 157 co-main event also features one of the best Chinese talents in the UFC, as welterweight Li Jingliang (16-5) takes on No. 14 contender Elizeu dos Santos (21-5). Li has won six of his last seven fights, but comes in as a +240 underdog against dos Santos (-310) in what promises to be an all-out brawl between two action fighters.