On Saturday at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre Arena in Shenzhen, China, the strawweight championship will be on the line as Brazilian powerhouse Jessica Andrade takes on China’s own Weili Zhang.
This is arguably one of the year’s most anticipated title fights. Andrade will be attempting to make the first defense of the straweight belt that she laid claim to at UFC 237 in Rio with an emphatic KO slam.
Like then-champion Rose Namajunas did for her, Andrade will be defending the title on the home turf of her opponent– Weili Zhang.
On Saturday, Zhang will make history by becoming the first Chinese fighter to compete for a UFC championship. If she wins, she will be the first-ever Chinese UFC champion– a huge deal as the UFC is expanding into Asia.
Before the action gets underway, members of the WMMA Rankings panel weighed in on who they think will walk of Shenzhen with the strawweight gold wrapped around her waist.
TERENCE: Zhang hasn’t lost since her first pro fight in 2013. Upsets are always possible, and Zhang will be the crowd favorite, but Andrade is too tough anywhere the fights goes. In particular, she hits very, very hard. Jessica Andrade by 2nd round KO/TKO.
PICK – JESSICA ANDRADE
CRIS: Jessica Andrade’s stregnth and wrestling may be the difference. WIth that being said, I think ZHang will keep the distance and control the pace with kicks. I have her winning via unanimous decision. I know Andrade has great takedowns, but I think Zhang’s defense is enough to sprawl attempts.
PICK – WEILI ZHANG
NICK: Wow, this is going to be a good one and I am super excited! I truly can see this one going either way and I think the first round is going to tell us a lot. We already know what Andrade is going to do– charge forward ruthlessly throw winging hooks and look for power takedowns. Can Zhang use her movement and range striking to avoid this? Sure. But the question is if she can do it for all five rounds. I’m going to say she can– I think there is a good chance history is made this weekend.
PICK – WEILI ZHANG
And New or And Still?