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Zhang Weili vs. Jessica Andrade

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On Saturday, August 31st, 2019, professional MMA (mixed martial arts) and Chinese Sanshou/Sanda fighter Zhang Weili is set to challenge Jessica Andrade for the Women’s Strawweight belt in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).  This comes as a surprising opportunity for Zhang and after having only three fights in the UFC, despite having an active MMA career and nineteen-win streak.  Fighting out of Hebei province, China, Zhang has been given China’s first shot, and thus China’s first and best chance at a UFC championship title and belt.  The title shot comes with a lot of implications that expectations that fall onto the Chinese fighter’s shoulders.

The fight will take place at Shenzhen Universade Sports Centre Arena in Shenzhen city, Guangdong province, China.  The fact that this event will be held in China boasts a potential hometown advantage and sets up an atmosphere of simultaneous national pride and pressure for the Chinese fighter to represent.  This also marks the sixth time UFC will host its events on Chinese soil, having previously done so thrice in Macau where former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and Sanshou fighter Cung Le fought, as well as where the The Ultimate Fighter: China Finale: Kim vs. Hathaway was hosted, and twice in the mainland, where fellow Chinese Sanda fighter Li Jingliang scored a glorious knockout victory against Zak Ottow in Shanghai, and in Beijing where both Li and Zhang tasted more victories to add to their respective MMA careers.  Zhang herself carries a record of 20-1, with only one loss being her first MMA fight to Meng Bo by armbar submission in 2013.  In other news, Li Jingliang will also fight against Elizeu Zaleski do Santos and fellow female Sanda fighter Wu Yanan will also fight Mizuke Inoue as part of the main card.  Zhang herself boasts strong striking skills, having aggressive punches mixed with fluid kicks, but also has various victories by submission, showcasing her versatility needed to succeed in MMA.  As such, she has shown herself to be a well-rounded MMA fighter with the ferocity to win.

Her opponent, Jessica Andrade, snagged the title from Rose Namajunas, whose coach Pat Barry was also a Sanda athlete and silver medalist at the 7th World Wushu Championships at Macau, China in 2003, with a knockout by way of takedown to slam.  Jessica herself has garnered numerous TKO victories via aggressive punching, as well as many submission victories by way of chokes, proving herself to be a well-rounded MMA fighter as well.  Will Zhang be crowned the first Chinese UFC Champion?  Or will Jessica stop the rising success of the Chinese Sanda fighter?  Tune into ESPN+ on Saturday and find out!

Matt began practicing Wushu at the age of 7 under US Wushu Academy, and is a coach of the UMBC Wushu Club. He has held positions in national, international, and local modern Wushu competitions, and is currently training in Sanshou/Sanda, traditional Chen Style Taijiquan and zhanzhuang. He is a former four-time consecutive US Wushu Team member, former Pan American Champion and multiple times Pan American Championships medalist, and is continually trying to improve himself both as a competitive athlete and as a real martial artist. If you have any questions you would like to ask Matt, please email him at matthewlee@jiayoowushu.com.