UFC Shenzhen preview
The UFC starts its international tour with a stop at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. The main event takes place in the women’s strawweight division where Jessica Andrade will defend her UFC Strawweight championship against Weili Zhang.
Jessica Andrade won the UFC Strawweight championship by defeating Rose Namajunas at UFC 237. She comes into her fight against Zhang riding a four-fight win streak. The twenty-seven-year-old has fourteen finishes in twenty career victories. The Brazilain born fighter will make the walk for the twenty-seventh time on Saturday.
Weili Zhang lost her first professional fight to Meng Bo back 2013. Since then she has rattled off nineteen consecutive victories. Her most recent win occurred at UFC 235 where she defeated Tecia Torres via unanimous decision. Sixteen of the Chinese born fighter’s wins ended inside the distance. The thirty-year-old makes the walk for the twenty-first time when she challenges Andrade for the title on Saturday.
The co-main takes place in the welterweight division where Elizeu dos Santos takes on Jingliang Li. Elizeu Dos Santos will be looking for his eighth straight win on Saturday. His most recent win was at UFC Fight Night 146 where he subbed Curtis Millender in the first round. Of the Brazilian’s twenty-one career victories, fourteen are via (T)KO and three are by submission. This will be the thirty-two-year old’s twenty-seventh professional fight.
Hometown hero Jingliang Li enters the fight the winner of his previous two. Li finished David Zawada most recently at UFC Fight Night 141. Eleven of the thirty-one-year old’s victories ended inside the distance. He’ll make the walk for the twenty-second time on Saturday.
Also, on the main card Kai Kara France takes on Mark De La Rosa, Zhenhong Lu faces off against Movsar Evloev and Yanan Wu vs. Mizuki Inoue.
UFC Shenzhen Broadcast Information
The prelims will stream on ESPN+ beginning at 2:00 AM (CST) with the main card starting at 5:00 AM (CST) also on ESPN+.
Note: The predictions in this column do not necessarily mean that I will be betting them. I have changed my mind in the past and gone the other way after conducting more research. For all my official UFC Shenzhen bets follow me on Twitter @MichaelGrocke.
Jessica Andrade (20-6) vs. Weili Zhang (19-1) – Strawweight 115 lbs.
Current Odds: Andrade -185; Zhang +155
Pick: Andrade by decision.
While Zhang will be the bigger and taller fighter, it’s nothing Andrade hasn’t dealt with before. The difference here is, Zhang is just as strong and powerful as Jessica. If you look at their resumes, Andrade has faced the best of the best in the division. Looking at the two fighters, Andrade is better everywhere with more paths to victory. I like Weili Zhang, but I think this is too big a step-up in level of competition and I don’t see a clear path to victory for her.
Jingliang Li (16-5) vs. Elizeu dos Santos (21-5) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: dos Santos -290; Li +230
Pick: dos Santos by submission.
This should be an exciting fight. Both fighters like to push the pace. dos Santos is the quicker fighter with better striking and a far superior ground game. Li likes to stand and trade, so dos Santos must fight smartly and not get goaded into a fire fight. I think dos Santos is better on the feet, but Li can end it with one punch. I’d like to see dos Santos take Li to the ground and if he does the fight is his.
Kai Kara France (19-7, 1 NC) vs. Mark De La Rosa (11-2) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: France -220; De La Rosa +180
Pick: France by (T)KO.
France is the better striker and will be the quicker fighter. De La Rosa is not a technically sound striker, but he is a very good counter-striker. He is a better ground fighter, so I expect him to try to get the fight there as quickly as possible. De La Rosa is also dropping down a weight class which always concerns me. His chin and cardio could abandon him. I like France’s athleticism, but De La Rosa is dangerous should he get the fight to the ground. Ultimately, I’m going to back the more athletic fighter and hope France can keep the fight standing.
Movsar Evloev (11-0) vs. Zhenhong Lu (16-6) – Featherweight 145 lbs.
Current Odds: Evloev -870; Lu +545
Pick: Evloev by (T)KO.
Lu steps in on short notice for the injured Mike Grundy to face Evloev for the second time. The first fight went to Evloev via unanimous decision. This time around I don’t see it going to the judge’s scorecards.
Yanan Wu (10-2) vs. Mizuki Inoue (13-5) – Flyweight 125 lbs.
Current Odds: Inoue -150; Wu +120
Pick: Inoue by decision.
This should be a competitive fight and one I don’t have a good feel for. Inoue is moving up in weight which I think will suit her well. The money has been coming in on Inoue. I think this is going to be a close fight, possibly a split decision. Wu might benefit from being the “hometown” fighter. An easy pass for me.
WATCH: UFC Shenzhen weigh-in
Kenan Song (14-4) vs. Derrick Krantz (23-11) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Song -115; Krantz -115
Pick: Song by (T)KO.
This should be an excellent fight. Both fighters have knockout power. Krantz likes to march forward and walk his opponents down. I expect this fight to be primarily fought on the feet which I think favors Song. However, Krantz is a tough son of a bitch and the money has been coming in on him since the opening.
Anthony Hernandez (7-1) vs. Jun Yong Park (9-3) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Hernandez -155; Park +125
Pick: Hernandez by decision.
Park has solid striking with some power, but he’s hittable. Hernandez being the better technical striker should be able to piece Park up. Not to mention, this is a big step-up in competition for Park.
Su Mudaerji (9-3) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (13-7) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Soukhamthath -170; Mudaerji +140
Pick: Soukhamthath by (T)KO.
I’m not high on Soukhamthath, but I think he gets the job done here. Mudaerji works well at range and that’s where he’ll want to keep the fight. If Soukhamthath has success getting inside, then it will be a long night for Mudaerji. Soukhamthath also has a big advantage on the ground.
Da Un Jung (10-2) vs. Khadis Ibragimov (8-0) – Light Heavyweight 205 lbs.
Current Odds: Ibragimov -265; Jung +205
Pick: Ibragimov by (T)KO.
The Russian is the big favorite and rightfully so. However, don’t count Jung out. He has big power, and anything can happen. Under the posted round total and ITD might be worth a look here.
Damir Ismagulov (18-2) vs. Thiago Moises (12-3) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Ismagulov -190; Moises +155
Pick: Ismagulov by decision.
Ismagulov is a decent striker, but he lacks knockout power. Moises on the other hand can sleep anyone. While Moises is decent on the ground, he’s no match for the wrestling and cardio of Ismagulov. I think Ismagulov cruises to a decisive victory via unanimous decision.
Heili Alateng (12-7-1) vs. Danaa Batgerel (6-1) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Alateng -135; Batgerel +105
Pick: Batgerel by decision with little confidence.
I expect this fight to be a banger. If it is, I favor Batgerel. I think he has a bit more power with the better chin. I don’t see this one going the distance.
Karol Rosa (11-3) vs. Lara Procopio (6-0) – Bantamweight 135 lbs.
Current Odds: Rosa -115; Procopio -115
Pick: Procopio by decision with little confidence.
Enjoy the fights!
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