Report by: Eric Marcotte
The UFC held their first card at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzhen, China, early Saturday morning. The card was headlined by UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade, who aimed to make her first defense of the title against sixth-ranked contender Weili Zhang, who looked to become the first Chinese champion in UFC history in front of her home country. In the co-main event, Li Jingling and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos faced off, with both fighters in need of a statement win to propel them into matchups against the more renowned names of the talent stacked welterweight division. A scheduled bout between Zhenhong Lu and Movsar Evloev was scrapped after the weigh-ins due to a cut sustained by Lu.
Commentary for the card was provided by Brendan Fitzgerald alongside UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Weili Zhang and Li Jingliang. Fight of the Night bonuses went to Alatengheli and Danna Batgerel. The reported attendance for the event was 10,302.
*Karol Rosa def. Lara Procopio by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
*Alatengheli def. Danna Batgerel by unanimous decision (29-27 all)
*Damir Ismagulov def. Thiago Moises by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
*Da Un Jung def. Khadis Ibragimov by guillotine choke at 2:00 of Round 3
*Sumudaerji def. Andre Soukhamthath by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)
*Anthony Hernandez def. Jun Yong Park by anaconda choke at 4:39 of Round 2
*Mizuki def. Wu Yanan by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
*Kenan Song def. Derrick Krantz by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
*Kai Kara-France def. Mark De La Rosa by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
*Li Jingliang def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos by TKO at 4:51 of Round 3
*Weili Zhang def. Jessica Andrade by TKO at 0:42 of Round 1
LARA PROCOPIO (6-0, 135) VS KAROL ROSA (11-3, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Rosa found success with the jab and low kick to the lead leg of Procopio in the opening minute of the first. Rosa’s jab began to create an opening for the right hand which she used to land heavy shots on Procopio. There was not much footwork or headwork to speak of, with the fighters spending the majority of the round trading in the middle. Procopio found her range late in the round, mixing up her strikes and ending the round by pressing Rosa against the cage.
The second round was more of the same, with both fighters landing cleanly at a high rate. Procopio had caught up to Rosa in the low kick game, although Rosa’s looked to have had more effect. Procopio landed a clean 1-2 before pulling guard, which Rosa did not engage in.
Into the third, the fighters continued to swing wildly. Rosa threw a looping right hand that knocked Procopio down. She was hesitant to follow Procopio to the ground, which gave Procopio the room to recover. Rosa landed a trio of knees to the body of Procopio from inside the clinch. Rosa stuffed a pair of takedown attempts. The first two rounds were incredibly close, with the third round clearly going to Rosa. I scored this fight 29-28 Rosa.
WINNER: Karol Rosa by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
This was an entertaining fight to start off the card. Both Procopio and Rosa made their first appearances inside the UFC with this fight. Rosa has potential but was a very stationary target here.
ALATENGHEILI (12-7-1, 136) VS DANNA BATGEREL (6-1, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Batgerel utilized the left hook to keep Alatengheli at a distance early. Alatengheli landed a pair of solid right lead hooks. Batgerel rushed forward and landed an uppercut in his flurry. Alatengheli connected with that right lead hook once again that appeared to rock Batgerel but he recovered quickly. Batgerel ended the round as the aggressor.
In the second round Batgerel seemed to be the busier fighter. Alatengheli was loading up with the right hook that found him success in the first but did not land it enough to win the second. Batgerel starting mixing kicks in with his jab and left hook, and this round was likely scored in his favor.
Both fighters connected with clean hooks in the first half of the third, but their chins held up. Alatengheli shot for a single leg takedown, and Batgerel jumped up and landed a knee to the face of Alatengheli with his free leg, which was impressive, but ultimately got taken down and Alatengheli controlled the back half of the round with a trio of successful takedowns. This was another close fight, and I scored it 29-28 for Batgerel.
WINNER: Alatengheli by unanimous decision (29-27 all)
Another entertaining fight and another pair of fighters making their UFC debuts. I heavily disagreed with the 10-8 round given here, but all three judges presumably scored round 3 as such. Michael Bisping mistakenly referred to Alatengheli by his opponent’s name in the post-fight interview.
DAMIR ISMAGULOV (18-2, 155.5) VS THIAGO MOISES (12-3, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT
Ismagulov kept a high pace in the first round, throwing strikes in combination to the head, body and legs of Moises. Ismagulov dropped Moises with a short-left hook near the end of the round and threw some hard punches at the body of the downed Moises, who ultimately survived the sequence.
Moises started the second round more aggressively but had trouble finding openings to land clean. Ismagulov landed a leg kick that echoed throughout the arena. Moises shot for a quick and crafty takedown that Ismagulov somehow stuffed. Moises landed a nice left hand as Ismagulov changed levels. Ismagulov threw a spinning back kick to the body of Moises as time expired.
Ismagulov’s low kicks continued to find a home in the third. His lead kicks to the body were the biggest strikes of the round. This was a clear 30-27 for Ismagulov.
WINNER: Damir Ismagulov by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Ismagulov looked great here. He mixed up his striking well, showcased great cardio, and stopped all of Moises attempts to bring the fight to the ground. Ismagulov is now 3-0 in the UFC and is riding a 14-fight win streak.
DA UN JUNG (11-2, 206) VS KHADIS IBRAGIMOV (8-0, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT
Ibragimov started the fight with one of the wildest flurries of strikes I have ever seen. I lost count at thirty strikes. Jung survived this early onslaught and defended well against the majority of Ibragimov’s strikes. Jung’s jab kept Ibragimov at bay for a period of time, until Ibragimov cut loose with another flurry in which one of the looping punches staggered Ibragimov. Once again Jung survived the attack from Ibragimov and cut him open right on top of the left eyebrow. Ibragimov won this round, but one had to ponder how much he would have left in the tank for the later rounds.
Ibragimov looked very tired. Jung continued to fight behind his jab, but Ibragimov would let loose with his crazy looping combinations whenever Jung got too comfortable. Jung controlled the majority of the round with that jab, but with about a minute and a half to go in the round Ibragimov started to work for the takedown, and succeeded, but was unable to control Jung on the ground or hold him there for a significant portion of the time.
In the third round, Ibragimov took Jung’s back on the feet and dragged him to the ground, but Jung continued to find a way to his feet. Ibragimov looked for a takedown against the fence once more, but Jung seized this opportunity to grab Ibragimov’s neck and lock on a modified standing guillotine, which an exhausted Ibragimov quickly tapped out to.
WINNER: Da Un Jung by guillotine choke at 2:00 of Round 3
Ibragimov fought with one of the craziest styles I can recall. He threw long combinations of huge looping strikes, but it cost him in the stamina department when Jung survived. This was Jung’s first fight in the UFC and is now on an 11-fight win streak.
SUMUDAERJI (10-4, 136) VS ANDRE SOUKHAMTHATH (13-7, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Sumudaerji opened up with a pair of flashy kicks that got huge reactions from the crowd. Soukhamthath connected with a significant right hook. Sumudaerji defended an aggressive double leg takedown attempt. A straight left from Sumudaerji knocked Soukhamthath head back, a strike which he would land two more times before the end of the round.
Soukhamthath landed a beautiful straight right and shot for a takedown which Sumudaerji stuffed. The straight left continued to land for Sumudaerji. Sumudaerji doubled up on his jab that momentarily stunned Soukhamthath. Sumudaerji’s ability to gauge the distance and time his jab and straight lefts was very impressive here.
Down two rounds on the scorecard, Soukhamthath needed a finish here to win this fight. Soukhamthath threw a kick which Sumudaerji caught, and swept the other leg to bring the fight to the ground. He landed a trio of heavy elbows, before standing up and continuing to throw strikes at the grounded Soukhamthath. This was a beautiful performance from Sumudaerji, and the crowd loved every second of it. I scored the bout 30-26 in his favor.
WINNER: Sumudaerji by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)
Sumudaerji looked fantastic here. Pure domination from the beginning until the end. He is now 1-1 in the UFC. Soukhamthath told his corner that he broke his hand at the end of the first round.
JUN YONG PARK (10-3, 186) VS ANTHONY HERNANDEZ (6-1, 185) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
The fighters were both active with their striking early. Park eventually strung together a combination of hooks that hurt Hernandez, forcing him to shoot a takedown to alleviate the pressure. Soon thereafter Hernandez landed a three-punch combination and brought Park to the ground, but Park worked his way back up quickly. Hernandez started pressuring forward and landed a right hook towards the end of the round.
Park hurt Hernandez again early in the second, and once again Hernandez was able to survive by taking Park to the ground momentarily. Hernandez slammed Park to the ground, but Park worked his way back to the feet within ten seconds yet again. The third time Hernandez brought Park to the ground this round, he managed to take the back and started working to open up the rear-naked choke. He was not able to find the rear-naked choke but landed some significant strikes on the ground, and suavely transitioned to an anaconda choke that won him the fight.
WINNER: Anthony Hernandez by anaconda choke at 4:39 of Round 2
Hernandez overcame adversity here in both rounds, changed up his game plan and made the adjustments necessary to win the fight. He is now 1-1 in the UFC, with both his win and loss coming by the way of a second-round anaconda choke.
WU YANAN (10-2, 129) VS MIZUKI (13-5, 125) – FLYWEIGHT
Wu missed weight by three pounds and forfeited thirty percent of her fight purse.
Wu had a considerable size advantage here. The first round was uneventful. Wu may have landed the bigger strikes as few as they were, but Mizuki pressured forward and was the busier fighter.
To open up the second round, Wu landed a 1-2 followed by a low kick, before she momentarily searched for a standing guillotine. Wu landed an elbow as they broke from the clinch. Mizuki continued to be the aggressor and her jab was landing frequently this round. Her movement was impressive avoiding the brunt of the majority of Wu’s strikes.
Mizuki landed a hard elbow while she pressed Wu against the cage. This round mirrored the first two, with Mizuki pressing forward against Wu, who continued to try to land counter strikes as Mizuki worked her way in. They both let loose in the final minute, brawling to end the round. This was a difficult fight to score, but I thought Mizuki edged out the first and third rounds.
WINNER: Mizuki by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
I think Mizuki has potential in the 115 division but was clearly outsized by Wu here, and I can see her having issues with the physical strength of the top flyweights. This was her first fight in the UFC.
KENAN SONG (14-5, 170.5) VS DERRICK KRANTZ (24-11, 169) – WELTERWEIGHT
Both fighters were tentative to start. They exchanged low kicks. Song landed a few kicks to the body. Both Krantz and Song threw heavy punches but were not able to land clean often. Very difficult round to score.
Krantz was going to shoot in for a double leg and Song went for a guillotine. Krantz lifted Song up and brought him down to the ground, and moved into side control. Song powered through this and tried to take the back of Krantz, who moved out between the legs of Song and found himself back on top against the cage. He looked to have a tight guillotine in but was not able to get the finish here. Song looked for a triangle choke back on the ground, and Krantz managed to advance into top control once more as time expired. It could very well have been 19-19 going into the final round.
Song was very aggressive off the stool and backed Krantz against the cage with a number of vicious strikes. Krantz momentarily stopped the attack of Song by bringing him back to the ground, but Song got right back up and had Krantz hurt yet again, and yet again Krantz took Song down for a brief period of time before they stood back up, exhausted. Neither fighter had the energy to put their hands up or do much of anything else, with a minute remaining. I thought Song won the first and third rounds.
WINNER: Kenan Song by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
After a somewhat slow first round, the action picked up in the latter two rounds, with exciting grappling exchanges in the second, and a wild brawl in the third. Song is now 3-1 in the UFC.
KAI KARA-FRANCE (19-7, 126) VS MARK DE LA ROSA (11-2, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
After a quick feeling out process, Kara-France began to work his jab and De La Rosa found an opening to rush in and force him back to the cage. Kara-France reversed a takedown attempt from De La Rosa by picking him up and just throwing him down, landing some quick ground and pound before they reset on the feet. De La Rosa appeared to be slightly quicker when they would both step in and engage in brief striking exchanges. Kara-France stuffed a takedown attempt to end the round.
Kara-France dropped De La Rosa with a Junior Dos Santos style lunging right hand, but let him return to the feet. Kara-France swept the leg and put De La Rosa back on the ground before allowing him to stand up once more. They exchanged in the pocket quite a bit throughout the round, and De La Rosa cut Kara-France open below the left eye with a kick, but did not do enough to win the round back.
De La Rosa’s corner was comically loud in comparison to the quiet crowd. De La Rosa landed a flurry of strikes and Kara-France responded with a body kick. Kara-France landed a huge barrage of strikes to De La Rosa against the fence, including clean hooks and flying knees, and De La Rosa responded by taunting him to “bring it on”. Kara-France returned to the body kick. I scored this fight 29-28 Kara-France.
WINNER: Kai Kara-France by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
This was a very entertaining fight, which seems to have been the general trend for fights in the flyweight division this year. Both men looked excellent, but Kara-France won by mixing up his offense, using body shots and low kicks to open up strikes to the head. Kara-France is now on an 8-fight win streak and is 3-0 in the UFC.
ELIZEU ZALESKI DOS SANTOS (21-5, 170.5) VS LI JINGLIANG (16-5, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT
Dos Santos began switching stances constantly almost immediately. Li caught a low kick from dos Santos and brought him to the ground, but dos Santos immediately returned to his feet. Dos Santos landed a hard-left hand when they exchanged strikes in the pocket. Lots of feeling out in this round. Li landed a right hand as dos Santos moved backward. A small cut was opened up under the left eye of dos Santos. Li dropped dos Santos with a huge straight right hand and landed a knee as dos Santos got up, yet dos Santos recovered and pressed Li against the cage to end the round. Clear 10-9 round for Li.
Li landed another clean right hand, and it seemed as though dos Santos could not find the range for his offense. Dos Santos landed some solid low kicks, but Li evaded the vast majority of the offense of dos Santos. Dos Santos landed a ducking right hand. Li connected with a pair of short right hands in the pocket, and they exchanged big strikes to end the round. I had it 20-18 Li going into round 3.
The majority of the third round was tense but uneventful. Dos Santos just did not have an answer to Li’s footwork and could never find his range. As dos Santos let loose with about thirty seconds left, Li landed a right uppercut that rocked dos Santos badly, and Li swarmed him with uppercuts and a right hook that knocked him down and referee John Sharpe stopped the fight.
WINNER: Li Jingliang by TKO at 4:51 of Round 3
Going into this fight I was very high on dos Santos, and I was extremely impressed by how easily Li handled him here. His boxing and footwork were slick here, avoiding almost all of dos Santos significant strikes while carefully timing his own. He is now 9-3 in the UFC, and will likely be a ranked fighter after this performance.
JESSICA ANDRADE (20-6, 114.5) VS WEILI ZHANG (19-1, 115) – UFC STRAWWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Since moving down to strawweight, Andrade compiled a record of 7-1, and in her last fight dethroned Rose Namajunas with a brutal slam knockout to win the strawweight championship. After losing her first professional bout, Zhang went on to win her next nineteen fights, and after defeating Tecia Torres in March, Zhang found herself in line for championship opportunity on this card in her home country.
Almost immediately Andrade turned on the pressure and they started brawling. As Andrade pressured forward throwing wild strikes, Zhang hurt Andrade with a right hook moving backward. Zhang immediately picked up on this and relentlessly went on the attack, viciously feeding Andrade a series of knees and elbows in the clinch. Andrade stumbled back against the cage and Zhang rushed forward with strikes that quickly dropped Andrade and landed a pair of strikes to the grounded Andrade that ended the fight. The crowd lost their minds.
WINNER: Weili Zhang by TKO at 0:42 of Round 1 to win the UFC Strawweight Championship
Wow. People may criticize Andrade for fighting so recklessly, but that is typically her style. Zhang tagged her moving backward and she did not let this moment go to waste, viciously going on the attack and finishing the fight just as she said she would. Zhang is now on a twenty-fight win streak and is the first Chinese fighter to hold UFC gold. This could very well be the defining moment for the MMA scene in China.