Jessica Andrade vs Weili Zhang: UFC Shenzhen Pick

The fights this weekend starts at roughly 3 AM because of the fight location. If you aren’t hardcore enough to wake up that early to watch and actually stay awake you might catch the main event around 6 AM. I can’t think of a much better way to start a Saturday morning that this fight.

There was a time in MMA when women were considered less than entertaining and that they didn’t even belong. There was also a time when men’s 155ers were looked down on for not being able to knock each other out. Look how far we have come.

Bright and early Saturday morning we will watch the 115-pound champion who in her last fight won by lifting her opponent and current champion above her and slamming her to the mat so hard we honestly thought her neck was broken to take the title.

Jessica Andrade:

  • 27 years old
  • 62-inch reach
  • 6.55 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
  • 5.13 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
  • 3.20 Average Takedowns Landed Per 15 minutes
  • 58% Takedown Accuracy
  • 76% Takedown Defense
  • Record: 20 – 6
  • Won 7 of her last 8
  • 70% Finish Rate

Jessica Andrade has been in the UFC seemingly forever. She first fought Liz Carmouche back in 2013 and like most fighters first entering the UFC the bright lights were too much for her and she lost.

Since then Andrade has grown into the monster we see today standing on top of the mountain with the belt as her prizing daring anybody on the planet to challenge her.

She had her ups and downs throughout her career and seemed like every time she was about to reach the pinnacle she would face adversity and choke at the worst time.

But she has finally put it all together and after losing the first round in her title fight against Rose Namajunas she dug deep and unleashed the most brutal KO women’s MMA has seen since Gina Carano lost to Cyborg.

Namajunas was the unquestioned queen of strawweight after defeating the most dominant champion the division has ever had not once but twice. It seemed like Rose was invincible and would reign for a long time, but Andrade unceremoniously took the title from her by sheer brute force.

The best way I can describe Andrade is that she is a tank. She is constantly shorter than her opponents but she is able to outmaneuver them and use her explosive athleticism and strength to make up any physical height or reach disadvantage she seems to be at.

Andrade is extremely well rounded and can finish from anywhere the fight takes place. Of the champion’s 20 wins she has 7 KOs and 7 submissions with only 6 decisions combining for an astounding 70% finish rate.

Her offensive output is unmatched at 6.55 significant strikes landed per minute and she throws harder than any other woman at 115, so those significant strikes are landing harder and more often than anybody in the division.

She even outpaces the former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk who lands an impressive 6.07 significant strikes per minute.

Andrade may be willing to take a punch to land a punch, but she has yet to face a woman who can match her power so that trade is always worth it. Not only that she is absorbing fewer strikes than she is landing by 1.42 per minute which adds up to her massively outpacing her opponents until they wilt.

The Champion also has a very high 3.22 takedowns averaged per 15 minutes which means she is getting her opponents to the ground more than once per round. Once she gets there she has hellish ground and pound and saps their energy by weighing on them and forcing them to work if they want to get back to their feet.

More than all this, Andrade has these stats over the absolute elite of the division. There is no fighter at 115 who has a better resume than Andrade. She is putting up absolutely elite numbers against the best fighters the world has to offer.

Andrade is the complete package and she is only 27 years old, which means she is in her prime and nowhere near slowing down and that is a terrifying prospect for the division she currently stands head and shoulders above.

Weili Zhang Stats:

  • 30 years old
  • 62 inch reach
  • 5.49 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
  • 2.17 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
  • 1.78 Average Takedowns Landed Per 15 minutes
  • 30% Takedown Accuracy
  • 100% Takedown Defense
  • Record: 19-1
  • 19 fight win streak
  • 84% Finish Rate

After all that talk about Andrade, we have a challenger that the UFC is literally pushing in Weili Zhang. The UFC knows they have a star on their hands and have been itching to jump in the deep end of the Chinese MMA market but just haven’t had that starfighter who could make it happen.

The UK had Bisping, Brazil had Anderson Silva, Ireland had Conor McGregor and now China has Weili Zhang.

Zhang turned heads with her insane run of 16-1 before getting her UFC debut and once she got under the bright lights she never slowed down. The UFC set her up with Danielle Taylor who is a tough test for your first fight, but Zhang towered over her foe and battled her way to a convincing unanimous decision.

The UFC then stepped her up the ladder first with Jessica Aguilar and then Tecia Torres, and Zhang made short work of Aguilar and won another decision with a grinding affair with Tecia. While her level of competition in no way compares to Andrade’s she has passed each test the UFC has given her and with flying colors.

Zhang is a dynamic striker who isn’t afraid to throw spinning kicks and show her athleticism off. She will have a slight 2-inch height advantage and a 1-inch reach advantage in this fight.

She has an underhead of 100% takedown defense and this number is leading most people to think she will force Andrade to strike with her where she will be able to outstrike the champion over the course of 25 minutes. But this number is from such a tiny sample size I believe it to be misleading.

In her 3-fight UFC career, Zhang has only faced 5 takedown attempts, 3 of which came from Jessica Aguilar who was severely outmatched. Both Torres and Taylor attempted 1 each and their takedown prowess is nothing to write home about.

Taylor attempts 0.20 takedowns per 15 minutes with a 20% accuracy and Torres attempts 0.67 takedowns per 15 minutes with an abysmal 14% success rate. If you think that any of these 3 women can compare to the fury that Jessica Andrade is capable of unleashing you are in for a surprise.

The best example I can think of for this fight is way back at UFC 111 when Dan Hardy was thrown into a title fight with George St Pierre. Dan had been impressive in the UFC until this point but he was nowhere near ready to take on the 170 lbs GOAT.

The UFC was trying to branch out to the UK and bring them their first championship since Bisbing hadn’t made his way to the title yet and Hardy was completely out of place and nowhere near ready for GSP.

I do believe that Zhang is a future title challenger and potentially titleholder, but this isn’t the time. Right now is the Reign of Andrade. Zhang has never been hit as hard as she will be hit by Andrade.

Andrade is capable of picking up men who weight far more than her and slam them to the mat with ease, so Zhang’s 100% takedown defense will be a thing of the past come Saturday.

And even if you believe that Zhang is the more technical striker, while that MIGHT be true, so was Rose and we saw how she got carted off to the hospital after being locked in a cage with Jessica Andrade.

Long live the queen.

Pick: Jessica Andrade at -163 with Pinnacle