It’s only been about a week since UFC 241 and already MMA fans are feeling itchy. There was a fantastic Bellator card over the weekend, but the UFC has been giving us so much great content in 2019 that a weekend without a night of fights just seems wrong.
We locked up some cash at Bellator 225 when Sergei took out Matt Mitrione, but we need our UFC action back. Luckily this weekend the UFC is headed to Shenzhen China where they are attempting to break into a previously untapped Asian market.
There have never been as many potential Chinese stars in the UFC as there are right this moment and the UFC is striking while the iron is hot. In the main event, Weili Zhang will be the first-ever Chinese fighter to challenge for a UFC title.
We will break down the main event a little later this week, but Jessica Andrade is coming into enemy territory and has a tall order. For her first-ever title defense, Andrade will attempt to stay the champion against potentially the best fighter ever to come from China.
The co-main event features Li “The Leech’ Jingliang who is a fan favorite with a brawling fan-friendly style against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (-300) who is one of the fastest rising stars in the welterweight division. Zaleski is riding a 7 fight win streak and his only UFC loss was his debut by split decision.
This fight is a heavy favorite to be the fight of the night as both men are comfortable going to war no matter where the fight takes place and both men are known for their ability to finish. China’s Jinliang is a +230 underdog in a fight where he will have a massive hometown advantage and that can definitely play on the judges’ scorecards.
As much as I like Jing Liliang I think that Zaleski is a valid parlay piece in this fight. All Dos Santos needs to do is avoid a brawl and he should be the more technical fighter in all areas.
Undefeated Featherweight Mosvar Evloev was slated to face fellow rising star Mike Grundy in a battle that was sure to be a barn burner. Unfortunately for us, Grundy had to withdraw from the fight due to an injury and the UFC was left scrambling to find a replacement to face Evloev.
Local talent Zhenhong Lu has stepped up on short notice to make his UFC debut and he is being thrown to the wolves. Evloev is currently a -600 favorite and while Lu is not a bad fighter this is NOT how you want to make your debut in the big show.
Evloev is a future top 10 fighter and potential title challenger. He is a well-rounded fighter with a solid gas tank, good fight IQ, and he is a finisher. Lu is 16-6 and his level of competition cannot come close to that of Evloev and it will be all he can do to survive this fight.
Hopefully, the UFC gives him a better fight in his next outing because he is doing them a solid by being a sacrificial lamb in front of his home crowd.
The first fight on the main event will feature Japan vs China when China’s Yanan Wu (10-2) faces Mizuki Inoue (13-5). Both women are hot prospects and have bright futures in MMA. Inoue is 25 and she will have the experience edge against the 23-year-old Wu.
Wu stepped into the UFC and was rudely greeted by an unrelenting Gina Mazany where she was roughed up by the Xtreme Couture fighter for a full 3 rounds. Wu bounced back strongly a year later with a first-round submission of Lauren Mueller and is looking to build on that momentum.
Inoue has the skill set to make her work similarly to Mueller however Inoue is moving up a weight class for this fight and will likely be the slightly smaller fighter on Saturday. Women do not always have the massive benefit moving up in weight that men do and I am not sold that Inoue will be able to bully Wu.
I would suggest avoiding this fight entirely as it is very close and while it will be entertaining I believe it will be close. The line reflects this with Inoue being a slight -140 favorite with the comeback on Wu being +120.
The main card also features prominent young fighters Kai Kara-France and Mark De La Rosa facing off at flyweight and here is where we find the best underdog on the entire card. Kai Kara-France fights out of Tiger Muay Thai and is 19-7. He struggled early in his UFC career but appears to be putting it all together.
After a solid run in the WLF, he made his UFC debut against Elias Garcia where he won a unanimous decision and the 2nd UFC fight was a closely contested split decision against Raulian Paiva. Both of Kai’s opponents were impressive PRIOR to their UFC careers and just haven’t performed up to the level required to make it in the championship.
Mark De La Rosa shares a common opponent with Kara-France in Elias Garcia with the glaring difference being that De La Rosa submitted him in the second round. De La Rosa has had 4 UFC fights and has gone 2-2 in them, but he faced veterans like Tim Elliot and Alex Perez and held his own.
De La Rosa is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with a pressure game and phenomenal back takes. If De La Rosa gets on your back you are more than likely in for a short night.
Both fighters are young and both are at the right age to make improvements but De La Rosa has more experience against a higher level of competition, he has far more Octagon fight time, and most notably he is dropping a weight class.
Mark was fighting at 135 where he seemed a bit undersized and after his last lost he went out and got a nutritionist and started taking his strength and conditioning seriously. Dropping to 125 and being in better physical shape should give him the edge in this fight in a classic striker versus grappler match.
I would expect this fight to eventually hit the ground and against the striker, Kai Kara-France, De La Rosa will have a huge ground advantage once he gets the fight where he is most comfortable and being the bigger physically stronger fighter is going to make that much easier.