After nine consecutive weeks of UFC action came to an end last week, the lull didn’t last too long. The UFC caps off August, as they travel to China with a rare Championship bout headliner. Newly minted Flyweight queen Jessica Andrade looks defend her belt over rising Chinese superstar Weili Zhang. Andrade comes into this contest on a four-fight win streak, with the last two coming via vicious knockouts. Of course the last fight being a slam knockout over Rose Namajunas to win the title. As for Zhang, she’s won nineteen fights in a row, three of which came in the UFC. She’s finished 16 of her opponent and is coming off a big decision victory over Tecia Torres.
UFC Fight Night 157 Main Card on ESPN+ (6 a.m. ET):
115 lbs.: UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Jessica Andrade vs. Weili Zhang – First off, I get the Zhang hype. She’s an excellent talent, who’s got the takedown defense and volume striking chops to beat the a lot of people. However, let’s be real. This title shot is way too soon and mainly based on the fact the card is on China and is catered to the crowd with an array of Chinese talent. Zhang being one of them.
Let’s not forget though, Zhang has never fought someone with legitimate knockout power like Andrade. Neither anyone that will keeping trudging forward with the same pace and aggression for five rounds if needed. Despite the odds, I feel like this is a mismatch. I may be in the minority, but I believe Andrade Zhang is going to crumble when she feels the power of Andrade. It might even be as soon as round one. So with that, I have Andrade retaining via TKO.
170 lbs.: Li Jingliang vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos – This has Fight of the Night written all over it. Jingliang is a heavy handed slugger that’s not afraid to brawl and swing for the fences. He also has some strong wrestling to rely on if things get dicey. Dos Santos is a dynamic striker, whom is very aggressive and a legit finisher. He’s also very fast on the feet, which given Jingliang’s resume, it could be an eye opening experience. In the end, dos Santos has fought and finished stiffer competition than Jingliang. And given Jingliang’s periods of wildness, I’m predicting that dos Santos eventually cracks and finishes the Leech via knockout.
125 lbs.: Mark De La Rosa vs. Kai Kara-France – This might be a closer fight then people are thinking, given that De La Rosa is back to fighting in his natural weight class. And while I’m in the belief this will be competitive, I also believe that Kai Kara-France gets the nod. He’s too well rounded to get overpowered anywhere. The only issue I see, is come the third round, does he have anything left in the gas tank? I know De La Rosa will. However, Kara-France is durable and witty enough to escape any danger that might present itself late. I believe he takes the first two rounds, ultimately winning via decision.
170 lbs.: Song Kenan vs. Derrick Krantz – I expect this to be a fun fight, with Krantz ultimately winning. I believe there is a place in the Welterweight division for Song’s knockout potential, but in order for him to advance beyond that, he needs to start providing more output. Two power shots at a time only will go so far, as we saw in his recent defeat against Alex Morono. Krantz on the other hand is very seasoned, having fought some exceptional talent. He’s got legit power in his hands and a wrestling attack that I think bodes well for him in this fight. In the end, I feel like Song’s hesitancy to throw and being worried about the takedown gets him finished. So with that, I have Krantz winning via TKO.
115 lbs.: Mizuki Inoue vs. Wu Yanan – The size advantage Yanan has over Inoue is glaring, but so is the talent comparison between both. Inoue is very skilled and in this case on another level than Yanan. I expect this to be a washout, with Inoue winning via submission.
UFC Fight Night 157 ‘Prelims’ on ESPN (3 a.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Anthony Hernandez vs. Jun Yong Park – Signs point to this as being a slugfest and despite the odds, I liken Park. He’s on a nice little streak, against some formidable opponents. And I while this may be a reach, the travel and adjustment period to the time, while cutting weight can be a huge factor for Hernandez. In the end, like I said, I’ve got Park winning. Let’s say by TKO.
135 lbs.: Andre Soukhamthath vs. Su Mudaerji – Despite the Sean O’Malley mishap, Soukhamthath is a pretty smart fighter. I expect him to entertain a winnable, yet potentially dangerous standup battle for not too long. Muderji has shown a pretty inept ground game, whereas Soukhamthath has thrived taking down and controlling foes. In the end, I see Soukhamthath commanding the fight in top control and eventually sinking in a fight ending submission.
205 lbs.: Da Un Jung vs. Khadis Ibragimov – When I saw at first that Jung beat the Hulk, I immediately thought to myself that Jon Jones should move up to Heavyweight before his inevitable rise. Then I saw his opponent is a seasoned Sambo trained Russian, whom has had a very successful career putting away tough foes in M-1 and I quickly snapped back to reality. So with that, I have Ibragimov winning via knockout.
155 lbs.: Damir Ismagulov vs. Thiago Moises – Interesting fight, but I got Moises winning. Ismagulov is an excellent wrestler and grinder, which could very well be enough to win here. However, Moises has the power and grappling to disrupt Ismagulov’s wrestling. In the end, the fight is close, but Moises wins on the basis of damage and timely reversals. So with that, I have Moises winning via decision.
135 lbs.: Heili Alateng vs. Danaa Batgerel – Honestly, a magic 8 ball has been the secret to most of these picks. With that said, the fortune stated that Alateng gets the job done via TKO.
135 lbs.: Lara Procopio vs. Karol Rosa – I’m well aware that this card is built on mainly local talent in hopes of drawing a crowd. I’m also aware I know very little about most of the competitors, including these two fighters. So with that, I have Procopio winning via decision.