Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzen, Guangdong Province hosted a historic night of fights this evening (early morning if you were watching in eastern US/Canada). The event started slowly with a number of decisions, but eventually produced some finishes and high drama, leading to what may be this year’s most memorable moment.
The Performance of the Night bonus winners were obvious choices, with the home-grown Zhang Weili and Li Jingliang getting an additional $50,000. Fight of the Night award went to Heili Alateng vs. Danaa Batgerel, both those fighters also received an extra $50,000.
Performances of the Night: Zhang Weili, Li Jingliang.
How could you not award a bonus to Zhang Weili? The new UFC strawweight champion shocked Jessica Andrade and the world by destroying the former champion in 42 seconds. Zhang landed leg kicks, punches, elbows, and knees in a furious flurry that rocked Andrade moments after the opening bell. She swarmed the Brazilian when she saw she was hurt and forced the referee to call off the contest before a minute had passed. Zhang’s life has changed forever as a result. The global MMA landscape may have changed, too.
Li Jingliang took on his first ranked opponent in the welterweight division, in Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, in the co-main event and he looked better than ever. He dropped the Brazilian with right hands twice in the first round and after that his victory never looked in doubt. He drifted past his opponent’s offense and landed his right hand almost at will. He was clearly ahead on the scorecards as they entered the third round, and dos Santos knew it. The Brazilian was desperate in hunting for a big shot, but ‘the Leech’ saw it all coming. He made Zaleski miss and then made him pay. He finished the fight with a huge counter punch in the final 15 seconds and a few follow up punches on the ground. The massive victory will undoubtedly launch Li into the rankings of one of the UFC’s most competitive divisions.
Fight of the Night: Heili Alateng vs. Danaa Batgerel
The bantamweight clash between Mongolia’s Danaa Batgerel and China’s Heili Alateng was an entertaining back and forth affair. The first two rounds were contested almost entirely on the feet with a number of violent exchanges between both fighters. Those exchanges featured Alateng constantly looking to land a big right hand, whereas Batgerel showed off more diversity with kicks, as well as punches, in his arsenal. After ten minutes, both men had been touched up a little, but Batgerel was wearing the most damage. In the third Alateng was able to get the fight to the mat, after catching a jumping knee from Batgerel. On the ground Alateng landed heavy ground and pound. Then there was a scramble that gave Batgerel the chance to return the favour, with some sharp elbows. The very close fight ended up being scored 29-27 by all judges siding with Alateng. The entertaining spectacle ensured both he and his opponent received the $50K bonus, which is potentially life-altering for a pair of UFC debutantes on the early prelims.