Weili Zhang finishes Andrade to become first Chinese UFC champion


UFC women's strawweight champion Weili Zhang. (John Locher/AP)

History was made early Saturday as Weili Zhang became the first UFC champion from China.

The Hebei native, who fights out of Beijing, shocked the mixed martial arts community by knocking out Jessica Andrade to win the UFC strawweight title at a UFC Fight Night event in Shenzhen.

Zhang took a page out of her opponent’s playbook and overwhelmed Andrade with a series of powerful punches and knees until dropping her to the canvas where the referee called a stop to the action just 42 seconds into the first round.

The crowd at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre Arena roared for their fighter as she hopped on top of the Octagon cage to celebrate.

Zhang, now 20-1 in MMA and 4-0 in the past year since joining the UFC, hasn’t lost since her professional debut back in 2013. The 30-year-old beat Danielle Taylor plus respected veterans Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres en route to earning her title shot in the 115-pound weight class.

UFC president Dana White told reporters following the event that he had already begun receiving calls about potential endorsement deal opportunities because of Zhang’s global appeal.

Saturday’s event marked the sixth time the UFC has hosted an event in China since 2012.

White added that “Zhang’s next fight will be in the United States.”

Her technical knockout victory was among that fastest finishes in UFC title fight history as well.

Andrade (20-7) had won seven of her previous eight bouts prior to Saturday. The 27-year-old Brazilian won the belt in May at UFC 237 when she knocked out Rose Namajunas with a vicious slam.

In Saturday’s co-main event, the heavy-handed Li Jingliang picked up a dramatic third-round TKO win over the streaking Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

Below are the complete results from UFC Shenzhen:

— Weili Zhang def. Jéssica Andrade by TKO
— Li Jingliang def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos by TKO
— Kai Kara-France def. Mark De La Rosa by unanimous decision
— Kenan Song def. Derrick Krantz by unanimous decision
— Mizuki Inoue def. Wu Yanan by split decision

— Anthony Hernandez def. Jun Yong Park by submission (anaconda choke)
— Mudaerji Su def. Andre Soukhamthath by unanimous decision
— Da Un Jung def. Khadis Ibragimov by submission (standing guillotine choke)
— Damir Ismagulov def. Thiago Moisés by unanimous decision
— Alateng Heili def. Danaa Batgerel by unanimous decision
— Karolline Rosa Cavedo def. Lara Fritzen Procópio by split decision


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