Brazil’s UFC women’s strawweight world champion Jessica Andrade faces her first title defence, and she’s going into her opponent’s back yard to do it.
Andrade faces Chinese starlet Weili Zhang in the main event of UFC on ESPN+15 in Shenzhen, China in a fight that needs the Brazilian to be at her absolute best to avoid a shock defeat.
Weili is in outstanding form and has impressed with her performances since joining the UFC.
She hasn’t lost a fight since her unanimous decision loss on her MMA debut back in 2013, and has claimed impressive wins in each of her three fights under the UFC banner.
It means Andrade can’t afford to be complacent, and she will step into the contest looking to deliver a statement victory and cement her position as the best 115-pounder on the planet.
Andrade shocked the world by knocking out former champion Rose Namajunas with a slam to capture the title at UFC 237 in May.
It gave her back-to-back knockout wins, having already handed Polish contender Karolina Kowalkiewicz the first knockout loss of her career at UFC 228 last September.
Now Andrade faces Weili looking to repeat the feat, and I’m expecting her to impose her power on the Chinese challenger from the opening bell on fight night.
That’s our pick, as we believe Andrade will make the breakthrough inside the opening two rounds to claim the stoppage win she needs to head back to Brazil with the belt.
Bet of the bout: Andrade to win by KO/TKO – 11/4
Four more to follow
It looks like it could be a good night for favourite-backing in Abu Dhabi, with a lot of the fights looking pretty clear-cut on paper.
Both Brazil’s Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos and Australia’s Kai Kara-France are riding seven-fight win streaks heading into their respective bouts in Shenzhen this weekend, and should take victories to extend their winning streaks.
Dos Santos (3/10) is a criminally underrated welterweight contender who should have the game to defeat China’s Li Jingliang (11/5), while Kara-France (2/5) is a solid bet to defeat American Mark De La Rosa (7/4).
Also on the card, hard-hitting Chinese welterweight Song Kenan (5/6) has the power to overcome American Derrick Krantz (5/6), and Kazakhstani lightweight Damir Ismagulov (1/2) should have the smarts to out-manouevre Brazilian Thiago Moises (6/4).