Weili Zhang can now take a well-deserved bow.
The 30-year-old Black Tiger Fight Club representative became the first Chinese mixed martial artist to strike Ultimate Fighting Championship gold, as she put away Jessica Andrade with punches, elbows and knees to capture the undisputed women’s strawweight crown in the UFC Fight Night 157 main event on Saturday at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzhen, China. Andrade met her end 42 seconds into Round 1, her brief reign atop the 115-pound weight class over after just 112 days.
Zhang turned the Brazilian’s overzealousness against her, answering her aggression with overwhelming speed, precision and power. She connected with 29 significant strikes, per UFCStats.com: 16 to the head, seven to the body and six to the legs. Zhang clipped the oncoming Andrade with a crisp right hand, welcomed her into the clinch and assaulted her with standing elbows before unleashing a torrent of rapid-fire knee strikes. The reeling champion retreated, ate a few more punches and collapsed at the base of the cage.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Andrade vs. Zhang,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk-Michelle Waterson winner: As Zhang assumes her rightful place on the strawweight throne, potential suitors abound. The sudden star has rattled off 20 consecutive victories, the last four of them inside the UFC. A potent offensive machine, Zhang has 17 finishes to her credit: seven by submission and 10 by knockout or technical knockout. The sub-minute stoppage of Andrade was the third of her career, as she previously executed a 40-second rear-naked choke submission on Mei Huang in October 2014 and tapped Nayara Hemily Cascardo with a guillotine 41 seconds into their February 2017 encounter. Jedrzejczyk will meet Waterson in the UFC Fight Night 161 headliner on Oct. 12 in Tampa, Florida.
Jingliang Li vs. Claudio Henrique da Silva: Li made the most of his co-main event spotlight, as he cut down former Jungle Fight champion Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos with punches 4:51 into the third round. “The Leech” frustrated Zaleski dos Santos with sublime footwork and lateral movement across the first two rounds, then sprang into action in the third. There, Li dazed the Brazilian with a right uppercut behind the ear and swarmed him with punches from both hands until the job was done. The 31-year-old China Top Team representative has pieced together a three-fight winning streak since his decision loss to Jake Matthews in 2018. On a run of 14 straight wins, Henrique da Silva has not lost a fight in more than a decade.
Kai Kara-France vs. Deiveson Figueiredo-Tim Elliott winner: The UFC’s decision to resuscitate its flyweight division has breathed new life into Kara-France, who has established himself as a Top 10 contender at 125 pounds. The Kiwi extended his winning streak to eight fights and improved to 3-0 inside the Octagon, as he outstruck Mark De La Rosa across three rounds for a unanimous decision. Kara-France, 26, figures to be in line for a significant bump in competition the next time matchmakers dial his number. Figueiredo will lock horns with Elliott at UFC Fight Night 161 in October.
Damir Ismagulov vs. Drakkar Klose: One of the lightweight division’s best-kept secrets, Ismagulov took a unanimous verdict from Thiago Moises on the undercard to record his 14th consecutive victory. The former M-1 Global champion was awarded 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26 marks on the scorecards. Ismagulov stayed step ahead of the Brazilian -- he outlanded Moises by a 71-36 count in significant strikes -- and set the tone with a first-round knockdown. In his three UFC appearances, all unanimous decision victories, the 28-year-old Russian has connected on 143 more strikes than his opponents. Klose last competed at UFC 241, where he walked away with a unanimous decision over Christos Giagos on Aug. 17.
Mizuki Inoue vs. Angela Hill-Ariane Carnelossi winner: Because Inoue made her debut as a 16-year-old in 2010, it feels as if she has been on the MMA stage forever. However, she turned 25 on Aug. 19 and continues to show signs of further development. The former Deep Jewels champion made a successful UFC debut as a short-notice replacement for Luana Carolina, edging on overweight Yanan Wu by split decision in a three-round flyweight showcase. Inoue has won six of her last seven bouts and seems likely return to the more familiar haunts of the 115-pound weight class, which better serves her diminutive 5-foot-4 frame. Hill will confront the once-beaten Carnelossi at UFC Fight Night 159 on Sept. 21 in Mexico City.