UFC Fight Night 157 Main Card Preview & Predictions
The UFC returns to action on Saturday morning with an event out of Shenzhen China for a historic event where Chinese fighter Weili Zhang will be fighting for the UFC women's straw-weight title. It's going to be a difficult task against Jessica Andrade but fighting on home soil should help Zhang a lot as she won her last fight in China by 1st round submission over Jessica Aguilar. The co-main event features Chinese welterweight Li "The Leach" Jingliang looking to make it three in a row as he takes on 14th ranked Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. I will be breaking down the five fights on the main card before giving my predictions for each fight.
Women's Flyweight: Yanan Wu (10-2, 1-1 in UFC) vs. Mizuki Inoue (13-5, UFC Debut)
Preview: The main card opens with an exciting Women's Flyweight match-up between two prospects in 23 yeard old Chinese fighter Yanan Wu and 25 year old Japanese fighter Mizuki Inoue. Yanan Wu opened her UFC career in 2017 against Gina Mazany (5-3, 1-3 in UFC) and the fight was fairly one-sided with Mazany controlling the grappling throughout the fight with 10 takedowns and 212 total ground strikes. Yanan would wait a full year until her next fight in November of 2018 against Lauren Mueller (5-2, 1-2 in UFC) and the wait was worth it as she earned a first round submission victory. It was unexpected as Lauren Mueller actually got a knockdown but as she was looking to attack with ground strikes, Yanan Wu threw up a submission attempt and got the finish. Mizuki Inoue is making her UFC debut after spending the past few years with Invicta fighting and this is a good opportunity for the Japanese fighter. She was 1-1 in 2018 with a split decision loss to Virna Jandiroba (14-1,0-1 in UFC) and a decision victory over Viviane Pereira (14-3, 2-2 in UFC). The Japanese fighter has three of her past four victories coming by submission and eight of her nine submission victories have come by armbar.
Prediction: This is a difficult fight to predict with Mizuki Inoue opening as a small betting favourite but Yanan Wu does have UFC experience and is fighting in her country. I think Yanan Wu does have decent counter striking and if she avoids grappling exchanges she might win a close decision
Yanan Wu wins by Split Decision
Featherweight: Zhenhong Lu (16-6, UFC Debut) vs. Movsar Evloev (11-0, 1-0 in UFC)
Preview: This is an interesting featherweight fight as UFC newcomer Zhenhong Lu takes on a very promising prospect in 25 year old Movsar Evloev. Most fight fans don't know much about Zhenhong Lu as he has been fighting with various overseas promotions for the past seven years but he is 8-1 since 2017 with six stoppage victories. His last fight in April was a split decision loss against Ruslan Hisamutdinov but the Chinese fighter is still a threat with his knockout power. Movsar Evloev was in a grappling war with Sung Woo Choi (7-3, 0-2 in UFC) but the 25 year old got the job done with 100 significant strikes and 10 takedowns on the way to a decision victory. The Russian will likely implement a similar game-plan against Zhenhong Lu and test the wrestling of his opponent.
Prediction: The likely outcome is a dominating performance by Movsar Evloev as he is the biggest favourite on this card and Lu is still very unknown. I think Evloev gets the job done by decision thanks to his wrestling and ground strikes.
Movsar Evloev wins by unanimous decision
Flyweight: Kai Kara-France (19-7, 2-0 in UFC) vs. Mark De La Rosa (11-2, 2-2 in UFC)
Preview: The UFC's forgotten division gets some main card action this Saturday as two ranked Flyweight's hope to bring some excitement back into the division. 10th ranked Kai Kara-France is undefeated in the UFC since joining the promotion in 2018 and he has proven to be a handful for his opponents with volume striking and strong grappling. The 26 year old is still looking for a finish in the UFC and his last fight was only a split decision victory and his nickname "Don't Blink" hasn't made sense so far. Mark De La Rosa is now 2-2 in the UFC and looking to get back into the win column following a tough decision loss in March. De La Rosa has found success in his career when he is utilizing his wrestling but he was simply outmuscled in his last fight against Alex Perez at bantamweight. I think moving back down to Flyweight will be good for De La Rosa but Kara-France is a dangerous Flyweight with strong grappling.
Prediction: I'm convinced that Kai Kara-France is the real deal and I think he finally gets his stoppage win this Saturday against De La Rosa. Mark isn't a big threat on the feet and I think Kai finishes him in the 2nd round.
Kai Kara-France wins by 2nd round TKO
Welterweight: Li Jingliang (16-5, 8-3 in UFC) vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (21-5, 7-1 in UFC)
Preview: This has fight of the night written all over it as one of the best Chinese UFC fighters takes the biggest test of his career against 14th ranked Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. Li Jingliang is a dangerous striker that pushes the pace with 5 significant strikes per minute with the majority of those strikes coming from distance. He has five UFC victories by knockout but he does a good job throwing in leg kicks and body strikes so he is not only head hunting. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos is a wild man and one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC with seven straight victories and three straight stoppage wins. He will gladly keep the fight standing and this fight will likely end up being an all out brawl with both men looking for a statement victory.
Prediction: Both these fighters are some of my favourite welterweights because of their fighting style as they always put on a show for the fans but as both men enter their 30s they need to capitalize on these opportunities. I think Elizeu is a better overall fighter and has fought at a higher level but nobody can ever count "The Leech" out. Li has never lost while in China or Singapore during his UFC career and I think he manages to stop dos Santos.
Li Jingliang wins by 3rd round TKO
Women's Strawweight: Jessica Andrade (20-6, 11-4 in UFC) vs. Weili Zhang (19-1, 3-0 in UFC)
Preview: The first title defence for Jessica Andrade will be against Weili Zhang and the champion is taking the fight in enemy territory. Jessica Andrade has been a killer in the UFC over the past few years going 7-1 since 2016 with her only loss against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Her last two fights have been astonishing as she won by brutal knockout against Karolina Kowalkiewicz in September before winning the title by slam knockout against Rose Namajunas in May. A lot of fans were disappointed with how the fight ended agaisnt Namajunas as many felt that Rose was winning the fight but a last minute change on the takedown lead to a quick victory in the second round. Jessica throws a lot of volume with 6.58 significant strikes per minute while mixing in takedowns during her fights. Weili Zhang is 3-0 in the UFC since joining the promotion and she has won 18 straight fights with her last victory a decision win over Tecia Torres in dominating fashion. Zhang is very similar to Andrade as she pushes a high pace with 5.49 significant strikes per minute and she always throws in takedowns during her fights.
Prediction: Unfortunately for fans of Zhang, I think Andrade is almost a mirror match-up but Andrade is arguably better at all the areas Weili finds her success. Both fighters are strong strikers but Andrade has more power behind her shots and while both fighters are good wrestlers I think Jessica holds a slight advantage but it's close. I see this fight going the distance with Andrade getting her hand raised.
Jessica Andrade wins by unanimous decision