Newly-crowned UFC women’s flyweight champion Jessica Andrade will make her first title defense on hostile ground and it will be against an unexpected opponent.

Andrade will defend her belt against Chinese Weili Zhang at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 15 on August 31, 2019, at the Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzhen, China.

“Fighting" Jessica Andrade

Andrade makes a quick return after winning the UFC women’s flyweight title at UFC 237 last May. The Brazilian took the title away from Rose Namajunas with a stunning slam KO of the champion. Namajunas had picked her apart with striking in the opening round of the title fight but Andrade kept on pushing forward and then closed the distance. In a sequence where she went for a slam, Namajunas went for the ride and attempted a kimura. But Andrade was smart enough to slam Namajunas to the mat. The champ went out and the Brazilian is the new champ.

Known as Bate Esaca, Andrade enters this bout as the slight UFC betting favorite. She has a record of 20-6 with 7 knockouts and 7 wins by submission. She stands 5-2 tall and has a reach of 62 inches while fighting as an orthodox fighter. She has backgrounds in boxing, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which makes her a very versatile fighter. Andrade has won four bouts in a row since losing to Joana Jedrzejczyk for the UFC strawweight title at UFC 211.

The champion is averaging 6.55 significant strikes landed per minute at a 51% accuracy. She absorbs 5.13 significant strikes per minute with a striking defense of 52%. She also lands a total of 3.22 takedowns per 15 minutes at a 58% rate. Her takedown defense is a solid 76%.

What are the Moneyline Odds?





Odds were taken from as of 8/05/19

“Fighting" Weili Zhang

Weili Zhang meanwhile has won 19 consecutive MMA bouts after losing her professional debut. She is 4-0 in the UFC octagon and is coming off an impressive unanimous decision win over Tecia Torres at UFC 235. Torres was the 29-year old’s biggest test to date and she passed it with flying colors. With Torres electing to fight at a distance, Zhang used aggressiveness to counter her opponent. She used headlocks to transition into throws. The Chinese fighter frustrated Torres by repeatedly putting her down.

The Beijing native stands 5-4 tall and has a reach of 63 inches. She is switch-hitter who is a purple belt holder in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Known as Magnum, Zhang fights out of the Black Tiger Fight Club under Xuejun Cai. She is the former Kunlun Fight strawweight champion and has won 19 straight matches since losing her pro debut in 2013. Zhang was also a finalist at the Kunlun 68 Kickboxing tournament where she lost to Guan Acui in the finals.

Zhang lands an average of 5.49 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy of 46%. She has a terrific striking defense at 62% or just 2.17 significant strikes per minute absorbed. On the ground, she lands 30% of her takedowns, averaging 1.78 takedowns per 15 minutes. She has never been taken down in the UFC.

“Fighting" An Interesting Match-Up

Zhang is a complete fighter who can win standing up or on the ground. She is a very good kickboxer who utilizes her knees very well. On her feet, she is aggressive and likes to set the pace with her boxing. She is also very dangerous on the ground because of her BJJ background.

On the other hand, Andrade also likes to play aggressive and force the issue on her opponents. She is relentless and is never discouraged even if things aren’t going her way. It was this persistence that proved to be the difference in the Namajunas bout. She is powerful for her size and stocky for her built and she uses her strength to physically abuse her opponents.

I think this is going to be a very interesting match-up because these are two fighters who can take the fight anywhere and win. Perhaps the main difference between the two is octagon experience because Andrade has fought longer in the UFC and has faced too many top-caliber opponents in the promotion. Zhang hasn’t but that’s not her fault. She has defeated every fighter that has stepped in her way and that too is impressive.

“Fighting" Who Wins?

One thing that could favor Zhang would be the hometown fans who will be cheering on the first Asian fighter to ever fight for a UFC world title. If she wins, Zhang will be the first UFC champion from Asia and the first woman from that continent to reach the top of the UFC mountain. But we know Andrade will be unfazed. She’s been in too many big fights in too many places to be rattled.

I have a feeling that both women will go all out early and that means there will be no feeling out round. Neither will want to give the other an opportunity to settle down because both can control the pace well. The best way to beat these two women would be to overwhelm them right from the start.

I like Zhang’s potential but I’m afraid Andrade may be too strong for her. If the Brazilian gets a hold of Zhang, it’s probably going to go to the ground automatically. Zhang’s takedown defense has so far been immaculate but she’s never faced someone as strong as Jessica Andrade. I think Andrade is going to hammer out a unanimous decision win here. I’m picking Jessica Andrade to beat Weili Zhang at UFC on ESPN +15. Prediction: Jessica Andrade

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