MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Fight Night 157, a five-round title fight between UFC women’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade and challenger Weili Zhang. The event takes place Saturday, August 31 at Shenzhen Universade Sports Centre Arena in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.
Jessica Andrade (-170)
Andrade (20-6) is the UFC women’s strawweight champion. The 27-year-old Brazilian entered the UFC in the summer of 2013 as a bantamweight and has since gone 11-4 inside the Octagon. She struggled with just a 4-3 record at 135lbs, but since moving down to 115lbs she has gone an incredible 7-1 in her new weight class. Other than a decision loss to former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Andrade has looked absolutely incredible at her new weight class. Andrade is currently riding a four-fight win streak that includes back-to-back knockouts over Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Rose Namajunas to take home the title. Andrade is an incredibly powerful wrestler and a super-aggressive striker with legitimate knockout power. While at 135lbs she was routinely overmatched in the strength department and suffered several losses on the ground as a result, since moving up she’s often the bigger, stronger fighter than her opponents. It’s possible we have a new dominant champion in the UFC women’s strawweight division, and now we’ll see how Andrade performs when she makes her first title defense in enemy territory against a very capable opponent in Zhang.
Weili Zhang (+150)
Zhang (19-1) is one of the top-ranked women’s strawweight contenders in the UFC. The 30-year-old China native is currently riding a 19-fight win streak and hasn’t lost since her MMA debut back in 2013. Since joining the UFC in 2018, Zhang is already a perfect 3-0 inside the Octagon with wins over Danielle Taylor, Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres. Zhang has shown incredible skills so far during her UFC tenure. On the feet she keeps a very measured approach with her striking and is able to attack opponents from a distance. She also does a great job of avoiding her opponents’ strikes. On the ground Zhang has also really shined, particularly in the Aguilar fight where she badly bloodied her opponent up on the mat with strikes before finishing her by stoppage. Zhang might just be China’s best hope to hold a UFC title for quite some time. Many thought she got a title shot a bit earlier than expected, but now that she’s here Zhang has really embraced the opportunity. She now has a chance to become the first Chinese champion in UFC history this weekend if she can beat Andrade, and now let’s see what she’s made of when she steps up for the biggest fight of her life to date.
Fight Breakdown: This should be a really good fight between two of the UFC’s best strawweights. Andrade has looked incredible lately and after winning the title you can’t doubt the improvements she’s made in her game the last few years. Zhang has also looked fantastic in the UFC, albeit against a lower tier of competition. Ultimately, I do have to favor the champ here due to her experience and success fighting the best 115lbers in the world. Andrade has proven she can hang with anyone in the division while for Zhang this is a giant step up in competition. Andrade’s pace and aggressive style is something nearly all of her opponents at 115lbs have badly struggled with and I don’t see Zhang being able to solve the puzzle that is Andrade. I believe Zhang will hang in tough and make it the distance, but I predict Andrade defends her belt via unanimous decision.
Prediction: Jessica Andrade wins via unanimous decision