Li Jingliang returns to the cage at UFC on ESPN+ 15, which comes from Shenzhen, China. The match-up is a fight which was originally booked for November of last year but never came to fruition. Jingliang will take on 21-5 Brazilian Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in the co-main event. The event will be headlined by a strawweight title fight between champion Jessica Andrade and Chinese sensation Weili Zhang.
‘The Leech’, Jingliang is one of the most exciting fighters the 170-pound division has to offer. With four performance bonuses in his last five fights, Jingliang always comes to put on a show. The 11 fight UFC veteran holds an impressive record of 16-5 (8-3, UFC). Jingliang is coming off back-to-back victories having defeated Daiche Abe and David Zawada in his last two bouts.
Jingliang does have an exciting style, but often gets caught coming in when he attempts to land strikes. This was the case when he faced Jake Matthews at UFC 221. Although Jingliang does have heavy hands, Matthews was the quicker man on this occasion, tagging The Leech as he came in. Jingliang did land on Matthews, but stayed in the pocket for too long and ultimately paid the price, being dropped in the first and third rounds. He was also largely dominated on the ground in the first but did show improvements in the third in this department.
Looking to Climb Higher
#14 ranked welterweight dos Santos will be looking to extend his winning run and climb higher in the rankings. Undefeated in his last seven fights, including three finishes and three-fight of the night bonuses, dos Santos is a force to be reckoned with at 170. One of the most underrated fighters in the welterweight division, dos Santos has three finishes in a row. In what is a stacked division, the Brazilian will be looking to put on a stand-out performance in China to push him up the rankings in the stacked welterweight division. Despite not receiving a ranked opponent, dos Santos is happy with the match-up offered to him in China. Speaking to MMAJunkie, he stated he ‘knows what he deserves‘ if he can get the victory in this fight.
He will certainly provide Li Jingliang with his toughest test to date. Solid everywhere, dos Santos has only lost once in the UFC, by split decision in his promotional debut. Since then he has picked up seven wins on the spin, including three knockouts, one submission and three decisions.
Fight of the night?
In a fight which has ‘fight of the night’ written all over it, dos Santos will be looking for a statement victory. It won’t be easy however, as ‘The Leech’, Li Jingliang will have his home crowd behind him. With a combined five-fight of the nights, 20 knockouts and eight submissions between them, this one promises to be exciting.
Li Jingliang will be looking to put away the Brazilian on home turf in order to hopefully break into the top 15. With a win over dos Santos, it would be impossible to deny Li Jingliang another top 15 opponent. Likewise, it would be hard to deny dos Santos a top 15 opponent should he get the win on Saturday. With such high stakes for both men, this promises to be an entertaining one.
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