42 seconds was all Zhang Weili needed to make history as China’s first UFC champion.
Zhang steamrolled her way though champion Jessica Andrade to extend her unbeaten streak to 20 wins – four inside the Octagon – and claim the UFC’s women’s strawweight title in front of her hometown fans.
“My name is Zhang Weili and I am from China. Remember me,” she said in her post-fight interview.
Seconds into the five round fight, Weili delivered a punch to Andrade’s chin, wobbling the Brazilian before unloading a barrage of elbows, knees and punches before the referee intervened and ended the fight.
“It is like a fantastic dream coming true. I think the keys to my win were my calm mindset and the strategy defined by my coaches,” she said.
“All the strategies were practical, predicted each important point and helped me seize every opportunity.”
Zhang’s win could not have come at a better time for the UFC as it looks to make its market on the massive potential that is China.
A new Performance Institute in Shanghai opened several months ago to serve as a training hub for the promotion’s Asian fighters and also cultivate new talent.
UFC president Dana White said the 30-year-old will have a massive impact on the sport of MMA in China.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 31, 2019
“Weili Zhang’s performance was so good and so big,” White said during the post-fight news conference from Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre.
“People were watching this fight from Canada, the United States, Brazil, the Middle East… Weili Zhang became a huge star tonight globally, not just here in China.”
While also hinted that her first title defense may take place in on US soil, but Zhang says she is open to the idea should her team be allowed into the United States.
“I performed well last year in Beijing, and I won the belt this year in Shenzhen, since all my coaches are here with me, supporting me.
“I don’t have a name for next opponent right now, I will take whoever UFC gives to me. But personally, I will take a long sleep tonight and rest.”
Saturday’s co-feature saw Li Jingliang knock out favored Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in the closing seconds of their welterweight match.
UFC Shenzhen results
Weili Zhang def. Jessica Andrade
TKO (strikes) at 0:42 of R1
Li Jingliang def. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
TKO (punches) at 4:51 of R3
Kai Kara-France def. Mark De La Rosa
Song Kenan def. Derrick Krantz
Mizuki Inoue def. Wu Yanan
Anthony Hernandez def. Jun Yong Park
Submission (anaconda Choke) at 4:39 of R2
Su Mudaerji def Andre Soukhamthath
Da Un Jung def. Khadis Ibragimov
Submission (guillotine choke) at 2:00 of R3
Damir Ismagulov def. Thiago Moises
Heili Alateng def. Danaa Batgerel
Karol Rosa def. Lara Procopio