UFC Fight Night 54 Preview: Chinese prospect Li Jingliang takes on Frenchman Nordine Taleb in a Welterweight Clash

UFC Fight Night 54 Nordine Taleb vs Li Jingliang
UFC Fight Night 54 Nordine Taleb vs Li Jingliang

Li Jingliang will face Nordine Taleb at UFC Fight Night 54 on October 4, 2014 in Canada. The Chinese prospect will be traveling across the globe to face the Frenchman on his home turf.


Li Jingliang (9-2) and Nordine Taleb (9-2) are both coming off of decision victories from earlier this year in their debuts for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Li, 26, will be shooting to extend his winning streak to four while Taleb, 33, intends to build off the momentum of his last bout.

Hailing out of China Top Team in Beijing, Li “The Leech” Jingliang has a wrestling base with a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is also well-versed in Sanda, which is a self defense system developed by the Chinese military that mixes Kung fu, kickboxing and wrestling.

The young Chinese prospect began practicing mixed martial arts under the guidance of Zhang Tiequan, an MMA pioneer in China. His professional career started in 2007 and his first ten fights were all contested in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Li’s finest accomplishment to date has to be capturing the Welterweight Title for the Hong Kong-based promotion Legend Fighting Championship. At Legend FC 11, “The Leech” was able to fend off the brawling attack of Luke Jumeau to lock in a guillotine towards the end of the third round.

This superb achievement caught the eye of the UFC, eventually signing him. Li was originally slated to take on Danny Mitchell at UFC 173 in Las Vegas but an injury forced Mitchell off the card. He was replaced by undefeated American David Michaud. In the fight, Li dominated mostly in the standup exchanges with a relentless jab and a powerful right hand that damaged Michaud’s left eye. Most publications saw it as a unanimous decision for Li but the judges gave it a split.

Nordine Taleb, the former Ring of Combat Welterweight Champion, is fighting out of Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Training with the likes of Georges St. Pierre, Rory MacDonald and Francis Carmont has allowed him to vastly improve his skill set in a short amount of time.

Just like his opponent, Taleb began his career back in 2007. He is a very unique individual in that he has participated in both a Bellator tournament and The Utlimate Fighter.

The Frenchman’s first real taste of success came at Ring of Combat 38 against UFC veteran Pete Sell for the welterweight strap. Taleb was able to land a counter straight right hand that floored Sell then followed up with a few more right hands on the ground to finish the fight in the beginning of the second round.

Then, Taleb was signed to Bellator in 2011 and made his debut at Bellator 64 against TUF 16 contestant Matt Secor. It was a very one-sided affair, with all rounds going in favor of Taleb due to his slick standup and multiple takedowns.

After a TKO victory over Matt MacGrath at Bellator 67, he entered the Bellator Season 7 welterweight tournament only to lose by decision to Marius Zaromskis, the former DREAM Welterweight Champion.

In 2013 and 2014, Taleb tried his luck on The Ultimate Fighter but failed both times to advance past the initial stages of the show.

Even though he was not successful, the UFC gave him another chance and allowed him to make his debut against Vik Grujic at The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale. Throughout the whole fight Taleb controlled on the mat throwing down brutalizing punches and elbows leading to a unanimous nod on the scorecards.

Fight Analysis

Li Jingliang is mainly a submission fighter that likes to stand and bang on occasion. Many can attribute that to his youth and fearlessness. This can work great for him against undeveloped strikers without much power but Taleb is not that type of animal. Since the Frenchman is a very good counter puncher and has knockout power, Li will have to avoid running in with his head straight up and throwing haymakers.

“The Leech” probably will need to rush in quickly with his chin tucked against his adversary and smother him against the fence utilizing his wrestling. He has to turn the fight into a grinding, slow-paced affair to tire out Taleb. Li has unlimited cardio and goes full throttle from bell to bell so putting him on the mat and working ground and pound will be sufficient.

Once Li feels his opponent is trying to find a way out, he can then go for submissions. Taleb has decent submission defense so Li will need to try multiple times to finally lock in anything dangerous. Remember, the Chinese prospect has a vicious guillotine choke that he has used to put a few individuals to sleep with.

On the other side of the cage, Nordine Taleb has the superior striking in this contest and enough power to send Li into a slumber. The 33 year old Frenchman has five knockout wins against some tough opponents so he will be confident in his standup skills.

Formerly a middleweight, Taleb will be much bigger and pack a two inch reach advantage over Li. Using his size and strength while defending the multiple takedowns that his foe with go for will serve him well. Just if it does go to the ground, Taleb will want to get back up instantaneously using those assets.