After a stunning finish to UFC 241, we all needed a week to breathe. We got that because UFC decided to take a weekend off. That break was short-lived, as we have another event to handicap for the August 31 weekend. A women’s title fight in the strawweight division will headline UFC Fight Night 157 aka UFC on ESPN+ 15 between Jessica Andrade and Weili Zhang in Shenzhen, China.
We’ll take a look at the 11 fights on the card, with some extra attention paid to the main card bouts.
A lot of unfamiliar fighters are on this card in China. There are always going to be some travel problems internationally, but UFC also likes to allow local fighters the opportunity to be fill-ins for the prelims, so we have some of those and also a lot of newcomers.
This fight card gets an early morning start in the US, as Karol Rosa (-120) takes on Lara Procopio in the women’s bantamweight division. We’ll also see Heili Alateng (-115) against Batgerel Danaa in another fight of lesser-known combatants.
Thiago Moises is more of a known name with two UFC fights and an appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series. Moises is 1-1 in official UFC fights and 2-1 under Dana White’s watchful eyes. He lost to Beneil Dairush and went the distance in a win over Kurt Holobaugh. Damir Ismagulov (-190) is a big favorite after being a titleholder in M-1. He is also 2-0 in his UFC career with wins over Alex Gorgees and Joel Alvarez by decision. Laying the -190 is preferable to the over 2.5 (-335).
Two more UFC newcomers meet in a matchup of Da Un Jung and Khadis Ibragimov. Jung is 11-2 and most recently bested four straight opponents on the regional Heat promotion circuit. Ibragimov (-270) is 8-0 in his career and will make the leap from M-1, where he went 4-0 with three finishes, including a title win. This looks like a discount on Ibragimov.
Su Madaerji and Andre Soukhamthath both have UFC experience, but Soukhamthath has a lot more of it. This will be Mudaerji’s second UFC win following a submission loss to Louis Smolka back in November. His ground defense is a concern here against the more experienced Soukhamthath, who was a strap holder in CES. Soukhamthath is only the -145 favorite here, which is telling given some of the other favorite prices.
Let’s see if Anthony Hernandez (-155) can right the ship. The former LFA champ took on Jordan Wright at DWNTCS Season 2, Week 2 and impressed enough to get a shot on a fight night card the following February. He lost to Markus Perez by second-round sub. Jun Yong Park has been fighting on local circuits and has a strong 10-3 record, including eight finishes, but this should be a step up in class. On the other hand, the Korean fighter is fighting much closer to home than Hernandez and should be a live dog for Korean Top Team against the 35-year-old Hernandez.
Wu Yanan (+125) vs. Mizuki Inoue (-145); Total: 2.5 (-360/270)
It looks like the judges will be needed for this women’s flyweight fight between Wu Yanan and Mizuki Inoue. This is the UFC debut for Inoue, who has fought in Invicta and had a title shot 17 months ago against Virna Jandiroba. She is 13-5 in her career.
Yanan is 1-1 in her UFC career and 10-2 overall. Her first loss came against Yana Kunitskaya, who has gone on to have a fine career as a UFC fixture and an Invicta titleholder, in Fightspirit. Her other loss came against Gina Mazany in her UFC debut. She’s fighting at home again here and has lost to two very strong opponents. Inoue is solid, but doesn’t have the same ceiling at Kunitskaya or Mazany.
Pick: Wu Yanan (+125)
Derrick Krantz (-115) vs. Kenan Song (-105); Total: 1.5 (-170/140)
This is a tough spot for Derrick Krantz. He lost his UFC debut to Vicente Luque back in May and will now fight outside of the United States for the first time. Krantz took some abuse in a fight that lasted less than four minutes against Luque. Kenan Song has two knockout wins and a decision loss in his three UFC scraps and will be the native fighter in the one.
Song lost that fight to Alex Morono over 15 minutes, but grabbed a Fight of the Night bonus. He’s aggressive. He attacks. He’s had some back-and-forth fights since he knocked out Bobby Nash in just 15 seconds in his UFC debut.
Song has a height advantage here, though he is giving up a little bit of reach. He wants to stand and throw. If he can, Krantz will be in trouble. If Krantz can get the fight to the canvas, that’s his best hope. My guess is the fight stays upright and Song wins it.
Pick: Kenan Song (-105)
Mark De La Rosa (+180) vs. Kai Kara-France (-220); Total: 2.5 (-265/205)
Give credit to Mark De La Rosa. He’s only 24 and already has four UFC fights under his belt. He’s 2-2 in those matches, with a sub win and a sub loss and a decision win and a decision loss. He managed to hang on for 15 minutes against Alex Perez back in March, but he was soundly beaten in that decision.
It felt like it took a long time for Kai Kara-France to get to UFC. He’s only 26, but he fought 24 times in regional promotions to get to this point. He’s 2-0 with a couple of decision wins over Elias Garcia and Raulian Pava. Kara-France is a kickboxer, so he’d like the fight upright. De La Rosa would prefer the ground game, as he only has one knockout in his career.
France will be the aggressor here, as he has consistently moved forward and pressured opponents. De La Rosa had problems with that against Perez last time out.
Pick: Kai Kara-France (-220)
Li Jingliang (+230) vs. Elizeu Zaleski (-270); Total: 1.5 (-165/135)
Much to the dismay of the Chinese crowd, Li Jingliang is a big underdog for his fight against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos. This ends a long layoff for Li, who hasn’t fought since his win over David Zawada back in November. These two were actually supposed to fight in that match, but Zaleski had a knee injury and Jingliang fought Zawada on short notice instead.
Zaleski is on a seven-fight winning streak. His most recent loss came in his UFC debut against Nicolas Dalby in a controversial split decision. He’s not a stoppage artist, but does have two knockouts and a sub in his last three fights. That being said, Li is an upgrade over guys like Sean Strickland and Luigi Vendramini. His win over Curtis Millender was impressive, but he took advantage of Millender’s lackluster takedown defense.
Zaleski is a big favorite for a reason here and that reason is he’s the better fighter all around.
Pick: Elizeu Zaleski (-270)
Weili Zhang (+150) vs. Jessica Andrade (-170); Total: 4.5 (-110/-120)
Per the total odds, the championship rounds will be activated for the women’s title fight between Weili Zhang and Jessica Andrade. Andrade is seeking her first title defense since beating Rose Namajunas with a second round KO at UFC 237. This new, aggressive, attacking fighter is dangerous. Her previous four fights were the distance, but she hasn’t come close since.
That means Weili Zhang has to stay out of trouble and hope Andrade tires herself out a bit. Zhang is an aggressor in her own right, though. The striking power from Andrade is the concern here for Zhang, who has gone the distance in two of her three UFC fights. The other was a submission win over Jessica Aguilar back in November.
This one may come down to who has more success swinging high. Both girls use a lot of leg strikes, but Andrade has had more success to the body and to the head. Zhang has a lot of pressure as well, as she gets this fight in China. Andrade, meanwhile, can drown out all of it and focus solely on the fight.
Pick: Jessica Andrade