Mixed martial arts have a confident presence in each continent of the world, but Asia and the Chinese UFC fan base, in particular, can be held accountable as one of the world’s most passionate. A deep-rooted history in the martial arts provides an evolution for its fighter’s that will create future legends of the sport. Join us as we preview some of the most talented Chinese-born UFC competitors who’re flying the flag for their country, not only in our opinion but also in the reaction of sports odds who propose these athletes are worth betting on.
Yadong Song (17-5-1)
Song Yadong has made a significant impact on the UFC’s bantamweight division since his arrival to the company in 2017. Song is perhaps the most impressive of all Chinese UFC roster members because of his young age and highly versed talent.
Aged just 23, Song joined the company at a mere 20-years-old and has been impressing the crowd ever since. Having fought in eight contests, he owns a record for the promotion that stands at 6 wins, 1 no-contest, and 1 loss. A great beginning to his journey inside the planets most elite MMA promotion, especially when his age is considered.
Born and raised out of the Hulan District, Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, Song was introduced into martial arts when attending school at the age of 9. And in true Song fashion, he was stepping into the world of mixed martial arts by the time he was 13 years old. His early start and willingness to learn saw the youngster competing professionally before his 16th birthday arrived.
Within a ten-year timeframe, Song was making his walk into a UFC octagon. If that’s not a true testament to his skillset, then nothing is. Most of us were popping spots and chasing girls around our 16th birthday; Song fought fully-grown men.
Li “The Leech” Jingliang (18-6)
A familiar face and highly recognisable name amongst UFC fanatics is the man himself, Li Jingliang.
A background in Chinese wrestling and Sanda steered Li towards the deep waters of MMA, and now he’s been competing as a professional for the last 14 years.
The 33-year-old is also a great mentor and positive example for Song Yadong, as they’re both training out of Team Alpha Male, owned and ran by former UFC champion Uriah Faber. But unlike Song, Li has competed against the world’s elite for quite some time – starting his UFC tenure 7 years ago.
Li recently broke the seven-fight win streak of the heavy-hitting Santiago Ponzinibbio; a counter left-hook was all she wrote, and “The Leech” proved once again, he’s not the fighter whose power you want to play with.
He’s currently ranked #11 and is scheduled to face a severe threat in Khamzat Chimaev at UFC 267 in October. Should Li derail the hype train of Chimaev, he’ll be one or two fights away from welterweight title contention.
Weili Zhang (21-2-0)
A list of elite UFC fighters wouldn’t be complete without the most dominant woman in Chinese MMA, Weili Zhang.
The former UFC strawweight champion has tasted defeat a mere two times throughout her professional MMA career, and she could be considered as one of China’s most decorated martial artists.
On arrival to the UFC, she walked through her first three opponents with ease, which ultimately earned her the opportunity to compete for gold. And it didn’t take long for Zhang to collect that championship; in a war versus Brazilian veteran Jessica Andrade, she finished the fight via knees & punches within 42 seconds of round 1.
Zhang stems from a long line of martial arts skills and traditions, from Kung Fu to Sanda, Shuai Jiao, Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai and a list of disciplines too long to mention.
Rose Namajunas blemished her undefeated UFC record, but we have no doubt, Zhang will seek her revenge upon return to the octagon. She should have the right to request an immediate rematch for the championship, and there aren’t many women inside her weight class that can compete to her standard of mixed martial arts.