Sources — Andrade-Zhang match being finalized

MMA


The UFC is close to finalizing a strawweight title fight between Jessica Andrade and Weili Zhang to headline UFC Fight Night on Aug. 31 in mainland China, according to multiple sources.

Contracts have not yet been signed, but the bout is nearly official, per sources. The event will take place in Shenzhen, China, and air on ESPN+.

Andrade (20-6) claimed the 115-pound title by defeating Rose Namajunas via second-round knockout at UFC 237 last month. That event took place in Andrade’s native Brazil. Her first defense will now take place in the homeland of Zhang, who was born in Hebei, China.

It’s been a whirlwind month for Andrade, who knocked out Namajunas with a monstrous slam in Rio de Janeiro. Weeks after the victory, Andrade and her wife were robbed at gunpoint in Brazil. She told local media the armed robbers stole cellphones and jewelry, and took her vehicle.

The 27-year-old champion is on a four-fight win streak, and has won seven of eight since dropping to the strawweight division in 2016.

Zhang (19-1) is 3-0 since signing with the UFC last year. She has rattled off 19 consecutive wins after losing her professional debut in 2013. She has recorded 16 career finishes.

Last weekend, UFC president Dana White commented on several other potential strawweight contenders, including Tatiana Suarez and Michelle Waterson. White said he does not want to rush Suarez, who defeated Nina Ansaroff at UFC 238 but is dealing with a neck injury. He also said Waterson has not done enough yet to warrant a shot.

Namajunas said she was thinking of retirement after her loss to Andrade, but her manager, Brian Butler, who also manages Zhang, said in a statement Tuesday that Namajunas plans on fighting again.

“Rose was definitely interested in the rematch [with Andrade], however right now she is taking time to heal up. She had a neck injury before her last fight and now is just going to take the time to take care of herself and get back to 100 percent,” said Butler, who added that Namajunas wasn’t seriously considered for the rematch due to her injury. “Her plan is to fight sometime by the end of the year. When Rose decides to come back she will come back better than ever.”

This year’s UFC Fight Night will mark the promotion’s third trip to mainland China, an area in which the UFC is focused on building its brand. The company is scheduled to open a UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai this summer.



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