UFC women’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade’s first title defense is reportedly close to becoming a done deal.
According to a breaking report from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the UFC is finalizing Andrade’s first defense against Weili Zhang in China. The fight is not officially signed as of yet, but is trending that way:
“Breaking: Not signed yet, but UFC close to finalizing Jessica Andrade’s first strawweight title defense against Weili Zhang in China, per sources. After winning the belt at home, she’s looking her first defense on the road.”
Andrade’s First Defense On The Road
Andrade famously won the belt by brutally knocking out former champion Rose Namajunas with a slam (highlights here) in the main event of May 11’s UFC 237 pay-per-view (PPV) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Prior to the jaw-dropping knockout, Andrade was losing the bout rather handily.
But she persevered to win in her home country, taking the belt home with her as a result. Many thought she might rematch Namajunas immediately, something Andrade even said she would be open to. She teased facing Namajunas in the former champ’s hometown of Denver, Colorado. ‘Thug Rose’ traveled to Andrade’s homeland for their first fight.
It appears the new champion will now do the same for her first title defense, however. China’s Zhang has quietly been on a tear in the Octagon, winning all three of her UFC bouts. She’s won an impressive 19 fights in a row and has not lost since her MMA debut in November 2013.
With finishes in 16 of her 19 overall MMA wins, Zhang brings a ferocious style not unlike that of the vicious champion herself. She most recently outlasted longtime contender Tecia Torres by unanimous decision at March’s UFC 235. It’s still somewhat surprising to not see Andrade booked in a rematch with Namajunas or even former champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk for her first defense.
Did the UFC make the right decision for Andrade’s first title defense?