UFC welterweight Li Jingliang is expecting a lot of Chinese eyeballs to be on his next outing, and he thinks that should get him a piece of the pay-per-view pie.
In a surprise announcement following the conclusion of UFC 278, Dana White announced that former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson has been booked against Jingliang for the UFC 279 event on September 10.
“El Cucuy” is returning to welterweight in search of form after suffering four consecutive losses at 155 pounds. “The Leech,” meanwhile, is coming off a TKO victory over Muslim Salikhov last month and will be looking to boost his stock at the expense of an MMA legend.
The pair are set to meet in the co-main event, with the five-rounder between Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz headlining.
Given his prominent place on the card, as well as his opponent’s notoriety, Jingliang is expecting significant attention to be on the event in his home country — something he wouldn’t mind being compensated for.
Jingliang: “This Fight Is Huge In China”
During a recent interview with MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn, Jingliang was asked whether he expects just as much home country attention on his UFC 279 outing as he received last time out, when he collided with a fighter well known on Chinese soil having compete there 11 times in professional MMA.
The #14-ranked welterweight contender noted that the fight will be so highly anticipated in his nation that he should actually be given a share of the PPV revenue set to be generated. “The Leech” also noted that the attention in China won’t be solely down to his presence, but also the fact he’s facing a man he described as a “pioneer” of the sport.
“This fight is huge in China, for sure,” Jingliang said via a translator. “And it’s huge enough to — he’s thinking the UFC should give some pay-per-view share ’cause it’s so big in China. And of course, millions of MMA fans in China will watch this fight, not only because of him, but also because of Tony Ferguson.
“He is such a huge name in this sport. (I) was a fan of Tony as well when he just got started in the UFC. I think this is gonna be an incredible, huge MMA fight in China. This is the way we make fans in this sport,” Jingliang added.
Given the eyes that will be on his upcoming bout, Jingliang will no doubt be keen to make a lasting impression by extending Ferguson’s skid and moving himself closer to contention at 170 pounds.
Do you think Li Jingliang will have his hand raised at UFC 279?