After winning the UFC women’s strawweight title in her home country of Brazil, new champion Jessica Andrade is reportedly heading into enemy territory for her first title defense.
According to Brett Okamoto of ESPN, while contracts haven’t been signed, a strawweight title fight between Andrade and Weili Zhang is close to being finalized for UFC China which will take place on August 31, in Shenzhen, China and will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Jessica Andrade won the title back at UFC 237 in May when she defeated Rose Namajunas by second-round slam knockout. Namajunas traveled to Andrade’s home country of Brazil for what was to be her second title defense, but ultimately Andrade came out on top.
After winning the belt from Namajunas at UFC 237, Andrade and her wife were robbed at gunpoint in Brazil. Thankfully neither woman was harmed, but the robbers got away with their cellphones, jewelry, and Andrade’s vehicle. Following the incident, Andrade discussed the incident, saying at first she didn’t even know she was getting robbed until she saw a gun.
The new champion is 20-6 in her professional career, currently riding a four-fight winning streak and has only suffered one lost since she moved to the strawweight division back in 2016. That loss came against the former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
As for her upcoming challenger Weili Zhang, she will become the first Chinese-born fighter to compete for a UFC title and it’ll happen right in her backyard. Since entering the UFC in 2018, Zhang is 3-0 and 19-1 overall in her professional career. Her most recent win came over Tecia Torres back at UFC 235 which she won by unanimous decision, and shortly after the fight, Zhang signed a new deal with the UFC.
Zhang will be the first Chinese-born fighter to compete for a UFC title. Six Asian-born fighters have done it previously (Uno, Sakurai, Okami, Jung, Horiguchi, Kondo). There has never been an Asian-born UFC champ. Per @ESPNStatsInfo.
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) June 11, 2019
The booking of this fight also means that rising contender Tatiana Suarez who just defeated Nina Ansaroff at UFC 238 this past weekend in Chicago, will be waiting for a title shot.
Following her win, Suarez did mention she re-aggravated a previous neck injury leading up to the fight, and may take some time off to recover. This fight booking also comes after UFC President Dana White said following UFC 238 that strawweight contender Michelle Waterson was “ranked too low” to be considered for a title shot.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/11/2019.