Why Zhang Weili vs. Yan Xiaonan is China's biggest UFC fight ever

UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili will defend her title against Yan Xiaonan at UFC 300.
UFC 292: Sterling v O'Malley
UFC 292: Sterling v O'Malley / Paul Rutherford/GettyImages

History will be made when Zhang Weili and Yan Xiaonan square off in the UFC 300 co-main event on April 13. Weili returns to defend her UFC strawweight title against Xiaonan at UFC 300 in Las Vegas. She returns after earning a dominant title defense in her second stint as champion, defeating Amanda Lemos by unanimous decision in August.

Weili and Xiaonan will make history in their strawweight title fight, and this isn't a typical championship bout. This fight will mark the first time in UFC history that two Chinese fighters will match up in a UFC title fight. Weili and Xiaonan have helped grow modern MMA immensely during their careers inside the Octagon. To begin her first strawweight title reign, Weili defeated Jéssica Andrade for the belt in Shanghai in Aug. 2019, earning a 42-second knockout.

Weili has become a UFC star since that victory in China. After losing back-to-back title fights to Rose Namajunas, she regained the belt by finishing Carla Esparza at UFC 281. Weili is a central part of women's MMA history with her legendary brawl with Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248. She defeated Jedrzejczyk by split decision in what's arguably the greatest women's MMA fight of all time.

Zhang Weili and Yan Xiaonan face off in first all-China UFC title fight

Amidst Weili's success, Xiaonan has also been on the quick ascent in the UFC strawweight division. She's quietly defeated some of the division's mainstays, including Mackenzie Dern and Karolina Kowalkiewicz en route to the title shot.

Xiaonan is 8-2 in the UFC with two consecutive victories over Andrade and Dern. She's reemerged after back-to-back losses to Esparza and Marina Rodriguez earlier in her UFC tenure. Martial arts is a significant part of Chinese history and tradition. Beginning with Kung Fu over 4,000 years ago, hand-to-hand combat and self-defense are foundations of Chinese culture.

Weili and Xiaonan have helped to carry over those traditions into the modern era. They'll fight on one of the biggest cards in UFC history at UFC 300, featuring a slew of intriguing matchups from top-to-bottom.

Some originally speculated that the UFC would look to book Weili vs. Xiaonan for the promotion's return to China, but it didn't come to fruition. The UFC hasn't hosted an event in China since Weili's headliner against Andrade in 2019. The Weili vs. Xiaonan victor could be a headliner for the UFC's eventual return to China. A large crowd of Chinese MMA fans are also expected to make the cross-continental trip to Las Vegas to witness the historical brawl.

No matter how Weili vs. Xiaonan plays out at UFC 300, this will be the biggest UFC fight in Chinese history, and China will take center stage as millions watch worldwide.


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