On Saturday, August 31st, the UFC will be live from the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre Arena in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, for UFC Fight Night 157 also known as UFC Fight Night: Andrade vs Zhang or UFC on ESPN+ 15. This is the third time that the UFC has held an event in China, but the first time they’ve been to Shenzhen. It’s also the first time a UFC title fight will take place in China and the first time a Chinese MMA athlete has competed for a UFC title. Weili Zhang challenges Jessica Andrade for the UFC women’s strawweight title.
There’s also a welterweight clash between Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and China’s Li Jingliang. And a flyweight bout between Kai Kara-France and Mark De La Rosa has fans and pundits buzzing. In total, there are 12 fights scheduled for this event. Due to the time difference, the prelims will begin at 3 AM ET on ESPN+.
UFC betting sites released odds for the full slate of UFC Fight Night 157 fights. Let’s step inside the betting octagon and examine these current MMA betting lines, identify possible betting value, or upsets, and KO our picks.
The preliminary card features seven fights and is set to begin at 3 AM ET. All betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
Both fighters are making their UFC debuts on Saturday with Alateng fighting in front of his fellow countrymen and Danaa hailing from the neighboring Mongolia.
Alateng hasn’t fought in 15 months, but has won two straight bouts with both victories coming via TKO. Seven of Alateng’s 12 wins have come via stoppage. He’s showed decent skills upright and on the mat, which will be needed against his talented opponent.
Danaa also comes in on a two-fight win streak with both being via TKO/KO as well. Of note, he does have a unanimous decision win over Kai Kara-France on his resume. He last fought 14 months ago and earned two victories in 2018. Prior to that, he was out of action for all of 2016 and 2017.
The oddsmakers nailed the betting lines for each fighter. This is definitely a close one on paper. With that said, I’m leaning toward Danaa to win this fight. He’s only dropped one fight in his career, whereas Alateng has dropped seven bouts. I believe Danaa is going to win this fight at UFC Fight Night 157 via decision.
In another close matchup, Cavedo takes on Procopio in the first of three women’s fights on the night. Both women are making their UFC debut this Saturday.
Cavedo has won two straight contests and has seen her last seven fights end inside the distance. She’s 6-2 in her last eight bouts and appears to be better at striking than on the mat. Four of her 11 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. However, two of her three losses have been via submission.
Procopio is undefeated in her career, but hasn’t fought in a year. She captured two belts in a Shoot Brazil promotion and beat some decent opponents along the way. Procopio is more of a grappler and submission specialist than a striker. But she can still knockout an opponent if needed.
Cavedo is a well-rounded fighter, but she does have cracks in her ground game. That’s exactly what Procopio will exploit. I expect Procopio to take this fight to the mat when an opening presents itself, then she will work her way to a submission victory. The only question is whether or not this fight goes into the second round.
A year ago, Moises earned a contract with the UFC after winning on DWTNCS. He then went 1-1 in his first two fights inside the octagon with both of them going the distance. Moises isn’t a threatening striker, but he does have three TKO/KO wins on his resume. Thiago has shown difficulties with pressure and a lack of elite wrestling skills. Both of those were evident in his fight against Dariush last November.
Ismagulov is riding a 13-fight win streak heading into this weekend’s contest. He’s fought twice in the UFC and won both of them via decision. 10 of his 18 pro fights have ended via stoppage with nine of those bouts coming by way of TKO/KO. He packs a solid punch and top notch wrestling skills.
I see Ismagulov copying Dariush’s fight plan for this contest. Ismagulov has the striking skills to hang with Moises on the feet, but has the clear advantage on the mat. I expect Ismagulov to apply pressure until he gets the fight down to the mat where he will grind out a win. All three of Moises’ losses have come via decision. So, I’m taking Ismagulov to win this fight via decision.
South Korea’s Da Un Jung is a sizeable underdog as he makes his UFC debut on Saturday. He is giving up two inches in height, but has shown a solid arsenal of striking skills. Eight of Jung’s 10 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. Six of his last seven fights have ended in TKO/KO victories including four straight bouts. However, one has to question the level of competition he’s faced.
Ibragimov has a decorated combat sports background prior to joining the UFC. This will also be his first fight inside the octagon, but there’s a lot of buzz surrounding his future. Khadis has won championships in Russia and Europe for the sport of sambo. Additionally, he was a world universal champ and won the M-1 light heavyweight title. He possesses knockout power and a solid ground and pound to go along with his sambo throws and physical style of fighting.
Jung might be a more fluid striker, but Ibragimov has the power and the ground skills to grind out his opponent in this fight. Either Ibragimov does damage in the clinch or he gains top control where he smashes Jung for a TKO. Jung’s not worth a flier and there’s no value with Ibragimov, but his debut will certainly be memorable.
China’s Su Mudaerji will enter the octagon for a second time after losing his UFC debut via second-round submission last November. He was taken to the mat and forced to tap out. Mudaerji has a below average takedown defense and very little mat skills. His specialty is standing and striking. Eight of his nine pro victories have come via TKO/KO. He’s gone 3-3 in his last six pro fights with all three losses coming via submission.
Soukhamthath has baffled me at times. He has the skills to compete in the octagon, but seems to throw fight plans out the window at times. There have been many fights where I’ve scratched my head wondering what he was doing or thinking. Soukhamthath is 2-4 inside the octagon and last fought in April and lost via decision. All seven of his losses have come via decision. Eight of his 13 pro wins have come via KO/TKO.
Soukhamthath has the striking skills to battle with Mudaerji. However, his best bet is to take this fight to the mat where he does have above average skills. I believe Soukhamthath will play around with exchanges on the feet before easily taking Mudaerji down to the mat and forcing a tapout.
This fight could provide plenty of fireworks or it could end up being short lived depending on how quickly Hernandez can take Park to the mat. Hernandez, a former LFA champ, is a solid grappler with a pension for submitting his opponents. Four of his seven pro victories have come via the guillotine choke. He also has the power to stand and exchange punches with Park until finding an opening and taking the fight to the mat.
Park is a fluid striker with decent combos and better technical skills than Hernandez. He’s won six straight fights to earn his UFC debut on Saturday. Seven of his nine pro wins have come via stoppage. However, he has lost via submission before.
Park has the skills to win this fight as long as he can stay upright. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening with Hernandez. At some point, Hernandez will have to take this fight to the mat to get the win. Park will outpoint Hernandez if the fight stays standing for all three rounds because he is the better striker of the two. I believe Park is worthy of a flier, but the safe play is on Hernandez.
This should be an exciting bout between two solid fighters. Online betting sites have them close in odds and pundits have them close to even on paper. Kenan will have the crowd supporting him as he’s from China. Kenan is a highly effective striker with half of his pro wins coming via TKO/KO. 13 of his 14 pro victories have come via stoppage and I don’t see this fight going the distance. Song is 3-1 inside the octagon after dropping his first UFC fight last November.
Krantz had a very difficult assignment in his UFC debut as he took on Vicente Luque as a last minute replacement. He took it on six days’ notice. It was a brutal time just making weight before stepping inside the octagon with one of the top welterweights in the promotion. Krantz had to cut nearly 25 pounds. The 11-year MMA vet isn’t making any excuses over the loss as he now turns his focus on Kenan and getting that first UFC win. 21 of his 23 wins have come via stoppage.
I like Krantz’s mentality and his effort against Luque. He did have Vicente in some trouble early in the fight after taking him down. I believe he will apply the same strategy here and go for an early takedown of Kenan and have success. From there, Krantz will either find the submission or a TKO via ground and pound. Both men offer value, but I like Krantz to win it.
The main card of the UFC Fight Night 157 event features five fights and is set to begin at 6 AM ET. All MMA betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
The recently signed Inoue is filling in for Luana Carolina who was originally scheduled to take on Yanan. Carolina suffered a spinal fracture. Inoue is a talented fighter out of Japan who had some success in Invicta. She also went 11-2 in kickboxing as well. However, her bread and butter is her jiu-jitsu skills where she has scored nine of her 13 pro wins. Inoue has gone 5-1 in her last six fights dating back four years.
Wu has two UFC fights under her belt with a record of 1-1 in those contests. She lost her UFC debut 21 months ago but bounced back 9 months ago as she beat Lauren Mueller via first-round submission. Eight of her 10 pro wins have come via stoppage with six of those bouts by way of KO/TKO. She has the power to end this fight and the aggression to try and finish it in one punch.
Inoue is coming up in weight to fight Yanan and that could be trouble at first. She will have to close the gap quickly and get this fight to the mat. Mizuki has decent striking skills, but would probably lose a standup fight due to Yanan’s height and reach advantages. I believe that Inoue’s top notch ground game will overcome the size and strength advantages that Yanan has. I’m taking Japan’s Mizuki Inoue to win via submission in the second round.
This is a rematch from their first fight, which took place in June 2015 for the M-1 promotion. Evloev won that fight via unanimous decision after controlling most of the fight with his wrestling skills. Evloev has become a strong grappler with excellent stamina to go the distance if needed. Seven of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage.
Lu actually has more experience than Evloev in the sport of MMA. He will also have the crowd behind him as Zhenhong is from China. Lu has some wild striking skills that lack technical polishing, but pack some power. Eight of his 16 pro wins have come via KO/TKO.
This is a great scenario for Lu in his UFC debut. He gets to fight in his home country and take on an opponent he’s already faced before. However, Evloev is the biggest betting favorite on the night and it’s for a reason. Movsar is just as good of a striker as Lu, but he has superior wrestling skills as evident in their first fight. I don’t see any reason why we won’t get the same outcome for this bout. Lu is not worthy of a flier and there’s no value with Evloev. With that said, Evloev will win via decision.
I’m excited for this fight as we have two Top 14 ranked fighters in the flyweight division. Both men are about equal in stature with neither fighter having a significant height or reach advantage.
Mark De La Rosa is a sizable underdog for this fight. He’s coming off a loss to Alex Perez in March, which dropped his record to 2-2 inside the octagon. Nicknamed “Bumblebee,” De La Rosa’s strength is his wrestling skills especially if he can take the back position. He has six submission wins out of 11 professional victories. De La Rosa is a capable striker as well, but fighters with better striking skills like Kara-France have the advantage in the standup department.
Kai Kara-France is 2-0 inside the octagon and on a seven-fight win streak. He returns to China this weekend where he fought many times in his early MMA career. Kara-France commented on his trip back to China:
“At one point, I was fighting there almost every month, when I was trying to campaign for the Auckland card, back in 2016. It’s going to be a bit of a flashback going back there. I didn’t think I ever would. I guess I’ve got a fanbase there already.”
Kara-France is a strong all-around fighter with top notch striking and a solid takedown defense. Nine of his 19 pro wins have come via TKO/KO. Furthermore, he’s shown a knack for scrambling when grapplers try to get him down. That’s exactly what De La Rosa will try to do. With that said, Kara-France is prepared to go wherever this fight ends up:
“I’m ready to go wherever this fight goes—to see what he brings to the table, solve the puzzle and get the finish somehow.”
I give De La Rosa a chance at winning. He’s probably the biggest underdog of the night that I think is worthy of a flier. However, I’m picking Kara-France to win this fight. I believe he will defend the takedown and win the striking exchanges. More than likely, this fight will go the distance.
In the co-main event of the night, China’s Li takes on Brazil’s dos Santos in what could be the fight of the night. Dos Santos echoed these thoughts when he gave UFC his assessment of the matchup:
“If I can’t get a finish, we have a very good chance of getting a Fight of the Night bonus out of this fight. I am one hundred percent sure that the version you will see on Saturday is the best version of Elizeu yet.”
Both of these men have no fear when it comes to standing and exchanging powerful strikes. Dos Santos is the large betting favorite as he’s won seven straight fights and has cracked the Top 15 in the welterweight division. 14 of his 21 pro victories have come via TKO/KO.
Nicknamed “Capoeira,” Dos Santos is coming off a solid win over Curtis Millender last March. It was the type of statement that announced he had arrived in the division. Elizeu won via first-round submission. Dos Santos has the ability to zero in on his opponent’s weakness and go for the proverbial kill.
Despite being a large underdog, Li has won six of his last seven fights and has an overall record of 8-3 inside the octagon. 11 of his 16 wins have come via stoppage with six of those bouts by way of KO/TKO. Li was originally known for his wrestling ability, but morphed into an action fighter often finding himself in wild brawls. Li also has been labeled as a slow starter once the fight gets underway.
These two men are going to come out and drop bombs on each other. If a prolonged war of fists lasts for three rounds, then this will be the fight of the night. Heck, even if it goes two rounds, these two men should win the bonus. I wish I could pick Li to win as I’ve found some of his fights to be entertaining. Unfortunately, Dos Santos has the striking skills and the mat skills to find Li’s weakness and exploit it. I see Dos Santos most likely getting the stoppage in the late first round or middle of the second round.
As mentioned above, this main event is history in the making. For starters, it’s the first ever UFC title fight in China. Even more important, Zhang becomes the first Chinese mixed martial artist to fight for a UFC championship belt.
Jessica Andrade won the title over the talented Rose Namajunas in May. She slammed Rose to the mat and won via KO at the end of the second round. It was an impressive performance that capped off a 7-1 record in her last eight fights. Andrade is 11-4 inside the octagon and has fought just about every top name in her respective weight class at the time. 14 of her 20 wins have come via stoppage. Andrade is looking to get another victory via KO or submission as quickly as possible for this fight:
“I want this fight to end fast. I want a knockout or a submission in the first or second round.”
That’s easier said than done since Weili has never been stopped before. Her lone loss came in the very first professional fight she competed in and it was via decision. Since then, she’s won 19 straight fights with 16 wins coming via stoppage. Additionally, Andrade is going to Zhang’s home country of China, which should give the challenger more hope and energy. Nevertheless, Andrade doesn’t fear going into hostile territory as she’s very confident in winning on Saturday:
“I’m used to fighting in hostile territory. Most of my fights, I faced my opponents in their home, so I’m really calm about it. I’m used to stepping into the Octagon being booed and walk out applauded. Only a few times I [have] fought in Brazil and had the opportunity to have the crowd rooting for me from the start, so I’m used to it. I’m really confident.”
Zhang is really excited about fighting in China and grateful for the opportunity. It’s not often that a champ will go fight in the challenger’s home country. However, that’s exactly what Rose Namajunas did for Andrade when she went to Brazil in May. Being in front of her fellow countrymen and possibly becoming the first ever Chinese UFC champ doesn’t worry Weili. In fact, she’s very confident in this fight, doesn’t feel any extra pressure, and believes she can handle whatever Andrade throws at her:
“I’m confident for this fight. It’s easy for me to deal with Jessica’s strong suits. I’m well prepared for any situation that can occur in this fight, including her power slam, I saw what Rose brought against Jessica in their last fight and I know what not to do. I’ll try not to repeat the same mistakes and walk out victorious.”
Andrade is a mauler inside that cage, but I really like what I’ve seen from Zhang in her three UFC fights. I would’ve preferred it if the UFC had given her one more fight before a title shot, but I understand the marketing and history behind putting Zhang at the front of the line. Not to mention, there really isn’t anyone else better than Weili at this point, except for Namajunas who I can see fighting the winner of this contest whenever she decides to return to the octagon.
As for this fight, I am taking Weili Zhang to pull off the upset. I believe she has the striking skills, especially with her feet, to dictate the distance. She has a vicious ground and pound that could be the difference in this fight. I’m going with China, history, and a talented fighter to come out victorious on Saturday.
The following fighters offer solid betting value based on their current UFC odds, UFC Fight Night 157 matchups, and MMA career success:
A lot of attention is on UFC 242 next week, but let’s not overlook this historic UFC Fight Night event from China. The main card has a lot of intrigue including a co-main event that could be explosive. There are several prelim fights that also excite me. The card has a heavy international flavor, which seems perfect for an event held in China. I’m a sucker for a good story with a happy ending, and I’m hoping that’s the case for Weili Zhang this weekend. I’m taking the challenger to pull off the upset. She’s also one of a handful of fighters that I feel provide an opportunity to make some money. The only thing I dread is staying up until 3 AM PT just to watch the main event.
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