The UFC will hold its first card in mainland China this Saturday. It was supposed to be a headliner between the legendary former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva versus The Ultimate Fighter winner Kelvin Gastelum, but the “Spider” was flagged and taken off the card by the anti-doping agency.
Michael Bisping has unbelievably stepped up to replace the Brazilian just 21 days after he lost the title to UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre.
The card features eight Chinese fighters and besides the main event doesn’t have any star power, but you can still get in on the betting action with Betsafe. Let’s take a closer look at the fights going down at the Mercedes Benz Arena.
Hu Yaozong (3-0) Vs. Cyril Asker (8-3)
Yaozong is a late replacement against Cyril Asker that will open up the event Saturday. It is just the fourth fight for the Chinese fighter that steps in for a fighter pulled by the anti-doping agency. Asker is from France and will look to rebound from a TKO in June.
Wuliji Buren (10-4-0) Vs. Rolanda Dy (8-6-1)
The Chinese native Buren is on a three-fight win streak, all by finish. This is his UFC debut and will give the local fans something to cheer for. The Filipino Dy is affiliated with Biagtan Muay Thai. He is known for his great striking. However, he is 0-2 in the UFC so far, with losses to Alex Caceres (also on the card) and Teruto Ishihara. That being said, he has fought much high-level opponents than Buren.
Yanan Wu (9-1-0) Vs. Gina Mazany (4-1-0)
Wu is only 21 years old. She has six wins by KO/TKO. This is also her UFC debut. The Chinese fighter is currently on a two fight win streak, both by TKO. Only two of her ten fights have gone to decision. Mazany lost her UFC debut against American wrestler Sara McMann in February. She is a Xtreme Couture.
Chase Sherman (11-3-0) Vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov (17-4-0)
Sherman played college football as an offensive linemen. He is 2-2 in the UFC, and is currently on a two fight win streak. His last fight was a unanimous decision win over Damian Grabowski in July. Abdurakhimov is nine years older with a kickboxing background. On top of this, he began training Sanshou and freestyle wrestling in primary school. He is also 2-2 in the UFC, his last fight was a TKO loss to Derrick Lewis. Since both of these fighters are 2-2 in the UFC, this is a crossroads fight for the big men. Sherman is the slight underdog.
Pinyuan Liu (10-5-0) Vs. Bharat Khandare (5-2-0)
Liu started his career 0-4, but has gone 10-1 since then. The Chinese fighter is riding a six fight win streak, and has earned his UFC debut in Shanghai in front of his home crowd. All five of Khandare’s wins have been by finish, including four submissions. Despite losing his last fight via arm bar, the fighter out of India will be making his UFC debut in this fight. Both of his losses have been by arm bar.
Kailan Curran (4-5-0) Vs. Xiaonan Yan (7-1-1NC)
Curran has only 9 pro MMA bouts, but 6 of the fights have been in the UFC. The popular Hawaiian is however 1-5 in the Octagon. She may need a win here in order to stay with the company. Yan has five wins by KO/TKO. Although her record is much better than Curran’s, she has not fought close to the same level of competition. This is her UFC debut. Her last fight ended in a NC, but she was riding a five fight win streak before that. She’ll have the crowd behind her for this one.
Kenan Song (11-3-0) Vs. Bobby Nash (8-3-0)
This is Song’s UFC debut. Of his 11 wins, he has six submissions and four KO/TKOs. Nash has four wins by TKO/KOs and three wins by submission. He is 0-2 in the UFC so far, including a KO loss to Jingliang Li (who fights later). He’ll need to get back on track in this fight.
Zabit Magomedsharipov (12-1-0) Vs. Sheymon Moraes (9-1-0)
Magomedsharipov began freestyle wrestling at 10 years old. The Russian also has a strong background in kickboxing. His only loss came in 2013. Since then, he’s won nine straight. His last fight was his UFC debut again Mike Santiago, which he won by rear-naked choke. Both of these young up and comers have only tasted defeat once. This will be Moraes’s UFC debut. The Brazilian fought in the WSOF before this. His last fight was a unanimous decision win over Luis Palomino, who is a very tough fighter, but he is the biggest underdog on the card.
Muslim Salikhov (12-1-0) Vs. Alex Garcia (14-4-0)
Salikhov is on a ten fight win streak. This is his UFC debut. The Russian’s last fight was a spinning hook kick KO win over former UFC fighter Melvin Guillard. He also has two KO/TKO’s by spinning back kick, so expect fireworks here. Garcia fights out of the Tristar Gym in Montreal. Garcia has seven fights in the UFC, and has compiled a 4-3 record. He has alternated wins and losses in his last 5 fights with his most recent a unanimous decision loss to Tim Means.
Wang Guan (16-1-1) Vs. Alex Caceres (13-10-0, 1NC)
After compiling an impressive record, Guan finally gets his opportunity in the UFC. His only loss was by decision. Caceres is a southpaw that has fought at bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight. At this point, he’s a UFC veteran and popular in Asia for his “Bruce Leroy” moniker. He has 17 fights in the UFC, and is 8-8-1 in the UFC. His last fight was a TKO win over Rolando Dy (who fights in the prelims of this card).
Li Jingliang (13-4-0) Vs. Zak Ottow (15-4-0)
Chinese fighter Jingliang has a background in wrestling, and is a BJJ brown belt. He’s riding a three fight win streak. He is 5-2 since joining the UFC in 2014. He has four wins by KO/TKO and five wins by submission.. Ottow has ten submission victories. This may be a grappling war. Ottow is 2-1 since joining the UFC. The American’s bouts have all ended in split decisions and this is likely to be another close one.
Michael Bisping (31-8-0) Vs. Kelvin Gastelum (14-3-0, 1NC)
The former middleweight champion is fresh off his loss to GSP just three weeks ago. The “Count” is replacing Anderson Silva in this main event slot after the Brazilian was pulled from the card for an anti-doping violation. Bisping wants to get the taste of defeat out of his mouth as quick as possible.
Gastelum is 12 years younger, though the previous welterweight is quite small for the middleweight division. He now has an opportunity to beat the man that was the champion of the division less than a month ago. A win here will likely put him in the top five, and could push him a fight or two from a title shot. The American is coming off a submission loss to former middleweight champ Chris Weidman, where he did look good early before the stoppage.
This should be a good fight, both men are great boxers and can fight at a fast pace. It should stay standing for the most part unless the wrestler Gastelum has a secret plan to get the fight to the mat. Bisping has said this is likely his second to last fight before a final bout in London this March.
The travel, recent loss, and weight cut will all be working against Bisping. Gastelum’s quick jab, that we saw gave Michael problems against GSP, should help him control the fight. I like the American to win one here and he is a heavy, heavy favorite to do so.
About Ryan O’Leary
Ryan O’Leary is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist and commentator. The Swedish-based writer is the founder and editor at MMAViking.com, which is the premier source for Nordic mixed martial arts news.