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‘China Power’ on full display as Li Jianliang KOs Brasil’s Dos Santos

Veteran Chinese MMA contender Li Jianliang (16-5 overall) will intend to make the most of his Co-main event billing on the UFC’s breakout card in Shenzhen. With a UFC record of 8-3, Li has proven that he is ready to make his run through the dangerous Welterweight top 15 rankings. Brasil’s Elizeau Zaleski dos Santos is riding high on a 7 fight win streak with his only UFC loss coming in his debut against Nicolas Dalby.

Boasting an overall record of 21-5 and 14 place ranking, ‘Capoeira’ has his eyes on those above him but is showing a willingness to defend his spot against unranked prospects. With several big names and intriguing match ups in the bottom half of the rankings, this result could have massive implications for either fighter’s title run at 170lbs.

Dos Santos opens with a couple kicks testing the distance, putting some heat on a solid front kick that falls short. Li keeps him honest with his own low sweeping kicks to the lead leg. Li captures a leg as it comes in for a kick and searches for a takedown. Dos Santos escapes and continues to offer high kicks to the body. Li is stepping forward with heavy shots that don’t land, but aid in his measurement of the distance. 

On the next volley of the exact same combo, this time Li lands the majority of his shots as he walks down dos Santos. He has made his adjustments and now slowly unravels dos Santos’ timing.  He drops dos Santos with a big shot and delivers a dangerous knee to the head. Dos Santos is dazed, but somehow recovers. He is tough, but he can’t be expected to sustain this type of punishment indefinitely.

There is blood in the water for Li as he understands his opponent more and more with each passing moment. Li is leading the dance and picking his power shots, timing them to counter dos Santos’ movements. Li stays loose and uses his leg kicks to open up his striking. Santos enjoys switching stance as he explores his kicking options, but it does nothing to discourage the careful advances of Li.

Li has got dos Santos’ number and will wait for his moment to explode. Li expertly dodges a heavy combo and dos Santos dashes into the fence. Li fires back with his own walking combo and again fires back on the counter. Dos Santos is moving forward pressing the attack, but Li is never there. Li’s aggressiveness dropped off at the end of the round, but he will be confident of his position going into the third.

Li exhibits great footwork and counter movement as he shuffles around the octagon. He lets dos Santos have his moments as his shots are not connecting. Even when Li is standing still and only moving from the waist, he still avoids dos Santos’s desperately searching hands. Li loads up in the final twenty seconds of the match his strikes send Santos covering up onto the fence with six strikes before barreling backwards onto the mat.

Before Li has a chance for the punctuation strikes the official steps in to rescue the stunned dos Santos. With this victory Li will break into the Welterweight rankings and will soon face the toughest test of his career with no shortage of absolute killers in the bottom half of the table.

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