UFC 300: Zhang Weili defends strawweight title against Yan Xiaonan

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 13: (R-L) Zhang Weili of China punches Yan Xiaonan of China in the UFC strawweight championship fight during the UFC 300 event at T-Mobile Arena on April 13, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Zhang Weili displayed some vintage form at UFC 300. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Zhang Weili posted arguably two or three winning moments at UFC 300. The end result was the same, though.

The UFC flyweight champion defended her belt against challenger Yan Xiaonan by unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-45), outlasting her fellow countrywoman in a fight that seemed over at the end of the first round. It was the second defense of Zhang’s second title reign.

The first round ended with Zhang finding a chokehold and squeezing tight. Yan’s movements steadily slowed on the road to unconsciousness. It looked like she had reached that point in the final seconds, but she somehow reached the bell.

She was noticeably woozy as she got up from the mat. The fight continued.

“We thought she was out, but she bounced back very quickly,” Zhang said through an interpreter after the fight.

That situation led to some minor controversy, as a member of Yan’s corner was seen putting his finger in her nose, immediately triggering speculation he had used smelling salts to wake her up, which is illegal. Color commentators Daniel Cormier and Joe Rogan railed against the potential violation, until play-by-play man Jon Anik later clarified no smelling salts were used.

Zhang seemed headed for a win in the second round as well as she battered Yan, but couldn’t put her away even as the challenger seemed focused only on covering her vulnerable areas.

The champion lost steam as the fight entered the later rounds, but her early domination made it so Yan needed a finish to notch an upset. It never came, preventing her from becoming the second Chinese UFC champion by dethroning the first.

The math painted a dominant picture for Zhang, who outlanded Yan 106-43 in significant strikes with six takedowns on nine attempts and 12:44 of control time.

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