Li ‘The Leech’ Jingliang promises KO after being confirmed for UFC 221 card in Perth in February
The China Top Team star will have to wait for his chance to see who is the ‘first in Asia’ as he joins UFC 221 card with Jake Matthews match-up
Chinese UFC star Li “The Leech” Jingliang has been confirmed on the card for UFC 221 when the promotion makes its pay-per-view debut in Perth, Australia, in February.
Li, 29, will fight Melbourne mixed martial artist Jake “The Celtic Kid” Matthews on the undercard of the Whittaker vs Rockhold world middleweight championship at Perth Arena on February 10.
Li’s response to the confirmation of the fight was a succinct Twitter post that suggested he fancied his chances against the 23-year-old Australian: “I can KO.”
“The Leech” (14-4-0) goes into the Octagon on the back of four wins, three of them by knockout, including victory over American Zak Ottow at UFC 122 in Shanghai last November at the organisation’s first mainland event.
The Beijing-based China Top Team star’s opponent Matthews (12-3-0) only fought once in UFC last year, fighting at UFC Sydney in November where he defeated Bojan Velickovic by split decision. That bout marked a return to the Octagon for Matthews after months out recovering from surgery and a return to fighting at welterweight, after changing from his original class to compete at lightweight in the UFC.
Since making his UFC bow in 2014, Li has become its pre-eminent Chinese fighter, taking the mantle from Tiequan “The Mongolian Wolf” Zhang, the Inner Mongolian fighter who became the first Chinese fighter in UFC back in 2011 and the first to win after successfully defeating Jason Reinhardt on his debut card at UFC 127.
Most recently Li has been calling out South Korea’s Dong Hyun-kim on social media for a match-up to “be the first in Asia”.
The 36-year-old South Korean, also known as “The Stun Gun” is currently ranked at 14 on the UFC’s official welterweight rankings, the highest of any Asian fighter in the division.
In addition to staging its debut mainland event at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai last November, UFC also signed its first female Chinese fighter in 2017. Yan Xiaonan joined the organisation in September after impressing in MMA bouts across the region. The 28-year-old also trained with Li’s China Top Team.