The first title defense of Zhang Weili’s second strawweight reign is in the calendar.
The Chinese star returned to the 115-pound throne last November at Madison Square Garden, submitting former two-time divisional queen Carla Esparza in what marked the American’s first defense since an upset win over Rose Namajunas.
While not much was said about Zhang’s next appearance through the early parts of the year, a strong performance from her compatriot Yan Xiaonan at UFC 288 appeared to set up a possible showdown in China later this year.
For now, however, “Magnum” will have other business to attend to.
Last week, the promotion announced a host of notable bouts for its summer schedule, including a strawweight championship bout between Zhang and Amanda Lemos for UFC 292 in Boston this August.
Boston we are BACK and we're bringing two titles fights with us!! 🏆@FunkMasterMMA vs @SugaSeanMMA@MMAWeili vs Amanda Lemos
Official for #UFC292 on August 19th! pic.twitter.com/YIX2bVv3iW
— UFC (@ufc) May 16, 2023
Although Lemos will be heading to Massachusetts as a sizable underdog in a few months’ time, she’s expressed confidence in her chances of springing an upset and bringing a quick conclusion to Zhang’s latest rule.
And either way, the Brazilian has guaranteed that the judges won’t be needed.
Lemos Expects ‘Either A KO Or Submission’ Versus Zhang
During a recent appearance on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast, the #4-ranked Lemos looked ahead to her first opportunity at earning gold on MMA’s biggest stage.
While the former Jungle Fight champion acknowledged Zhang’s threat, she expects to have the strategy to nullify her Chinese counterpart’s offense and secure a standout knockout or submission.
“Weili is very explosive,” Lemos said. “She likes to finish fights just like myself, so we’ll set the octagon on fire. I’ll get in there to win. We have a nice strategy, and I’m sure I’ll leave the cage with the belt… Weili is very dangerous, so I have to stay alert of all of her movements. Her being that explosive is a good thing we’re studying in training.
“It’s going to be a super tough fight. We’ll give our all in there. She wants her belt, I want that belt for me, so it definitely won’t be left in the hands of the judges,” Lemos continued. “I can’t tell you how it’s going to end, but it won’t go the distance. It’s either a knockout or a submission, that’s what I’m coming after on August 19.”
This time last year, Lemos appeared a considerable distance away from the championship owing to a submission defeat against her compatriot and former champ Jéssica Andrade.
But having bounced back with a Performance of the Night-worthy guillotine choke against Michelle Waterson-Gomez and a main event TKO triumph over Marina Rodriguez, the 36-year-old Belém native is entering her first title shot in the form of her life.
Quotes h/t MMA Fighting.