Watchtower of China

All Eyes on Song Yadong in Clash With ‘The Sandman’ at UFC Vegas 60

Can Song give Chinese MMA fans a reason to rejoice after Li Jingliang’s fall at the controversy-plagued UFC 279?

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Jesse Pottinger
Sep 15, 2022 2 mins read

Chill the beers, MMA Fans, as Chinese bantamweight Song Yadong will take to the Octagon on September 17 to trade blows with Cory ‘The Sandman’ Sandhagen at UFC Vegas 60.

Song is the 10th-ranked bantamweight fighter in the UFC. He currently holds a 19-6-1 record and is riding a three-bout win streak following a knockout against Brazilian fighter Marlon Moraes in March.

It’s an impressive record for the 24-year-old Heilongjiang native, but the ‘Kung Fu Monkey’ will have a tough fight ahead of him against Sandhagen. The Colorado-born fighter is ranked fourth in the bantamweight division and currently holds a comparable 14-4-0 record after two consecutive losses in July and October 2021.

According to Vegas Insider, odds for the fight show Song as the +170 underdog, with Sandhagen listed as the -200 favorite to win.

Nonetheless, some also anticipate a positive outcome for Song, who is six years younger than his higher-ranked opponent.

“Sandhagen is a betting favorite in this one. However, Yadong has certainly looked more impressive recently, finishing two of his last three opponents,” opined Sportskeeda, predicting a Song victory.

One could argue that Chinese MMA fans have high hopes for Song, particularly after the unfortunate events that occurred with Chinese MMA fighter Li Jingliang at the controversy-plagued UFC 279 in Paradise, Nevada, on September 10.

The Xinjiang-born welterweight showed up for the pre-fight press conference in an eye-turning custom suit, only to miss his moment with the press due to a melee breaking out among other fighters.

At the very last minute, Li was pulled from his scheduled fight against Tony Ferguson and matched up against Daniel Rodriguez — an American fighter nearly 10 pounds heavier than himself.

Li Jingliang after victory over David Zawada at UFC Fight Night 141 in Beijing in 2018

Li Jingliang after victory over David Zawada at UFC Fight Night 141 in Beijing in 2018

Nonetheless, as we’ve come to expect, ‘The Leech’ gave it his all. The pair made it through all three rounds before Li suffered a split-decision loss.

Following the fight and believing Li to be the rightful victor, MMA fans worldwide took to the internet to express their frustration with the decision. Even UFC President Dana White slammed the judges’ call, saying he “thought Li won the fight.”

But despite all the chaos, Li remained humble and took the defeat in stride, expressing little frustration with a situation entirely out of his control.

In a heartfelt Instagram post (see above) after the event, Li expressed his gratitude to his fans: “Huge thanks to everyone who supports me. I felt a lot of love from you this week. You guys are who I am fighting for. I fight for my people, my family and my dream.”

In an appearance on The MMA Hour two days later, he expressed frustration with the whole situation, according to MMA Fighting.

“I made weight. Tony made weight. Why don’t [they] let us fight? It’s not our fault. So why? Tony fought Nate as the main event — why don’t they let me fight Nate? It’s unfair. I cannot accept that,” said Li, while rocking a shirt with a single word written across: ‘Robbed.’

Ironically, Rodriguez now appears in the 14th ranking position on the UFC welterweight list that Li once held, and Li no longer appears on the rankings. But we’re inclined to believe there is still tons of potential for the 34-year-old to ascend.

After the insanity of last Saturday’s Nevada throwdown, we’re excited to see the first Song matchup in over six months this week. Of course, we’ll be delighted if he can avenge the injustice of his fellow Chinese fighter and come home with his fourth win in a row.

Here’s hoping that, at the very least, Song gets to fight the match he signed up for.

Hungry to discover more human stories from China’s MMA scene? Then take a look at our Way of the Warrior series.

Cover image courtesy of ‘Way of the Warrior

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