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Zhang batters, smothers Yan to keep UFC strawweight title

Jeff Bottari / UFC / Getty

Zhang Weili defeated Yan Xiaonan via unanimous decision (49-45, 49-45, 49-45) to retain the UFC strawweight title in the UFC 300 co-main event Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The champion once again cemented herself as one of the top women's fighters in the world with her second consecutive title defense and fourth straight win overall.

Zhang and Yan made history in the fight, as it was the first UFC title bout featuring two Chinese fighters.

Zhang relied on her grappling and ground-and-pound to outwork Yan in the five-round bout. In a somewhat controversial moment, Zhang appeared to put Yan to sleep with a rear-naked choke late in the first round. Zhang let go of the submission after the horn sounded and Yan seemed out of it. But she stood up, went to her corner, and the fight continued.

In the second round, Zhang flattened Yan out and nearly forced a referee stoppage with strikes.

Yan rallied in the third to give her a shot at winning. Yan stumbled Zhang a few times and officially recorded one knockdown in the fight. But Zhang continued to dominate in the final 10 minutes and sealed the win.

Zhang recaptured the 115-pound title with a November 2022 victory over Carla Esparza and has defended the belt twice since then, against Amanda Lemos and now Yan. Zhang, the champion on two separate occasions, hasn't lost since consecutive defeats to Rose Namajunas in 2021.

Yan, ranked No. 1 in the division, earned a title shot by knocking out former champ Jessica Andrade last May. Yan was riding a two-fight winning streak coming in.

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