Li Jingliang bounced back from a high profile defeat at UFC on ABC 3 this morning by stopping Muslim Salikhov in the second round. The Chinese star was returning to the octagon for the first time since his submission loss to Khamzat Chimaev.
It was a fight which had particular significance for Jingliang because his opponent is a big star in China. Salikhov made his name competing in kickboxing, sanda and MMA there and afterwards the Chinese fighter paid tribute to his opponent,
“I know Muslim is a really good fighter and I have so much respect for him because he made sanda, the Chinese kung fu, popular worldwide.”
"I knew this would be a slugfest."
— UFC News (@UFCNews) July 16, 2022
He finished Salikhov late in the second round but it sounds like Jingliang has enormous respect for the Russian. He thinks they have both helped to popularize Chinese martial arts,
“Me and Muslim we both made China famous worldwide and in the future I think the fans are not just interested in us but in all the Chinese fighters and Chinese kung fu. The credit belongs to both of us.”
At UFC 267 he was submitted by Chimaev. The Swedish star is the most touted prospect on the entire roster at present but it was still a heartbreaking loss for Jingliang in what was clearly the biggest fight of his career.
But the 34 year old says he learned from that experience and believes having shared the octagon with Chimaev made him stronger,
“I respect Khamzat because he got a win over me and I think he’s a very strong opponent and I wish him the best, actually I wish every fighter the best. I learned a lot from him. Failure is the mother of success so that experience made me stronger.”
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He picked up a $50,000 USD performance bonus for the victory which takes him a step closer to Matt Brown’s welterweight record of 12 UFC finishes. It turned out to be a ‘fight of the night’ contender and Jingliang says that is exactly what he was expecting from Salikhov.
“I know he is a very good opponent, very well rounded. I knew it was going to be a slugfest and I prepared a lot for him. But this is MMA and anything can happen.”
He represents China Top Team but spent time at Sanford MMA preparing for this fight. Afterwards Jingliang paid tribute to his training partners and teammates and dedicated the 11th win of his UFC career to them,
“This victory doesn’t just belong to me it belongs to my team and everyone who supports me.”