Jingliang Li can feel hard done by not being ranked in the top 15 of the UFC’s welterweight division.

Having won seven of his last eight fights, he’s in the form of his career as he prepares to faces Neil Magny at UFC 248 in Las Vegas this Saturday night (local time).

The 31 year old will be looking for his fourth straight win and says everything has gone according to plan despite the ongoing coronavirus situation in his native China,

“Everything is going well in this camp and the more I go on the opponents are getting better so I am improving more. Maybe sometimes I get a little bit tired but I will fix it. I will be strong,” he said.

Jingliang earned ‘Performance of the Night’ bonuses in his last two bouts, scoring impressive TKO victories over David Zawada and Elizeu Zaleski. Given that the latter was a ranked opponent, it does seem harsh that he finds himself left out.

Insult to injury

Adding insult to injury is the presence at #15 on the rankings of Conor McGregor, a fighter who has only won two fights at 170lbs,

“I assume that Conor thinks welterweight is funny. And I would love to fight him if there’s an opportunity. And in the welterweight division, the water tank is really deep. Be careful. Everyone is a monster here,” Jingliang warned.

Climbing those rankings is essential for the former Legend FC welterweight champion who harbours grand ambitions for his UFC career,

“Of course I think I deserve not only to be top 15. Top 10, top 5 even fighting for the belt. I am not here just to make up the numbers. All my efforts point towards the belt. I will change my destiny. I will bring a new era…My time will come.”

Comfortable condition

Before the rapid ascent of strawweight champion Weili Zhang, Jingliang was arguably China’s biggest UFC star. His overall game has shown an evolution in recent months, and he’s looking to continue that momentum against Magny,

“Now I’m in the most comfortable condition both my physically and my mentally. Everyone has seen my improvements and my efforts in those matches. I know I’m not perfect yet, but I’m still learning,” he said.

If he can execute the plans his team has devised Jingliang is certain that his hand will be raised this weekend,

“For me, the most important thing right now is to fight like the team planned, and there is no rush, I can take it step by step, and finally fight for the belt. I believe that.”

Similar stature

Jingliang will be at a disadvantage in terms of height and reach at UFC 248. But he has fought opponents of similar stature in the past,

“I haven’t fought a guy this tall and with this long reach in a long time. The last time I fought a guy this tall was at the start of my career and he was a similar height as Magny. So I think his height and reach is the most challenging for me. And he fights really smart, is well-rounded and has good striking and good grappling so I think it’s a tough fight for me.”

Jingliang was forced to stop in Bangkok on his way to Las Vegas due to the coronavirus but the disruption to his training camp was only minor. His compatriots are going through a tough time and the 31 year old hopes to convey a simple message to the Chinese fans watching him on Sunday morning,

“The China power can beat everything.”