Zhang Mingyang had to wait a long time for his UFC debut. He was signed in 2022 after impressing at a Road to UFC event but did not compete at all last year, seeing two bouts fall through.

At UFC 298 the Chinese light heavyweight finally got to fight in the octagon in front of a live audience. He stopped Brendson Ribeiro in the opening round and was awarded a $50,000 USD bonus.

It was the perfect start to his UFC career. The fight lasted less than two minutes but Zhang says the hard work had begun much earlier,

“I’m very calm right now because I know this win belongs to me. Only I know what i experienced, what I sacrificed for this. When I got married there was no vacation, no honeymoon, when my baby was born I was not there, I was in camp for this fight,” he told UFC.com


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Pissed off

At one stage Zhang complained about an eye poke and wanted the referee to stop the fight. He says his vision was badly impaired but this only made him more determined to win,

“During the fight I felt my eye got poked, my vision was affected and I could see two people in front of me. I told the referee but he said ‘no keep fighting’ and then I saw there was a smile on my opponent’s face and I was pissed off but I stayed very calm and switched my gameplan.”

Zhang didn’t look particularly calm as he dropped Ribeiro with a left hook and then bludgeoned with with ground and pound. The 25 year old says he was motivated by the sacrifices he had made in order to prepare for this fight,

“I owe too much to my family, my baby my wife so I was determined to take this win back home.”

First round finishes

He finished George Tokkos in similar fashion at the Road to UFC event. Zhang is now on a ten fight winning streak and every single victory has come courtesy of a first round stoppage.

His UFC career might be in its infancy but it was the type of performance to make the rest of the light heavyweight division stand up and take notice. It is too sone to talk about Zhang being a title contender at 205lbs but he is certainly on the right track.

The 25 year old’s immediate ambitions are much less lofty,

“I cannot say thanks enough to the people who support me. I want to treat my team members to a Chinese meal to celebrate this win.”

Zhang looks like an exciting prospect and at this stage of his career he is only going to improve. The UFC currently has one Chinese champion and the light heavyweight looks like he is in with a chance of becoming the second.