Aside from former champion Zhang Weili, Li Jingliang is perhaps China’s biggest name in terms of UFC talent. Born March 20th, 1988 in the small town of Tacheng, Xinjiang, China, Li (now 34), began his martial arts training with Chinese wrestling and Sanda before moving to Beijing in 2008 to pursue a career in MMA.
Training under China’s very first UFC fighter Zhang Tiequan, Li Jingliang was a Legend FC Welterweight Champion before signing with the UFC.
He currently holds a record of 19 wins and 8 losses. Among those 19 wins, 10 came via knockout and 4 by way of submission. Having originally trained under China Top Team, Li also trained with Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male and has most recently switched to Kill Cliff FC (known before as Sanford MMA).
In addition to the Legend FC Welterweight Championship, Li Jingliang has quite the bonus resume in the UFC, with two Fight of the Night, and five Performance of the Night bonuses.
He is currently tied with Thiago Alves and Vicente Luque for the second most knockouts in UFC welterweight division history, and for a while, he was ranked in the top 15 among the UFC welterweights.
Although he most recently lost his spot in the rankings to Daniel Rodriguez, Li witnessed his stock go up ever since, not to mention that his loss came via controversial split decision. In fact, it has only proved Li to be quite gamebred, as Li and Rodriguez were originally scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson at 170lbs and Kevin Holland at a catchweight of 180lbs respectively.
However, due to Khamzat Chimaev missing weight by a whopping 8lbs for his scheduled matchup against Stockton’s own Nate Diaz, matchups had to be rearranged less than 24 hours before the event. As such, Li was the only fighter to agree to an opponent who weighed in 10lbs heavier than him.
So now that we have a good amount of his backstory covered, let’s countdown Li “The Leech” Jingliang’s Top 5 MMA Finishes!
5. Vs. Zak Ottow – UFC FN 122 (Nov. 25, 2017)
After going 13-4, Li was on a 3-fight win streak and successfully extended that number against the 15-4 Zak Ottow in Shanghai.
The two started off trading kicks, with Li throwing leg kicks and Ottow throwing body kicks. At 0:48, Li landed a right overhand that was partially blocked by Ottow. Ottow attempted a leg kick, but Li stood his ground and landed a cross-hook combination at 0:56.
With Li constantly feinting, Ottow attempted to blitz in at 1:27, but was caught with a hook-cross combination. At 2:02, Li landed a clean right cross to Ottow’s jaw.
At 2:42, Li countered another of Ottow’s leg kicks with the same right cross, this time dropping him. With Ottow on the floor shelling, and covering up, it was clear that he was hurt, thus prompting The Leech to go in for the kill with ground and pound.
Eventually, referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 2:57 of round 1.
This victory earned Li his first Performance of the Night bonus.
4. Vs. David Zawada – UFC FN 141 (Nov. 24, 2018)
Coming fresh off a unanimous decision victory against Daichi Abe, the 15-5 Li Jingliang faced off against Germany’s David Zawada, who was 16-5 at the time.
At the start of the fight, Zawada wasted no time rushing to the center of the octagon. Although Li landed a few punches, it was Zawada who knocked Li down at 1:02 of round 1. Nonetheless, Li recovered well and scrambled back on his feet at 1:18.
With his back against the fence, Li took Zawada down at 1:37, landing on top in half guard. With Li on top for 65 seconds, Zawada got back up at 2:42. Although Zawada rushed Li and was landing flurries of shots, Li appeared to gain his second wind and won a few exchanges to end round 1.
In round 2 at 0:30, Li attempted a double-leg takedown that was well defended by Zawada, but The Leech followed with a couple of hooks to the face.
Despite Zawada probably taking round 1 due to the knockdown, Li’s confidence was increasing. Li darted in with a cross-hook combination at 1:31 and wrapped his left arm around Zawada’s neck in the process.
The two disengaged with Li immediately shooting with the same cross-hook combination. Other than that, this round was mainly back-and-forth. Nevertheless, at 2:03, Li managed to land an overhand right off a one-two that stunned Zawada momentarily.
As the round progressed, Li was the one getting the better of the exchanges. With 11 seconds left, Li landed a right cross that appeared to wobble Zawada. With 5 seconds left, Li unleashed on Zawada and got carried away such that the referee had to forcefully split the two.
By round 3, Li’s confidence continued to rise. He kept winning most of the exchanges, faking and feinting with great head movement as well as footwork, and landing punches and leg kicks.
At 1:45, Li landed a rear teep that pushed Zawada to the end of the cage, with Li following up with a flurry of punches before disengaging and ordering Zawada to meet him at the center at 1:49.
Although Zawada pressed forward, Li was able to stun him with a left hook at 2:03. Li continued to pressure Zawada and land shot after shot.
At 4:03, Li threw a side kick to the mid-section, causing Zawada to crumble to the canvas and fold. Li proceeded with a little ground and pound before the referee stopped the fight at 4:07.
This finish earned Li his second Performance of the Night bonus.
3. Vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos – UFC FN 141 (Aug. 31, 2019)
Following his victory over David Zawada, the 16-5 Li had his first ranked opponent in the form of no.14-ranked welterweight and Capoeira maestro, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, who was 21-5 at the time.
To start, dos Santos threw a few kicks. At 1:43, he attempted a leg kick that was caught by Li, who threw a cross that briefly brought dos Santos to the canvas, only for the Brazilian to quickly pop back up to his feet.
At 2:40, Li countered dos Santos’ leg kick with another right cross, but Santos immediately returned a cross-hook combination.
At 3:40, Li rushed with a darting 3-punch combination that caught the Brazilian off balance. With 20 seconds left in the first round, Li dropped dos Santos with a right cross. Santos managed to get back up, but ate a knee in the process at 4:42. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop the Brazilian from pressing Li against the cage and holding him there until the bell sounded.
In round 2 at 0:20, Li threw a left-right combination that hurt dos Santos on the right hand. Nonetheless, the Brazilian pressed forward and tried swinging wildly, only for Li to move out the way as the shots were telegraphed.
At 0:45, Li countered a body kick with another right cross. Li continued to land, and dos Santos landed a side-kick-to-spinning-hook-kick combination at 2:06, with the spinning hook kick just grazing off the top of Li’s head.
Dos Santos started to land consistently until Li cut the angle and countered with a check left at 2:50. Li got back into his groove and darted forward with a 3-punch combo at 3:19. He landed another check hook at 3:28.
Dos Santos continued to press forward, but Li landed a heavy, 3-punch combo at 3:35. At 3:53, Li attempted to change levels and shoot for a takedown, but was denied by Santos who immediately went for the clinch, however Li broke free with some hook punches at 3:55. At this point, Li had landed 17 head strikes, whereas dos Santos landed only 6. With 10 seconds left, the two engaged in a quick brawl of hands.
In round 3, dos Santos continued pressing forward, but Li continued fighting a smart fight and was still landing the better shots.
At 0:43, Santos attempted a flying knee to close the gap, push Li to the fence, and engage in a brawl, only for Li to quickly cut angles. At the 2:00 mark, Li landed a right cross against the advancing Santos.
Aware that he was down on the score cards, dos Santos continued to advance forward and swing wildly. But Li continued getting the better of his opponent with good footwork and shot selection.
By 3:01, Li scored a single-leg takedown, yet Santos quickly scrambled up to his feet. At 3:07, dos Santos attempted a jab, only for Li to duck and counter with an overhand right. Li proceeded to clinch dos Santos, but the Brazilian broke free.
Shortly after however, Santos slipped and was on his back for a quick second at 3:10. Santos continued pressing forward and landed a few shots, but for the most part, Li was moving really well, and with 22 seconds left, Li caught Santos with a right uppercut that knocked his quarry down again.
With some scrambling on the ground Li rained ground and pound, and while Santos got back up with 13 seconds left on the clock, he was eating more shots that knocked him down for a third time.
Now with 10 seconds left, the referee waved off the fight, and Li not only earned his third Performance of the Night bonus, but also a spot in the top 15 rankings for the first time!
2. Vs. Muslim Salikhov – UFC on ABC 3 (July 16, 2022)
Despite a tough loss to Khamzat Chimaev, the 18-7 Li Jingliang redeemed himself against rising welterweight prospect and Sanda world champion Muslim Salikhov, who was 18-2 and looking to earn a spot in the welterweight rankings. Li nonetheless spoiled that party.
At 25 seconds into round 1, Salikhov landed his signature spinning hook kick that was partially blocked by Li. Besides that, it was mainly the hands and leg kicks of Li against the spin kicks of Salikhov.
At 1:49, Li attempted a leg kick, only for Salikhov to catch it and transition into a takedown, ending up in Li’s closed guard.
At 2:56, Li was able to push Salikhov off and get back on his feet. At 3:20, Salikhov tried a jump spinning back kick that was jammed by Li. With 38 seconds left, Salikhov went for another spinning back kick, which landed on Li’s forearm.
At 0:20 into round 2, Li attempted another leg kick that was caught by Salikhov, who landed a right cross sweeping Li onto the canvas. Salikhov, however, did not engage with Li on the ground, allowing him to get back up.
Again, it was Li’s hands and leg kicks against Salikhov’s spin kicks. Thanks to his functional strength and conditioning, Li looked like he was in tremendous shape and was landing more punches.
Despite throwing a quick spinning hook kick at 0:37, Salikhov mostly appeared to be slowing down. At 2:20, Salikhov attempted a spinning back fist, only for Li to duck and secure a body lock takedown. Nevertheless, Salikhov successfully got back up at 2:46.
Li continued landing punches against the fading Salikhov, including a series of body shots from the clinch at 2:57. With 57 seconds left in round 2, Salikhov threw a jab, but Li slipped and countered with a huge right hand that hurt Salikhov forcing him to run back.
Li tried chasing him down but Salikhov regained his footing and clinched up with Li at 4:07. Li held his own and landed a hook off the break with 50 seconds left.
With 43 seconds remaining, Salikhov clinched with Li again, only for Li to throw body shots and another right hook on the break. With 40 seconds remaining, Salikhov shot for a double-leg takedown that was stuffed by Li.
As the two got up, Li landed an elbow on the break whilst he continued to walk Salikhov down, and with 28 seconds left, dropped Salikhov with a right hand.
With Salikhov shelling up on the floor, Li rained 3 more blows before the referee stepped in to stop the fight at 4:38 of round 2.
This victory earned Li his fifth Performance of the Night bonus.
1. Vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio – UFC on ABC 1 (Jan. 16, 2021)
After losing (via decision) to Neil Magny, the 17-6 Li Jingliang was offered a chance to regain his spot in the top 15 against the 27-3 Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Despite being the 3-to-1 underdog, Li made easy work of his Argentinian foe.
At 1:04 of round 1, Li landed a stiff jab, and then a 3-punch combo at 1:24. Li continued landing punches and leg kicks and was constantly faking and feinting such that Ponzinnibio often hesitated to pull the trigger.
With 39 seconds left, Ponzinibbio stuck out a jab onto Li’s face, but Li wore it well. But in the next 2 seconds, Ponzinibbio threw a right cross, which Li slipped. Li then countered with a right cross that missed, but he followed it with a left hook that knocked Ponzinibbio out cold, thus ending the fight at 4:25 of round 1.
This is perhaps Li’s highest-profile victory to date, as this not only earned Li his fourth Performance of the Night bonus, but also a spot in the top 15 welterweight rankings once again.