Li Jingliang reacts to the crazy fight week leading up to UFC 279.
In the leadup to maybe the biggest fight of Li Jingliang’s career, chaos ensued. UFC 279 Jingliang had agreed to step into a short-notice fight against former lightweight interim title holder Tony Ferguson. After the booking, Jingliang was publically raving about how excited he was for this fight and how much he respected Ferguson. Unfortunately, he was not able to fight Ferguson after all. Due to Khamzat Chimaev missing weight, a series of dominos began to fall and three fights on the card were all mixed up. Ferguson went to fight Nate Diaz and Jingliang was matched with Daniel Rodriguez, a middleweight.
Li Jingliang explains why he took the fight with Daniel Rodriguez at UFC 279
Not only did Jingliang lose his dream opponent, but he was also matched with a man who weighed ten pounds more than him. Despite the mismatching, the bout went to a split decision with Jingliang on the losing side, much to the disappointment of many fans. Jingliang was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this unfortunate turn of events.
“First of all, thanks, Dana. He did a great job to make sure everybody has a fight. Even shuffle the card and maybe draw more eyeballs to follow this event. And then I think Nate fight Tony, okay, fine. And Khamzat fight Kevin, okay, they can solve their problem inside the Octagon, that’s fine, too. But how about me?” Jingliang explained. “I fight D. Rod eight pounds almost 10 pounds heavier than me. It’s not his fault, because he made weight to fight Kevin Holland. And it’s not my fault either, I made weight. So both of us we don’t have options. So at that moment, I know why I’m here. I worked for this fight for months. Myself, my coaches, my team and that’s why I’m here. I’m here for take a fight. So when they let me know that okay, your opponent will be D. Rod, 10 pounds heavier than you? I said, Okay, no problem. Let’s fight. I trust my fists. And more important than that, I know my mission here this time. So I still feel happy that everybody got a fight this time.”
Jingliang was a true team player that day when the UFC came to him with the opponent change. he explained that he was happy to do his job and help keep the massive UFC 279 event intact. He spoke about the time and sacrifice that went into his preparation for this fight. He went out a bought a new suit for the presser that got canceled. He missed holidays with his family back in China to get ready for this fight that didn’t happen. He was even, in his eyes, robbed on the decision against a man who he feels weighed in close to 15-20 pounds heavier than him on fight night.
“Oh, course I think I won the fight,” he said. “But when Bruce Buffer declared the result I couldn’t believe that. Yeah, it’s already a awful matchup and the result was worse. And I think it is just injustice. I can accept a loss – that’s fine. But please tell me why – why I lost the fight.
“Please, the three judges, tell me why you think I lost the fight. Tell me. Explain to me, please.”
Li Jingliang may have lost his scheduled opponent and lost his fight on Saturday night but he may have gained a whole bunch of new fans in this ordeal. He is becoming a well-known fighter that many people like, and hopefully, the UFC will reward his compliance at UFC 279 with a big fight his next time out.