Chinese fighter Song Yadong suffers first UFC loss

Society & Culture

Also in this week's China Sports Column: SIPG's Oscar may be the latest high-priced soccer star to leave China.

Sòng Yàdōng’s 宋亚东 undefeated UFC streak came to an end at UFC 259 on Sunday against American Kyler Phillips.

The Harbin fighter found himself on the wrong side of the judges’ scorecards, with all three scoring the contest 29-28 in favor of Phillips. The loss drops Song’s professional fighting record to 16-5-1.

The first round was perhaps the most significant of the fight. Phillips came out of the starting block firing on all cylinders, and was by far the busier and more accurate of the pair.

Despite constant forward pressure from Song, Phillips was able to use his footwork to sidestep the advancing Chinese fighter and pick his shots — including a crisp head kick that would have felled a lesser man.

“I’ve knocked people out with this tattoo,” Phillips said after the fight, referring to a tattoo on his right shin. “I landed that head kick on him and I was really quite surprised [Song was still standing]. It let me know that ‘Hey, you’re in the big show.’ If you’re gunna break top-15 those guys are not just going to fall.”

The second round felt more even, with both men very active in the opening stages of the round. Despite landing a number of solid straights on Phillips, Song struggled to spot the kicks at the end of the American’s combos and subsequently could never build momentum.

While the second was certainly tighter, Phillips’s successful takedown at the end of the round secured it for the Arizona native nicknamed “The Matrix.”

Back in his corner, Song’s team made it clear to him that he would need a knockout in the third and final round.

Song was able to push the pace and land cleanly on Phillips. Strong combinations that were missing from the bout’s opening stages put Song in a position to perhaps find that one punch that could turn the fight around.

Unfortunately, that punch never came. With just over a minute on the clock left, Phillips was able to take Song down once again and hold him there until the dying seconds, ultimately securing the win.

While Song was handed his first UFC loss, the future remains incredibly bright for the 23-year-old, nicknamed “Kung Fu Monkey.” Song looks like a fighter destined for the top echelon of the UFC bantamweight division, and may even contend for a title in the future.

In other UFC news, Chinese world champion Zhāng Wěilì 张伟丽 is expected to defend her title at UFC 261 against Rose Namajunas on April 24. Zhang hasn’t fought in a year due to the pandemic. UFC President Dana White reportedly was keen to see Zhang fight in China, but due to the country’s stringent COVID rules, especially against foreign travelers, the fight is set for Las Vegas instead.


Star Shanghai midfielder Oscar heading for China exit?

Brazilian national team attacking midfielder Oscar has revealed that he would like to finish his career at his former club, Premier League side Chelsea.

In an interview with the British sports radio station TalkSport, the 29-year-old revealed his “dream” was to retire at his former club.

Oscar spent more than four seasons at the West London club, winning two Premier League titles. However, he shocked fans and neutrals alike in January 2017 when he joined SIPG for a record $83 million transfer fee

With the move came a $30 million per year deal at the Shanghai club.

“I decided to come to China, and when I look back at the decision, it was a good decision for me, for my family and also for my football; I improved a lot here,” Oscar said.

But as the CSL desperately strives for some semblance of sustainability, foreign stars will have their salaries capped at just $3 million a year, leading to an exodus of the highest-paid players.

Players such as Oscar’s teammate, Hulk, as well as stars such as Graziano Pellè, Stephan El Shaarawy, and Yannick Carrasco all left at the end of last year.


Other news:

U.S. national team alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin questions having to choose between morals and doing your job (CNN)

Yet more calls internationally to boycott Beijing 2022 (Polico)

International Sport Climbing Federation World Cup in China postponed until October (Inside the Games)

Winter Paralympic athletes to keep an eye out for (NBC Sports)

Premier League club circle around foreign CSL stars as salary cap comes into force (The Sun)

The China Sports Column runs every week on SupChina.