Welcome to the UFC: Na Liang

Na Liang UFC 261
Liang Na Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

This Saturday the UFC is back in the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida with UFC 261. With a full house of eager fans, for the first time in over a year. Among the many newcomers, China’s Na Liang.

UFC 261 will feature not one but three big title fights. Headlining the card is a rematch between welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. Also, strawweight champion Weili Zhang will be defending her title against former champ Rose Namajunas. One of the most dominant champs in UFC history, Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight champion against former strawweight champ Jéssica Andrade. With a stacked main card the preliminary portion features three Chinese prospects making their debut. One of those is Na Liang who is taking on Brazil’s Ariane Carnelossi (12-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

Na Liang
Standing at 5’9″
Fighting at 115 lbs (strawweight)
Fighting out of Heilongjiang, China
Training out of Longyun MMA Gym
A pro record of 15-4
6 KO/TKOs, 9 Submissions

How will Liang fare in the UFC:

Liang is a young fighter with a lot of experience. She’s fought a lot of low-level competition but has fought Mariya Agapova, Juliana Velasquez, Liliya Shakirova, Liana Jojua, Qihui Yan, and Julia Berezikova. Something you don’t see too much is a 100% finish rate and Liang has that across 15-fights.

Liang right away will instantly shoot on the legs to get the fight grounded with any means necessary. She will shoot from too far out at times and will over-commit on just diving for the legs/ankles. Once she gets in range Liang has shown she is a good wrestler. She’s got a good double leg and is good at getting the fight down in open space. Her grappling and overall ground game is what she excels in. Liang is aggressive while on top. She’s always transitioning and she usually gets into the mount quickly and easily. Staying busy with her movement and her ground and pound has found her able to get into dominant positions very easily.

A lot of the times, the level of competition Na Liang is fighting is just too low, especially off their back. She’s still really good at taking the back, attacking the RNC, the armbar, and is dangerous off her back. She’s just always working when the fight is grounded. On the feet, well that’s another matter. In the stand-up realm, Liang throws a lot of volume and throws nice straight punches but everything is to close the distance. She just comes straight forward and just walks into damage. Her offense looks okay at best and her defense looks pretty bad.

The game plan against Na Liang, really, is that all you have to do is defend the takedown. Her own game plan is never different and to get the fight where she wants it isn’t always pretty. Her aggression, fast stat, and her strong grappling will give some girls problems. With that said her style may not take her very far in the UFC.

  • Striking: C
  • Kickboxing: C-
  • Clinch: B-
  • Wrestling: B-
  • Grappling: B+
  • Striking Defense: C
  • Takedown Defense: C+
  • Cardio: C+
  • Biggest Strength: Grappling
  • Biggest Weakness: Stand-up

How she matches up with Carnelossi:

Carnelossi is a bull, always coming forward looking to land big shots. The Brazilian has power but it’s her constant pressure and will that break her opponents. Carnelossi isn’t that technical but she hits hard and Liang is going to be trying her best to get this fight to the mat. Prior to coming to the UFC Carnelossi didn’t fight the best competition but her takedown defense and cardio have looked solid. Liang is the much bigger fighter but I don’t think that helps her being able to shoot on the legs and take Carnelossi down. This is a favorable fight for Carnelossi and I’m taking her to win this.