Photo Credit: MMAmania

UFC Shanghai’s Zak Ottow on Li Jingliang: “I feel like I’m going to tear this guy up!”

Often times, when a competitor enters the UFC, they start from the ground up– but, not welterweight Zak Ottow (15-4, 2-1 UFC).  Wisconsin’s Ottow has competed in just three UFC bouts thus far, but each one has been against a name opponent.  “The Barbarian”, as he has aptly been nicknamed, has not shied away from facing the most experienced of opponents right off the bat.  In his first three UFC bouts, Ottow’s split decision loss to Sergio Moraes was bookended by split decision victories over Josh Burkman and Kiichi Kunimoto.

Reflecting on his UFC career so far, Zak Ottow is pretty happy with his success, however there is one thing he wants to change moving forward.  “I was finishing a lot of guys on the regional scene,” says Ottow.  “Now, since I’ve been in the UFC, it’s been all mid-tier to high-tier fighters.  I know my technique is good against these guys, but I have to get back to my finishing ways.  I’m going to be opening up a little bit more now going forward.”

Proudly looking back on his last performance (the aforementioned bout against Kiichi Kunimoto) Ottow believes the bout wasn’t as close as the judges made it seem.  “I thought I clearly won the first two rounds.  It should have been a clear cut 29-28,” explains Ottow.  “All twenty media outlets had me winning the fight.  Going into the the third round he came in in really good shape and was doing everything he could to get the W.  He was able to score that takedown in the third round and do enough to stay on top.”

Ottow attributes the struggle of a third round to the short-notice nature in which he accepted the bout.  “I crash dieted for that fight,” explains Ottow.  “I had three weeks to lose 35 pounds for that one and make the flight out there.  If I had more time, I think the third round would have gone my way as well.”

On Saturday morning, the 30-year-old Ottow returns to the cage as he takes on Li Jingliang (13-4, 5-2 UFC) in enemy territory at UFC Fight Night Shanghai.  Ottow knows that Jingliang will just be a continuation of the high level of talent he has been presented in the UFC thus far.  “He’s another really tough, resilient guy,” says Ottow.  “He gets dropped on occasion, but it doesn’t seem to slow him down. He comes back stronger and puts out volume.  He likes to bring the fight and he likes to evade a lot.  He likes to stand and trade and is good wherever the fight goes.”

Ottow recognizes the tough test in front of him, but feels he has the exact tools in his arsenal to take out “The Leech.”  “He’s good, but I’m just a little bit better,” says Ottow.  “He’s pretty formally trained– you can tell in the way he strikes.  Sometimes that’s a little predictable.  So with him bringing the volume and having that jab, cross and low kicks, it’s going to all turn in my favor.  He’s never faced somebody who’s fought out of both stances and moves how I move.  I think he’s going to have his hands full a lot more than I do with him.”

Win or lose, Li Jingliang has a history of picking up performance bonuses, including a “Fight of the Night” performance against Frank Camacho in his last bout.  Zak Ottow is hoping that Jingliang brings that same style come Saturday morning– especially since Ottow feels Jingliang presents holes in fighting this way.  “All [Camacho] was doing was boxing, standing right in front of him,” says Ottow.  “He didn’t throw any kicks or body shots. He just head hunted the whole time, and still almost won the fight.  With me mixing up every discipline and hitting his body with all different kinds of strikes, I feel like I’m going to tear this guy up.”

Zak Ottow’s bout against Li Jingliang will be the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Shanghai: the UFC’s first event in mainland China.  Ottow is excited about getting to travel to somewhere that he would never have otherwise gone if it wasn’t for mixed martial arts.  In fact, this will be the fourth continent that Ottow has competed on his four fight UFC stint.  “One of the things I like about the sport is that it’s a global sport,” explains Ottow.  “I’m getting the opportunity to travel all over the place and fight the best guys in the world.  I thought that this would be a really cool experience– and it is!”


To learn more about Zak Ottow, make sure to follow him on social media:

Twitter: @TheBarbarianMMA
Instagram: @zakottow
Facebook: Zak “The Barbarian” Ottow





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Nolan King is a MMA Today senior columnist, writer and renowned MMA insider. Nolan's other freelance work can also be found on FloCombat, Tapology, and MMA Brasil.