(He’s just a dude, holding a belt, asking it to love him.)
On Thursday, Zhang Tie Quan will become the first fighter from mainland China to compete in the WEC. The China Top Team featherweight product will close out the preliminary portion of WEC 51 against Pablo Garza — who just made a brief appearance on TUF 12 as a lightweight hopeful — after being originally scheduled to face Alex Karalexis (out, injury) and then Jason Reinhardt (out, bad vision). It’s a big moment for Chinese MMA, as well as for Zuffa, which has been angling toward expansion in Asia, but is generally short on Asian rising stars in its promotions. With "The Mongolian Wolf," they couldn’t have picked up a better prospect.
Competing primarily in China’s Art of War promotion and the Philippines’ URCC outfit, Quan has racked up an 11-0 record, all wins by stoppage, with at least 10 of those victories coming in the first round. (The stoppage time of Quan’s pro debut isn’t listed on any MMA databases, or even AOW’s official site.) Quan’s last six wins have come via six different submissions, most recently a 30-second neck crank win against Daniel Digby, at a June event in Hong Kong. Quan holds a knockout victory over a guy named, I shit you not, De Gi Ji Ri Hu. For the last week, he’s been acclimating to Colorado time (and American training partners) at the red-hot Grudge Training Center.
Notable quote, from this WEC profile: "I always admired the wolf because he was so ferocious and majestic. We saw a lot of wild wolves where I grew up and we all heard stories that if a wolf bites you on the arm for example, even if you kill it, its jaw will remain closed…I look at a fight with that same ferociousness…If there is any opportunity to finish, I finish. I won’t quit, I do my best and try to end things as quickly as possible."
After the jump: The Wolf in action.
(Quan vs. Seong Hee Kim, 9/22/07)
(Quan vs. Shashi Sathe, 6/27/08)
(Ending of Quan vs. Malik Arash Mawlayi, 12/23/07)