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In the first title bout between Chinese-born fighters in UFC history, Zhang Weili continued to show why she's the class of the 115-pound division. 

Zhang (25-3) nearly recorded finishes in each of the first two rounds before surviving a furious rally from Yan Xiaonan (17-4), which included three knockdowns, at UFC 300 on Saturday inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. 

But it was Zhang, 34, who ultimately relied on her wrestling late to secure a hard-fought victory via unanimous decision in the co-main event as Zhang took home identical judges' scores of 49-45 in the second defense of her second reign as women's strawweight champion. 

"Xiaonan is an amazing fighter and she's so tough," Zhang said, through a translator. "I have so much respect for her and I want her and I to become friends after the fight. Thank you to everyone for supporting us Chinese girls."

Outside of back-to-back title losses to Rose Namajunas in 2021, Zhang improved to 9-0 against everyone else since making her UFC debut in 2018 and she nearly made quick work of Yan, 34, by wobbling her with hard calf kicks in the opening round before securing a late takedown. 

Zhang then secured a rear naked choke in the closing seconds that appeared to leave Yan out cold as the round ended, although referee Jason Herzog allowed her the time to prove she could stand up and recover. 

In Round 2, Zhang came even closer to a stoppage when she took Yan down and landed a series of massive elbows before taking her back. From there, Zhang reined down a flurry of punches to the side of the head as Yan was largely defenseless, although Herzog gave her every chance to survive, which she ultimately did.

"I really thought that she was out but she bounced back very quickly," Zhang said. 

Just as Zhang looked fatigued to start Round 3 after failing to get the finish in the previous round, the battle-tested Yan came alive in a big way. Twice, she floored Zhang with clean right hands and scored a late takedown of her own to complete five minutes of come-from-behind dominance. 

But it was the never-ending stamina and determination of Zhang, along with the grappling advantages that she leaned on late, which allowed her to sweep the championship rounds to secure the victory. In both rounds, Zhang threatened chokes briefly before being forced to settle for a decision win.