Road to UFC: Shanghai Quarterfinals 1 Predictions

After a successful first season, the UFC is back with a second season of Road to UFC. The year-long tournament pits eight fighters from four different weight classes against each other with a UFC contract for the winner of each division.

All four quarterfinals cards take place this Saturday and Sunday on Asia primetime with each card featuring four tournament matchups across various divisions and a showcase bout highlighting emerging prospects looking to make a statement. Saturday’s two cards will highlight fighters from the Featherweight and Flyweight divisions, while Sunday’s bouts feature the Bantamweights and Lightweights.

The first Quarterfinals card is topped off with a Featherweight contest between Keisuke Sasu and Sang Won Kim, also featuring a clash between highly touted prospects Mark Climaco and Jung Hyun Lee. Undefeated Japanese star Rei Tsuruya looks for a win at Flyweight while our featured bout pits returning fan-favorite Topnoi Kiwram against the undefeated Nyamjargal Tumendemberel.

Keisuke Sasu (11-2-1) vs. Sang Won Kim (9-5-1) (FTW Quarterfinal)

Sasu is coming out of the Shooto promotion, impressing with his heavy hands and strong takedown attack, while Kim is a well-rounded fighter who moves well on the feet with solid wrestling of his own, earning four submission victories. I actually think Kim is the more well-rounded with better striking defense, but expect Sasu to control this fight on the ground and against the cage to earn the decision nod.

My Pick: Keisuke Sasu via Decision

Mark Climaco (8-1) vs. Jung Hyun Lee (8-0) (FLW Quarterfinal)

This is an incredibly high-level matchup that deserves a higher meeting than the first round. Climaco has impressed with a 4-1 record in the LFA with terrific wrestling and technical kickboxing, while Lee is on a tear in the South Korean scene with his heavy hands and precise shots, along with solid top pressure. I like the superior level of competition from Climaco and expect him to get a wrestling-based decision.

My Pick: Mark Climaco via Decision

Zha Yi (22-4) vs. Wuziazibieke Jiahefu (30-11-1) (FTW Quarterfinal)

Zha Yi is returning after a split decision loss in the finals of last year’s tournament, where he displayed his heavy wrestling attack, securing a submission in the opening round. Jiahefu has had middling success on the Chinese regional circuit but is primarily a grappler. Zha’s stronger wrestling and a higher level of competition should lead him to a dominant decision from top control.

My Pick: Zha Yi via Decision

Rei Tsuruya (6-0) vs. Ronal Siahaan (7-0) (FLW Quarterfinal)

We have another red=hot clash of finishers in the FLyweight opening round. Rei Tsuruya has made a name for himself in Pancrase with his aggressive grappling attack, finishing all of his pro victories on the mat quickly. Siahaan is more of a striker with technical Muay Thai at range and in the clinch, though he does find some success from top position. I expect Tsuruya to ground the striker in this fight early for another finish.

My Pick: Rei Tsuruya via Submission

Topnoi Kiwram (9-4) vs. Nyamjargal Tumendemberel (6-0) (FLW Showcase)

Fan favorite Topnoi is returning after last year’s tournament, where he showed off his high-caliber Muay Thai and heavy hands. He is facing the undefeated Nyamjargal, who has impressed with highlight-reel KOs, earning finishes in all of his victories. This is a narrow clash on the feet, but I give the advantage there to Topnoi. However, I expect Nyamjargal to take advantage of Topnoi’s iffy takedown defense for a finish on the mat.

My Pick: Nyamjargal Tumendemberel via Submission

Check our home page each day leading up to the weekend for all four events’ predictions.

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