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.
This event sees Kaiwen Li and Kai Lu in the top-billed bout, while the undefeated Sumit Kumar looks to turn back Seung Guk Choi, returning after suffering a loss in last year’s tournament finals. In the Welterweight showcase, knockout artist Taiyilake Nueraji faces off with the returning Han Seul Kim in a fight that promises fireworks.
Kaiwen Li (10-5) vs. Kai Lu (8-4) (FTW Quarterfinal)
I expect a brawl in our “main event” here. Both fighters are coming off KO losses, Li to current ONE champion Fabricio Andrade and Lu on last year’s RUFC. While Li still has a number of technical issues, he loves a brawl and has one-shot KO pop. Lu is also not one to shy away from a brawl but has more durability concerns. I see him getting caught by a Li power shot before the midway point in a wild affair.
My Pick: Kaiwen Li via Knockout
Sumit Kumar (4-0) vs. Seung Guk Choi (6-2) (FLW Quarterfinal)
Kumar is taking a major step up in competition here, as Choi was a finalist in last season’s tournament. Kumar has powerful wrestling and has multiple ways to finish on top, but has fought really poor opposition to this point in his career. Choi is much more well-rounded with defensive wrestling and a major edge in striking technique, both offensively and defensively. I like Choi to deny takedowns and claim a dominant victory with volume strikes.
My Pick: Seung Guk Choi via Decision
Kouya Kanda (11-4) vs. Yibugele (22-11-1) (FTW Quarterfinal)
Close fight here. Kanda has solid wrestling and foundational striking but could piece his combos together more and utilize better head movement. Yibugele has decent hands and a composed top game, but has questionable durability and can be controlled on the mat. I expect a close battle on the feet with Kanda mixing in takedowns for a narrow decision victory.
My Pick: Kouya Kanda via Decision
Jiniushiyue (11-2) vs. Billy Pasulatan (10-2) (FLW Quarterfinal)
We have a fun stylistic clash as Jiniushiyue loves trading in the pocket and also mixes it up well on the mat with composed top pressure. Pasulatan is really fun to watch, throwing no shortage of spinning attacks and threatening rare submissions. However, his defense and gas tank are both suspect and I expect Jiniushiyue to avoid the wild power shots in the first round to take over down the stretch for a decision win.
My Pick: Jiniushiyue via Decision
Taiyilake Nueraji (8-1) vs. Han Suel Kim (13-4) (WW Showcase)
I would be pretty surprised if this bout doesn’t end in a knockout. Neuraji impressed on the Chinese regional circuit with all of his victories coming by knockout, including seven in the very first round. Kim is returning after a showcase performance in last year’s season where he snatched a triangle armbar, the first submission in the career of the South Korean knockout artist. While both possess heavy hands, they also both leave their chin up often with little head movement, though Kim has faced far superior opposition. Though there are some durability concerns for Kim, I expect a wild firefight before Neuraji starts to gas and gets caught.
My Pick: Han Suel Kim via Knockout
Check our home page each day leading up to the weekend for all four events’ predictions and read the first batch of predictions here!
Categories: Road to UFC
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