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.
Our first Sunday card sees UFC veteran Rong Zhu look to make a statement in the Lightweight bracket opposite Sung Chan Hong, while ONE FC vet Shuya Kamikubo looks to kick off the Bantamweight tourney with a bang. In our Welterweight showcase match, Chris Hofmann and Sang Hoon Yoo face off in a clash likely to end in a KO.
Zhu Rong (22-5) vs. Sung Chan Hong (9-1) (LW Quarterfinal)
We have a fun stylistic matchup heading this card. Rong has experience in the UFC, where he went 1-2 with a TKO win over Brandon Jenkins. Hong is a strong grappler, using position while mixing up his finishing threats on the mat. While Hong could upset this with consistent control, I expect Rong’s technical striking advantage to find the kill shot.
My Pick: Zhu Rong via Knockout
Shuya Kamikubo (12-1-1) vs. Baergeng Jieleyisi (12-3) (BW Quarterfinal)
Expect a fun grappling matchup here. Both fighters have solid wrestling, but I favor Kamikubo coming out of ONE Championship. His experience advantage and superior wrestling should find him another dominant decision, though I expect Baergeng’s own grappling prowess to keep him from getting finished.
My Pick: Shuya Kamikubo via Decision
Kazuma Maruyama (11-6) vs. Sang Uk Kim (8-2) (LW Quarterfinal)
I’m not sold on Kim yet, but I’d be pretty shocked to see Kazuma get the nod here. His record is back and forth against poor opposition with serious durability concerns, though he is a fun finisher and his fights essentially guarantee action. Though Kim’s durability does pose a concern, he has the wrestling and technical advantages to dictate this fight.
My Pick: Sang Uk Kim via Decision
Long Xiao (24-7) vs. Shohei Nose (10-3-2) (BW Quarterfinal)
This is the closest bout on this card to me. Xiao is a veteran of DWCS, where he suffered a UD loss, though he did display his striking pedigree. Nose appeared on last season’s RUFC, picking up a UD win before suffering a knockout loss to season winner Rinya Nakamura. I see this as primarily a striker vs grappler matchup, depending on Xiao’s ability to defend the takedown. For my money, he can’t do it, as I expect Nose to rack up control time for a decision nod.
My Pick: Shohei Nose via Decision
Chris Hofmann (8-1) vs. Sang Hoon Yoo (7-2) (WW Showcase)
Expect a firefight in our opening showcase bout. Hofmann has secured all of his wins by knockout, both on the feet and the mat, though it was against poor opposition. Yoo competed on the Contender Series back in 2019, drooping a decision to Peter Barrett. While he is an explosive athlete with knockout power, his durability and striking defense are concerns. I think Yoo has more paths to victory and save a big KO shot from Hofmann, his superior technique should rack up for a late stoppage.
My Pick: Sang Hoon Yoo via Knockout
Check our home page each day leading up to the weekend for all four events’ predictions and read the first two batches of predictions here and here!
Categories: Road to UFC
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