The first steps along the Road to UFC tournament have been revealed!
In addition to the four 8-man tournaments that will make up the majority of the series, where the winners will be awarded a UFC contract, it has also been revealed that each of the first four episodes (which will be streamed live over two days), will feature talent that the UFC has been targeting for either Dana White’s Contender Series or The Ultimate Fighter.
First reported by John Hyon Ko via Twitter, the Road to UFC will consist of four 8-man tournaments across the four smallest male divisions in the promotion (125-155). It will serve as the natural continuation of the UFC’s takeover of Asian MMA, following the founding of a Perfomance Institute in Shanghai, and the rise of Zhang Weili as the first champion from China.
While it has been noted that this series of tournaments shares a name with Road to the UFC: Japan from 2015, the Japanese version was more akin to a season of The Ultimate Fighter, minus the Fighter House, as it featured Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson as coaches, but only included eight fighters in one weight class.
Who, What, Where, and When is the Road to UFC?!?!
Acting as a taster for what is to follow at the UFC’s first ever Pay-Per-View in Asia at UFC 275 on June 12th, both events take place from June 9th-10th, with free entry to the Singapore Indoor Stadium for those attending.
Each day will feature ten bouts, two five-rounders between the featured talent, with the tournament bouts being the standard three. The winner of these five-round fights will be rewarded with a contract, similarly to DWCS. The winners of the first-round bouts will continue to the semi-finals, the date for which is yet to be announced.
Among those named to be competing in the tournaments are the 5-0 Hyun Sung Park, ONE Championship and WLF MMA veteran Keremuaili Maimaitituoheti, U23 World Champion Bantamweight Wrestler Rinya Nakamura, Road FC Bantamweight Champion Min Woo Kim, Shooto Featherweight Champion Keisuke Sasu, ONE and Pancrase veteran Koyomi Matsushima, and the undefeated Anshul Jubli. Be sure to keep an eye on these fighters once we hit the Road!
First Steps in the Road to UFC!
As noted, the featured five-round bout fighters will be competing for contracts, with all four winners being awarded a UFC deal. The first “Episode” (for as of yet unclear reasons, the first twenty bouts are split over two days and four episodes – all live) will feature a Lightheavyweight bout between 15-6 Mingyang Zhang, who finds himself on an eight-fight streak and ranked #1 at HW in China, and England born George Tokkos, the sitting Fury FC LHW Champion. This is sure to be a banger, as both men have a combined record of 22-8, and have only seen the judge’s scorecards thrice!
Episode 2 is headlined by Aussie Bantamweight and Eternal FC Champion Shaun Etchell and surging 5-1 (6-1 Amateur) 19-year-old Shooto phenom Takeru Uchida, who has won every fight by finish.
In the featured bout for Episode 3 (which will be aired on July 10th), we will see World Champion Kickboxer Josefine Knutsson, who trains at Allstars Training Center in Sweden along with Khamzat Chimaev and Alexander Gustaffson, face off against surging former Zeus FC Champion Ye Dam Seo. Episode 4 will see Korean Zombie MMA Welterweight Han Seul Kim and former URCC Welterweight Champion John Adajar sharing the Octagon.
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Featured image credit to Ultimate Fighting Championship