UFC’s two-night “Road to UFC” tournament series, which sets the stage for Saturday’s UFC 275, kicked off this morning with nine fights spread over two episodes. We’ve broken the results down for you below.
205 lbs.: Zhang Mingyang vs. George Tokkos (Non-Tournament)
These two certainly started things strong with a one-round war. Zhang, a +450 underdog, badly hurt Tokkos with a counter right in the opening minute before letting him off the hook by tying up. The next several minutes saw Zhang stalk Tokkos as the latter circled along the fence, a chase punctuated with bursts of heavy firepower on both sides. Though neither showed a particular fondness for defense, it was Tokkos who wound up paying the price thanks to a vicious overhand right that folded him Cro Cop-Gonzaga style around the four-minute mark.
125 lbs.: Seung Guk Choi vs. Rama Supandhi
An initially competitive fight that steadily swung in one direction. Choi, an acolyte of the Korean Zombie who walked out to the latter’s signature tune, looked to pressure as they exchanged power shots and low kicks. Supandhi kept pace and exploited Choi’s lack of head movement to land some good straight lefts, but accumulated damage to the calf had him slowing by the end of the first.
Some overeager takedown attempts in the second led to Choi taking top position and chipping away for the rest of the round, and the third followed a similar pattern outside of a too-little-too-late surge from Supandhi. Choi advanced with a sweep on all three scorecards.
135 lbs.: Maimaitituoheti Keremuaili vs. Toshiomi Kazama
A highly competitive and entertaining battle between the power of Maimaitituoheti and the suffocating, unorthodox grappling of Kazama. Though Maimaitituoheti got in his licks, it was Kazama who controlled the action, refusing to give Maimaitituoheti as he looked for trips from the clinch. Kazama hit his fair share of innovative takedowns and took dominant positions, but proved just as much a handful off of his back, constantly threatening to elevate, chase leglocks, or sweep from deep half guard.
Though Maimaitituoheti did enjoy a long stretch of top control in the third and shut down Kazama’s sweeps, Kazama’s technical prowess and constant activity earned him two 30-27s and a 29-28.
155 lbs.: Jinnosuke Kashimura vs. Won Bin Ki
Kashimura hit the scales at 152 pounds for this fight and looked massively outsized, but looked for an early finish with an armbar and leglock sequence. Ki managed to weather the storm and counter subsequent takedown, then survive a flying triangle attempt. When Kashimura went back to the leglocks, Ki responded with a torrent of heavy elbows that ended things in the waning seconds of the first.
It was an admirable effort for Kashumura, a late replacement, but Ki was just too much. Ki will, however, have to deal with an ugly cut above his left eyebrow from a clash of heads.
145 lbs.: Yi Zha vs. Keisuke Sasu
Sasu found some early success with a flying knee and combinations, but Yi turned things around the moment he managed to tie up. After some solid clinch shots and a couple of takedowns, Yi found his way onto Sasu’s back and locked up the RNC seconds later. Hugely impressive performance from the 25-year-old.
135 lbs.: Min Woo Kim vs. Xiao Long
The opening bout was actually a walkover, as Xiao withdrew due to illness. Having successfully made weight, Kim advances to the semis.
125 lbs.: Shaun Etchell vs. Takeru Uchida (Non-Tournament)
The 19-year-old Uchida went right for the takedown, only for Etchell to land on top in side control. Etchell’s attempt to take the back allowed Uchida to slip free and chase his own back take. Etchell countered to take top half guard, but Uchida capitalized on another overeager pass to take the back, survive a slam, and wrap up the RNC to secure a massive upset.
155 lbs.: Jeka Asparido Saragih vs. Pawan Maan Singh
Saragih dragged Maan to the mat early on when the latter tried to slow things down in the clinch. Though he couldn’t find the americana finish, he starting racking up real damage as Maan tried to stand. When he scored another quick takedown to start the second, Maan responded with a flagrant elbow to the back of the head that earned him a point deduction.
Saragih got back on top seconds later and went back to dropping punches, only for Maan to use a leglock attempt to grab a rear body lock and stand. Maan found a bit of momentum, only to get floored by a body kick early in the third. When he tried to respond with punching flurries and takedown attempts. Saragih smashed him with a beautiful spinning back fist to punch his ticket to the semis.
125 lbs.: Qiu Lun vs. Wallen Del Rosario
A decently competitive fight early, but while Del Rosario had a bit of early success with his speed and wrestling, the last two rounds were all Qiu. His height, reach, and technical striking let him control the action without much resistance. His southpaw roundhouse kicks were particularly potent, especially to the body and legs, and he did some good work with combination punching as well.
Del Rosario seemed defeated well before the final bell rang, throwing very little and only occasionally trying a takedown. Qiu swept the cards and moves into the semis with no real damage.
145 lbs.: Jun Young Hong vs. Koyomi Matsushima
The first half of the first round was almost a purely striking affair, pitting the somewhat more refined striking of Hong against the offbeat swings of Matsushima. Matsushima tried to drag things into the grappling later in the round, but while he wasn’t initially successful, he did hurt Hong with a flying knee out of nowhere and score a late takedown.
Hong came back to sting Matsushima with a straight right to start the second, but Matsushima’s wrestling consistently bailed him out. Hong appeared to struggle with the pace, allowing Matsushima to both land solid punches and score regular takedowns.
Hong found a second wind, though, nearly landing an RNC late in the second and cracking Matsushima in the third. Unfortunately, Matsushima converted a failed takedown into a sweep, then hit a slick throw to land on top in side control after they returned to their feet. He never gave Hong an opportunity to break away for the rest of the round.
One idiot judge gave Hong two rounds, but the others rightly scored it a sweep for Matsushima.
Tune in at 2:30 a.m. ET tomorrow morning for the next two episodes.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 275 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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