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Road to UFC 2: Predictions and Preview for Flyweight Semi Finals

LockerRoom Team
13 July 2023

UFC FIGHT NIGHT: HOLLOWAY vs. THE KOREAN ZOMBIE is fast approaching, scheduled to take place in just six weeks on August 26. Asia will witness an unforgettable live Saturday fight card featuring two exceptional featherweights. Ranked at No. 2, former title contender Max "Blessed" Holloway will go head-to-head with the No. 7-ranked contender, "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung.

But the excitement doesn't end there. On Sunday, the thrilling semifinals of ROAD TO UFC Season 2 will captivate fans. This exclusive tournament showcases the top MMA prospects from all over Asia as they vie for prestigious UFC contracts. With four divisions—flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight—the tournament promises action-packed showdowns. Among these divisions, flyweights have reigned supreme in Asia, enthralling audiences with their incredible speed, skills, and unwavering determination.

The Flyweight Story in the UFC

Notable flyweights like Japan's Tatsuro Taira, who recently achieved a career-defining victory at UFC 290, and China's Sumudaerji, currently ranked #12, marking the first UFC fighter of Tibetan ethnicity, have set the stage for an exhilarating future. Joining their ranks on the UFC roster will be ROAD TO UFC Season 1 winner Hyunsung Park from South Korea.

These exceptional athletes closely follow the tournament's progress and share their insights and predictions for their fellow flyweight hopefuls who have advanced to the crucial semifinals of ROAD TO UFC Season 2. The tournament's opening round took place on May 27 and 28 at the UFC Performance Institute Shanghai, where 32 martial arts athletes competed in each of the four men's weight classes. In the flyweight division (>56.7kg), four winners emerged and progressed to the semifinals:

A decorated national wrestler, 21-year-old Rei Tsuruya (7-0, fighting out of Chiba, Japan), will face the well-rounded tactician Mark Climaco (9-1, fighting out of Fremont, CA, USA, and representing the Philippines).

22-year-old Jiniushiyue, known as "Little King Kong" for his dedication to finishing fights (12-2, fighting out of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China), will square off against Seung Guk Choi (7-2, Seoul, South Korea), a well-rounded wrestler and finalist of Road to UFC Season 1.

UFC #12 flyweight Sumudaerji

"I'm paying a lot of attention to the flyweights in the tournament. I really like the style of Rei Tsuruya, as he’s young but super talented in wrestling and BJJ. He has a big chance to become a finalist.

"Jiniushiyue is my teammate. His next opponent is Choi, who fought another of my teammates Qiu Lun before. Qiu Lun, Jiniushiyue and I grew up together, so we shared our ideas with him on how to beat Choi. I think Jiniushiyue is more aggressive and well-rounded than Choi, and he will fight a very different fight than he did in the opening round. He will show the world that he's a finisher."

UFC flyweight Tatsuro Taira

"Rei Tsuruya and Mark Climaco have given the impression of being skilled in ground techniques and become more aggressive when they secure a top position and go for a submission. Therefore, the one who gets top position will have the advantage. I believe that Rei, with his great wrestling skill set, will take the top position, chip away with strikes such as ground and pound, and ultimately secure a submission to win.

"Based on their first-round performances, Jiniushiyue and Seung Guk Choi give the complete opposite impression of Rei versus Mark Climaco: they are more focused on striking. Choi made it to the final in Season 1, and I remember watching his fight at the UFC APEX in February because I fought on the same card. I believe he is a well-rounded fighter with excellent skills overall. However, based on Jiniushiyue's movement in the opening round, he has a slight advantage in aggressiveness and responsiveness."

UFC flyweight and ROAD TO UFC Season 1 winner Hyun-Sung Park

"My experience in ROAD TO UFC Season 1 was hard but also fun, I fought a lot in a short period of time, and I think I grew up a lot through this tournament. It was hard back then, but when I look back, it was fun and valuable experience. I enjoyed watching the opening round of Season 2 because there were a lot of flyweight fighters that I knew.

"I think Rei Tsuruya will beat Mark Climaco. He's a southpaw, he's better physically and better at wrestling than Mark, so I think he'll win in the grappling exchanges. Mark is also good at everything in MMA, so I'm looking forward to the fight! I think Rei Tsuruya will win the flyweight tournament.

"I think Seung Guk Choi will beat Jiniushiyue by decision. Based on my experience fighting Choi in the finals on Season 1, I think he is better overall than Jiniushiyue. However, the momentum of Chinese fighters is so good these days that I'm so excited to see this fight!"

Prepare for an adrenaline-fueled weekend as these exceptional fighters leave it all in the Octagon, vying for victory and the opportunity to cement their names among the MMA elite.

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