The semifinals of ROAD TO UFC aired live in Asia on Sunday, October 23 from the Etihad Arena on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. After two episodes of non-stop action, eight finalists in four divisions have emerged in this ground-breaking “win and advance” tournament.
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Kicking off the event was the first of two non-tournament bouts; Balajin showcased his hard striking, but Keisuke Sasu grappled for guillotines and it won him the unanimous decision. In the first lightweight tournament bout, Indonesia's sole semifinalist Jeka Saragih proved that Won Bin Ki's size was not an advantage in getting his second tournament finish: a first-round highlight reel-worthy KO.
The first flyweight semifinal between Qiu Lun and Seung Guk Choi was fast-paced and exciting; Choi's persistent takedowns were met by Qiu's kicks, leading to a close decision that went the way of Choi. In the first featherweight semifinal, Yi Zha and Koyomi Matsushima were incredibly aggressive in their striking and scrambles; the brilliant contest yielded Yi Zha as the split decision winner.
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The episode's opener, a non-tournament welterweight bout, saw Samandar Murodov against a more experienced opponent in Gian Siqueira. Still, he was able to get the submission in the final second of round one. The second lightweight semifinal featured India's sole representative Anshul Jubli versus Kyung Pyo Kim in a slugfest; Jubli's excellent boxing carried him to a split-decision victory.
In a highly anticipated flyweight bout, Topnoi Kiwram and Hyun Sung Park engaged in a firefight; Park got the advantage by taking Topnoi's back and was able to submit him with a rear naked choke in the first round. In the second bantamweight semifinal, Japanese countrymen Rinya Nakamura and Shohei Nose faced each other;. However, a wrestler by trade, Nakamura was completely dominant with his striking and TKOed Nose in the first round.
In the final fight of the event, the second featherweight semifinal, Jung Young Lee made another impressive showing by knocking out Lu Kai in under a minute of the first round.
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