Four out of seven South Korean fighters survived their first journey to the United States mixed martial arts organization UFC.
The UFC held the second season of Road to UFC on Nov. 27 and 28 at the UFC Performance Institute Shanghai in Shanghai, China. The Road to UFC is a competition that gives Asian fighters a chance to earn a UFC contract. Four weight classes (flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight) will compete in a quarterfinal tournament, with the winner earning a UFC contract. In the single-elimination non-tournament, fighters must impress to earn a spot in the Octagon.
In Season 1, two Korean fighters, Hyun Sung Park (flyweight) and Jung Young Lee (featherweight), won the tournament and signed with the UFC.
Season 2 featured nine Korean fighters. Seven competed in quarterfinal tournaments in their respective weight classes, while two participated in non-tournament matches. One fighter from each weight class advanced to the quarterfinals, including Choi Seung-guk (flyweight), Lee Chang-ho (bantamweight), Kim Sang-won (featherweight), and Kim Sang-wook (lightweight), who competed in the tournament on both days.
Kim Sang-wook, a “protégé” of UFC legend Kim Dong-hyun, got off to a fast start by defeating Kazuma Maruyama (JPN) with a rear-naked choke at 3:08 of the first round. Lee Chang-ho showed his class against Rana Rudra Pratap Singh (India), taking no punches and earning a first-round TKO victory. Kim Sang-won won a second-round TKO and Choi Seung-guk won a unanimous decision.
The highly anticipated ‘undefeated fighters’ Lee Jung-hyun (flyweight), Hong Seong-chan, and Ki Ki-bin (lightweight) had a bitter pill to swallow at the first gate. Ki-bin suffered an unusual ‘disqualification loss’. Midway through the second round of his bout against Bahaterborough Vatterborough (CHN), Ki-bin dropped his opponent with a back hand and then unleashed a flurry of punches, hitting him four times in the back of the head. Vatterborough was unable to continue, and the referee declared him disqualified.
Kim Hansul (Welterweight), who won a non-tournament bout last year, suffered a second-round TKO loss to Nualazi Tai Laker (CHN) in his second attempt. Sanghun Yoo (Welterweight) was down early in the third round to Chris Hoffman (Philippines). However, midway through the third round, he dropped his opponent with a flying knee kick followed by back-to-back knees and then finished him off with a flurry of punches.스포츠토토
After the fight, Yoo said, “I’m not aiming to be a UFC champion. My goal is the BMF championship belt that covers the real man,” he said, appealing to “Dana White (UFC President), please let me into the UFC.” The BMF was created by the UFC to recognize its toughest fighters, but it is not an official title.
In February, Park Hyun Sung and Lee Jung Young became the 19th and 20th Korean UFC fighters, respectively. It will be interesting to see if Road to UFC Season 2 will crown the 21st Korean fighter.