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With the quarter-finals of the UFC’s ‘Road to UFC: Singapore’ tournament a few weeks behind us, it is time to look forward to the semi-final matchups. The quarter-finals aired earlier this June, and proved that Asia truly does have some great prospects coming up. It was awesome to see MMA being developed in more countries such as Indonesia, India and Thailand. Road to UFC may also build the foundation for future stars, with Zhang Mingyang being signed to the UFC after a first round knockout. I still cannot forget Topnoi Kiwram’s hilarious walkout and actions inside the cage. 

As for the semi-finals, information seems to be scarce. There are rumours that the semi-finals will take place at UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai. Others suggest in the days before UFC 281 in Abu Dhabi, similar to the build up to UFC 275. However, the UFC has made public that the finals will take place on the prelims of a fight night in December. Personally, I wish we see the finals on the prelims of a pay-per-view card, for more exposure. 

With information of when or where the semi-finals take place being scarce, and perhaps unreliable, the same goes for the semi-finals match ups. In the live broadcast on UFC Fight Pass, a tournament bracket was shown, of which I am following to make this article. This tournament bracket has been replicated on to the ‘Road to UFC: SIngapore’ Wikipedia page, which can be found HERE.

 

FLYWEIGHT SEMI-FINALS:

 

SEUNG GUK CHOI (5-1) vs. QIULUN (15-8)

Both semi-final Flyweight matchups are very hard to predict. Seung Guk Choi is a South Korean prospect under the tutelage of UFC legend ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung. On the other hand, Chinese prospect Qiulun has been on the UFC’s radar for some time now. I expect Qiulun to grapple, which will show us the level of Seung Guk Choi’s ground game. This matchup is very competitive and I expect it to go all three rounds. At the moment I will lean towards Qiulun.

 

TOPNOI KIWRAM (8-3) vs. HYUN SUNG PARK (6-0)

I love watching Topnoi Kiwram’s performance on Episode 3. His walkout is hilarious as he stares at the camera multiple times, and even during the fight he yells something at the audience. His personality really stands out and I can see him becoming popular in the UFC. However, his opponent Hyun Sung Park is not to be overlooked. He showed decent power for a flyweight, finishing his opponent in the first round by knockout. Kiwram is also a very talented striker, with experience in Muay Thai. I expect both fighters to throw heavy on the feet, but I must side with Topnoi Kiwram. He defeated Yuma Horiuchi in his quarter-final bout, and Horiuchi was one of my picks to win the tournament.

BANTAMWEIGHT SEMI-FINALS:

 

MIN WOO KIM (10-2) vs. SHOHEI NOSE (9-2-2)

If you don’t recognise the name Min Woo Kim, that’s okay. He didn’t actually fight in the quarter-finals as his opponent Long Xiao pulled out due to an injury. Even then, Kim hasn’t fought since 2019. He is primarily a striker, with a background of Muay Thai, Kickboxing and also BJJ. His opponent Shohei Nose is a very talented submission ace. All 6 of his submission wins have come in the first round. I am wary of Min Woo Kim’s long layoff, but I do have to side with him in this fight. I see him as a well-rounded fighter. 

 

RINYA NAKAMURA (5-0) vs. TOSHIOMI KAZAMA (10-2)

This fight may as well be the finals. I believe that these two, win or lose, will both end up in the UFC at some point. Rinya Nakamura truly does impress me. He may be inexperienced in MMA, but you can’t overlook his world championship wrestling achievements. On the other hand, Toshiomi Kazama is also a great grappler, with a strong Judo base. Rinya Nakamura has been my pick to win the tournament from the start. I will continue to side with him here. A very talented prospect, with a very bright future – Hopefully with the UFC.

 

FEATHERWEIGHT SEMI-FINALS:

 

LU KAI (8-3) vs. JUNG YOUNG LEE (8-1)

Lu Kai proved me wrong in his last outing against Angga Hans. He looked good everywhere, and won by decision. However, Jung Young Lee may have impressed me even more. He submitted Dana White’s Contender Series alumni Bin Xie in 36 seconds. The truth is that I wasn’t very high on Lu Kai coming into the tournament as he didn’t impress me very much on the regional scene. Jung Young Lee has quickly become one of my favourites to win the tournament. I will pick Lee to win by finish.

 

KOYOMI MATSUSHIMA (13-5) vs. ZHA YI (20-3)

Coming into the featherweight tournament, Koyomi Matsushima was my pick to win the tournament. He may not have the cleanest record of the bunch, but Matsushima has fought some killers at Pancrase and ONE FC. However he may face his toughest challenge yet in Zha Yi. Matsushima likes to keep the fight on the feet, where Yi excels in grappling. In a  fight that seems impossible to predict, I must still side with my early favourite in Koyomi Matsushima. However I am not confident after watching both performances.

 

LIGHTWEIGHT SEMI-FINALS:

 

WON BIN KI (16-7) vs. JEKA SARAGIH (11-2)

Won Bin Ki provided one of the most replayed moments of ‘Road to UFC’, when he called out UFC Lightweight contender Justin Gaethje in his post fight speech. Admittedly, that would be a cool scrap… just not right now. Ki did win by first round TKO but it was over an opponent that took the fight on literally 3 days notice. Won Bin Ki is huge for the lightweight division, and has also fought some high level competition on the regional scene. His opponent Jeka Saragih scored Indonesia’s only win of the tournament over India’s Pawan Maan Singh. I believe Won Bin Ki is better everywhere than Saragih. With 10 knockouts on his record, I think that Ki will score another knockout in his semi-final bout.

 

ANSHUL JUBLI (5-0) vs. KYUNG PYO KIM (11-3)

Anshul Jubli is another fighter who didn’t fight in the quarter-finals due to his opponent pulling out. Arguably the brightest prospect out of India, Jubli is undefeated as both an amateur and a pro. There is no doubt that he will face his toughest test when he fights Kyung Pyo Kim. Kim’s quarter-final bout lasted only 30 seconds, when he knocked out Asikerbai Jinensibieke. Kyung Pyo Kim is the more proven fighter to me, and so he will be my pick. Perhaps we will even see another knockout.

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