UFC senior fighter Ma Dong Hyun “Maestro” Ma has offered his support for Kim Sang Wook (29), who faces Long Zhu (23, China) in the semifinals of ROAD TO UFC Season 2.
Kim faces former UFC fighter Long Zhu in the lightweight (70.3 kg) semifinals of ROAD TO UFC Season 2 on Aug. 27 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for a ticket to the finals.
ROAD TO UFC is a quarterfinal tournament featuring Asia’s top prospects competing for a UFC contract. The semifinals will culminate fight week with “UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Korean Zombie” on Aug. 26 at the same venue.
Kim advanced to the semifinals after defeating Kazuma Maruyama (31, Japan) via first-round rear-naked choke submission in the opening round of ROAD TO UFC Season 2 on May 28 at UFC Performance Institute Shanghai in China.
His next opponent, Long Zhu, is a powerful striker who already has UFC experience (1-2). He trains with Song Yadong (25, China), the strongest bantamweight (61.2 kg) fighter in Asia. In his last fight, he finished South Korea’s Hong Sung Chan (33) with a right hook followed by ground and pound just 2:17 into the opening round. He is considered a strong contender this season.
“I think Long Zhu will win by decision, but I’m rooting for Kim Sang Wook,” said UFC lightweight veteran Ma Dong Hyun in his preview of the semifinal. “He’s a fighter who improves every time he fights, with good grappling and cage control, and he has good stamina, so he can make it tough for Long Zhu,” he said, adding, “I think he should look for a surprise submission when he’s tired.”
As for her opponent, Long Zhu, she said, “Her striking is incredible. I think his impact and timing are the best in the tournament. I think he’s the number one favorite because of his experience and record.”
“Since (finalist) Shin Haraguchi (24, Japan) is so small that his proper weight class looks like a featherweight or bantamweight, I think Long Zhu will finish him with strikes in the third round and win the title.”
Last season’s lightweight tournament winner, Anshul Jubli (28, India), also agreed that Longjoo would defeat Haraguchi in the final.
Former UFC lightweight champion Hafael dos Anjos (38, Brazil) believes that Kim will need to be wary of Longju’s early pressure. “Longju is an experienced fighter with many finishes and will start the fight strong,” he said. “To win, Kim will need to be prepared to withstand the pressure.”
Ma Dong-hyun is a paraplegic after undergoing surgery for a herniated disc in his neck in March and has been working hard to rehabilitate. Recently, he began walking on his own two legs, a miracle for the fans who supported him. 스포츠토토
Ma made his UFC debut in 2015 at “UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Masvidal” in Seoul, South Korea, when he stepped in as a replacement for the injured Lim Hyun Gyu, 38. He went 3-5 in his four-year UFC career. He earned a second-round TKO victory over former Pride FC legend Takanori Gomi (44, Japan).
As a direct UFC competitor, he believes ROAD TO UFC, a sort of UFC Asia qualifier, is a great opportunity for Asian mixed martial arts (MMA) prospects. “I think going through ROAD TO UFC is a great way to get validated and get your name out there in front of UFC officials and Asian fans,” he said, “and there’s a lot of anticipation for how well an Asian fighter will perform on the main stage of the UFC.”