Road to UFC Preview: Bantamweight Tournament
Ahead of UFC 275, the UFC will host four tournaments featuring Asian MMA talent. The On the way to the UFC the tournaments will take place the weekend of UFC 275, leading into the pay-per-view event.
Below is an overview of the participants in the bantamweight tournament.
Long Xiao (24-7, Xin-Du Martial Arts Club, China) vs. Min Woo Kim (10-2, Marc, South Korea)
Keremuaili Maimeituoheti (26-10, Haoyue Fight Gym, China) vs. Toshiomi Kazama (9-2, Wajutsu Keishukai, Japan)
Gugun Gusman (8-3, Bandung Fighting Club, Indonesia) vs. Rinya Nakamura (4-0, LDH Martial Arts, Japan)
Wuliji Buren (20-8, UFC PI, China) vs. Shohei Nose (8-2-2, Master Japan, Japan)
Favorite: Wuliji Buren
Although he lost to another fighter in this eight man group, Wuliji Buren seems to be the favorite for several reasons. The first reason is that he is a UFC veteran who has been in the Octagon with Marlon “Chito” Vera, Jonathan Martinez and Rolando Dy. Although he didn’t win any of those fights, it was a good experience against some really tough fighters. Buren is best known for his ground game, where he has won 13 of his 20 career wins. He shouldn’t see any pressure under bright lights, since he’s been there before.
Longshot: Gugun Gusman
The only Indonesian in this eight-man bracket, Gugun Gusman seems to have the longest way to go. His opponents’ record in his three career losses is 9-7, and he’s finished in at least two of those fights. The One Pride veteran also faces a tough first-round opponent, which we will now discuss.
Dark Horse: Rinya Nakamura
Rinya Nakamura may be the least experienced fighter in this area of mixed martial artists, but he’s an intriguing guy on paper. He was a top amateur wrestler who was part of the Japanese national team, which means he will be the best wrestler in this tournament. This is a major skill to have. He’s also coming off a win in April over 30-fight veteran Aleandro Caetano, showing he can compete with experienced and seasoned veterans. When you consider that three of his four wins have come by knockout, including one by headbutt, that adds a dimension to Nakamura that could make him a major threat in this tournament.
Rest of the field
Long Xiao is another Contender Series veteran who is making his way into this tournament and is also likely among the favorites to win. He is one of the most experienced guys in a tournament that has some very seasoned fighters. He is known for his submission finishes, although he can also punch. His loss in the Contender Series went to Christian Quinonez, now a UFC roster member.
Another guy to watch in this tournament is Xiao’s opponent, Min Woo Kim. Kim has an excellent resume, including as a champion for the respected Road FC promotion in South Korea. That said, he hasn’t competed since 2019, which might leave some question marks.
Yet another guy who could cause waves, with his fights and ability to smash keyboards, is Keremuaili Maimeituoheti. The Chinese fighter is incredibly experienced and even boasts a win over our favorite for this tournament, Wuliji Buren, as well as another entrant in this tournament in Xiao. He is very complete and has won 17 victories by knockout or submission. Beware of this guy.
Toshiomi Kazama is another guy who will have a lot to prove here, especially as he just suffered a loss ahead of this tournament. That loss came to an opponent who was 2-2 and blasted him with a flying knee knockout. Kazama is a great grappler, so guys fighting him should avoid the mat.
Shohei Nose is a solid grappler who also has some professional kickboxing experience. He also flies under the radar here, however, he hasn’t fought nearly the level of competition or the amount of many guys in this area. He has a tough first test at UFC vet Buren.