Li Kaiwen will finally make his UFC debut next month. The Chinese featherweight has been trying to sign for the promotion for the past four years.
Kaiwen earned his shot by winning two fights out of two on the Road to UFC 145lbs tournament this year. Another victory at the Mercedez-Benz Arena on December 9th would guarantee him a contract.
At UFC Fight Night 234 he has been matched with countryman Yizha. He is two years younger than Kaiwen but much more experienced, probably because he has been fighting regularly throughout his career.
JUST MELTED HIM WITH PRESSURE! 🔥
— UFC (@ufc) May 27, 2023
Kaiwen (12-5) was a rising star with ONE Championship but decided he wanted to fight for the UFC instead. Unfortunately he still had a contract with the former and ended up sitting on the sidelines for two years.
When he did return he was stopped in a round by Fabricio Andrade on the undercard of a tape delayed event. He would miss another entire calendar year before joining Road to UFC in 2023.
Yizha (20-4) is competing in Road to UFC for the second year in a row. In 2022 he lost in the final and the former Wu Lin Feng featherweight champion will be determined not to fall at the final hurdle this time.
Snatches the arm! 💪
— UFC (@ufc) May 27, 2023
Three more Road to UFC tournaments will be concluding on December 9th. The winner of these fights will be guaranteed a long term contract and an official spot on the roster.
In the bantamweight division Long Xiao (26-7) takes on Chang Ho Lee (9-1). The Chinese fighter has been handed another opportunity after losing to Cristian Quiñonez on Dana White’s Contender Serie in 2021.
In the flyweight division undefeated Japanese star Rei Tsuruya (8-0) takes on China’s Jiniushiyue (13-2). The lightweight final has a similar theme with the unbeaten Shin Haraguchi (7-0) from Japan facing local favourite Rongzhu (24-5) .
Pouring it on for the last-minute finish! 😤
— UFC_Asia (@UFC_Asia) August 27, 2023
The UFC Fight Night 234 card appears to be complete although it isn’t clear what the main event will be. As previously announced Zhang Mingyang faces Brendson Ribeiro in a light heavyweight bout on December 9th.
He had been booked to face Tyson Pedro at UFC 284 in February but pulled out of that contest due to an undisclosed injury. Mingyang will finally be making his promotional debut nine month’s later on the back of a ten fight winning streak.
Meanwhile Sumudaerji is facing Allan Nascimento in a flyweight fight. The Chinese fighter returns to the octagon after a year long absence and has three wins and three losses from his previous six UFC fights.
ZHANG MINGYANG WITH THE HUGE UPSET 💥
— UFC (@ufc) June 9, 2022
The fight card features numerous Asian fighters. There is a strong Korean contingent with three fighters representing the country on the UFC Fight Night 234.
Also featuring will be Road to UFC flyweight tournament winner Hyun Sung Park. The Undefeated Korean has been matched with Shannon Ross.
A middleweight veteran from Korea is also in action. Jun Yong Park will be looking for his fifth straight UFC win when he takes on André Muniz.
— UFC (@ufc) February 5, 2023
Undefeated Japanese flyweight Tatsuro Taira will be looking to build on his exciting start to life in the octagon when he takes on Carlos Hernandez.
Nasrat Haqparast and Jamie Mullarkey were originally booked to face off in a lightweight fight at UFC 284. The Afghan pulled out but the bout has been rescheduled for December.