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  • Writer's pictureChris Presnell

Road to UFC S2 Finals results: Non-stop action awards three UFC contracts

Updated: Feb 4

Road to UFC S2 Finals poster

The second season of Road to UFC comes to an electric end...with one more fight hanging in the air.

While the bantamweight final has been postponed to later this year, the flyweight, featherweight, and lightweight finals unfolded in style at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Three new fighters from Asian countries- two from China and one from Japan- won UFC contracts with their win.

In the flyweight final, China's Jiniushiyue (13-3) fought Japan's Rei Tsuruya (9-0) in a battle of super-young prospects. Tsuruya immediately looked to clinch and take the fight to the mat, but Jiniushiyue defended and popped Tsuruya with jabs and powerful straight left for his troubles.

However, a trip from Tsuruya brought the fight to the mat where Tsuruya was all over Jiniushiyue. Locking in a body triangle, the Chiba, Japan, native attempted a spine-wrenching twister as Jiniushiyue turned to escape the hold. While surviving, the result left Tsuruya on Jiniushiyue's back reigning down heavy blows.

Referee Mark Smith didn't like the damage and called the fight with one second left in the round, awarding Tsuruya the ninth win of his pro career in as many fights and a UFC contract.

In the featherweight final, it was China vs. China as former teammates Yizha (25-4) and Li Kaiwen (12-6) met at the UFC octagon at the Apex. As expected, Yizha used his striking to set up clinchwork and takedowns, although Li's defenses held up strong.

What shocked many onlookers was a trip from Li Kaiwen that brought the fight exactly where Yizha wanted it- the mat. Just like in his opening round fight against Wuziazibieke Jiahefu, Yizha quickly threw up an armbar off of his back, rolling to his belly and summoning the verbal submission from Li.

After six straight fights in the Road to UFC tournament (Yizha also appeared on season one), the ethnic Tibetan had finally realized his dream of becoming a UFC fighter.

The lightweight final between Shin Haraguchi and Rongzhu finished a long day of fights in the UFC Apex. A fascinating collision of opposing styles saw Shin Haraguchi (7-1), an exceptional wrestler, attempt nearly every trick in the book to get Rongzhu (25-5) to the mat.

For the most part, Rongzhu saw it coming. Sprawl after sprawl from the Enbo Fight Club representative gave Rongzhu the opportunity to land counters throughout the fight and outstrike his Japanese foe. Haraguchi would not relent, however, as the takedown attempts continued with occasional success.

The tide would swing hard in Rongzhu's favor when he began to time the knee strike to the takedown entry, clocking Haraguchi hard in round two. Round three saw the damage pile higher and higher on Haraguchi, and Rongzhu was able to lock in the rear naked choke to a kneeling Haraguchi to illicit the tap.

Rongzhu re-enters the UFC at just age twenty-three.

The full Road to UFC results are below, with the delayed bantamweight final between Xiao Long and Lee Chang Ho expected to take place in May.


    UFC Fight Pass (8:30pm)

Lightweight Tournament Final: Rongzhu def. Shin Haraguchi via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:06 in R3

Featherweight Tournament Final: Yizha def. Li Kaiwen via Submission (Armbar) at 3:03 of R1

Flyweight Tournament Final: Rei Tsuruya def. Jiniushiyue via TKO (Ground and Pound) at 4:59 of R1

The Road to UFC S2 Finals takes place on February 3rd, 2024, at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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