Road to UFC: Episode 1 Breakdown and Predictions

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George Tokkos
George Tokkos (left), Bellator 246 Credit: Lucas Noonan/Bellator MMA

It’s been a while since the UFC put on any sort of tournament outside of The Ultimate Fighter, but that will change this week. Road to UFC goes down in Singapore ahead of UFC 275, with four men’s divisions featured: Flyweight, Bantamweight, Featherweight, and Lightweight.

It’s win and advance, with the winner in each weight class getting a shot at the UFC. The opening round will feature four installments, each featuring one fight in each weight class and a single non-tournament bout.

Not sure who’s who out of the Asian prospects featured, including fighters representing China, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and more? We’ve got you covered!

Featherweight: Yi Zha Vs. Keisuke Sasu

Tale of the Tape

Yi Zha
Aba, Sichuan, China
25-years-old
5’7″
19-3
No win streak
Keisuke Sasu
Kanagawa, Japan
27-years-old
5’7″
9-1-1
7-fight win streak

Pros and Cons

Yi Zha

Pros

  • Good ground and pound
  • Strong wrestling
  • Submission threat
  • Scrambles really well
  • Light footwork
  • Good output
  • Fast starter
  • Good off his back

Cons

  • Questionable chin
  • TDD needs a little work

Keisuke Sasu

Pros

  • Solid wrestling
  • Excellent trip takedowns
  • Hits hard
  • Physically strong
  • Good back take

Cons

  • Flat-footed
  • Lacks head movement
  • TDD needs work

Prediction: Both these fighters are good prospects but to me, only one really stands out, that being the younger Yi Zha. Sasu is more of a wrestler and although he is the more physical athlete, Zha is slicker.

On the feet, Zha is faster, has better footwork, better kickboxing, and is even better defensively. Zha has been dropped in a few of his fights but Sasu doesn’t have the closing speed to do that. If he does connect I’m not confident he has the closing ability to put the fight away. As a wrestler I strongly favor Zha. Most of the takedowns from Sasu come from the clinch and Zha can wrestle from all areas.

The biggest factor is the jiu-jitsu of Zha. Zha is much better at moving into dominant positions and creating scrambles. He’s a much better submission grappler and can make if difficult for Sasu even if he was on top. I like Zha as he has more weapons and is better everywhere.

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