South Korean Jeong-Yeong Lee and China’s Yi Zha comprised the featherweight final of the Road to UFC tournament, with the bout taking place as part of Saturday’s UFC Vegas 68 preliminary card.
While Zha had a significant edge in experience, it was Lee riding the longer win streak into Saturday’s showdown, that had a UFC contract hanging in the balance. Lee had won his last six fights to start the night; Zha boasted 25 fights as a pro for his part, with three straight wins prior to UFC Vegas 68.
Right away in round one Lee landed a right hand forcing Zha to shoot in. Lee defended very well against the cage but Zha was not letting go. Zha eventually worked to the legs and got Lee down. Against the cage, Lee was able to eventually get back up but gave up his back. Lee defended perfectly and landed a few elbows to the side of the head of Zha. Zha was very strong in the clinch grinding away at Lee. Zha kept working on the takedowns but Lee showed perfect takedown defense. Lee finally got space but it was at the end of the round.
In round two, things started with pressure from Lee. It wasn’t long until Zha shot in on the legs to get the takedown. He jumped on the back which looked bad but Lee escaped. Lee landed a nice elbow on the break. Zha landed the biggest shot of the fight with a big right hand snapping the head back of Lee. Lee took it and then defended a takedown right after. Half way into the round Lee was looking tired. He still was landing some uppercuts while defending the takedowns. A little over a minute left Zha timed a shot very well getting the takedown. Lee landed an illegal up kick but the fight was restarted on the feet. The last little bit in the round not much happened.
In the final round, Lee had Zha in some trouble in the opening combination. Zha recovered and was still throwing well but it was always striking to wrestle. Lee would defend and push Zha away. Lee landed a big right hand that stunned Zha. Zha shot in and took the back but was too high and slipped off the back. Lee made the mistake of going for an armbar and lost position. He was able to get back up but Zha took him right back down. Lee did get back up and pressed but was taken down again right at the bell.
Going to the scorecards, the end result was a split decision favoring Jeong-Yeong Lee. He claims the Road to UFC featherweight crown.
It was close, but JeongYeong Lee is officially your #RoadToUFC featherweight contract winner! 👏
[ #UFCVegas68 | Live now on @ESPNPlus ] pic.twitter.com/WFSEeyWnsD
— UFC (@ufc) February 5, 2023
Official Result: Jeong-Yeong Lee def. Yi Zha by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)