This Saturday, Road FC 40 plays host to the opening round of their $1 million lightweight tournament. The lucrative 16-man competition is the main draw, but the talent rich card also has high level fighters relegated to the prelims such as UFC vet Riki Fukuda, and Japan’s most decorated female boxer in Raika Emiko.
While the tournament roster may not have massive household names in the US, the talent pool is undeniable and the 16-man field is littered with UFC vets and champions from numerous organizations throughout the world. Almost everyone on the roster had fight once to make it to the tourney, with a handful of them even fighting twice in a day mini-tournaments to get seeded.
To get you familiar with each fighter, here’s a brief background on each of the competitors, with many of them also explaining in their own words why you should tune in.
Ronys Torres (34-5)
Accolades: Shooto Brazil champion, MMA Champions League champion
Rank: #1 LW competing in Brazil (Tapology), #5 LW from Brazil (Fight Matrix)
Torres had a very short UFC stint, dropping decisions to Jacob Volkmann and Melvin Guillard way back in Feb and March of 2010. He was with the UFC as a 23-year-old, and has now won 9 straight and 20 out of 22 bouts since. He’s won multiple titles since then, and has grown to be one of the biggest sports stars from the Amazonas in Brazil, along with Jose Aldo. It’s mind boggling how he was never asked back to the UFC, but their loss is Road FC’s gain, as the Nova Uniao product is now in his prime and likely one of the few favorites to win the million.
Torres on why you should watch the tournament: “Everyone should watch the ROAD FC tournament simply because it has some of the best lightweights of the world. It reminds me of the old historic PRIDE fights in Asia, and ROAD FC won't be different. It'll be spectacular and I'm very excited to fight here!”
Torres on why he’s the one to watch in the field of 16: “I bring a versatile style which is attractive for the MMA fans besides the great energy in my fights. To see the arena packed and know that thousands of fans around the world are seeing me fight on ROAD FC is exciting and I won't let you down!”
Shamil Zavurov (32-5-1)
Accolades: M-1 WW champion, Octagon FS WW champion
Rank: #3 LW competing in Russia (Tapology)
Zavurov is an Akhmat MMA product and has been a longtime training partner of Khabib Nurmagomedov for years. He campaigns in two divisions and is a former M-1 welterweight champ, who is one among the most famous and highly regarded fighters from the deep talent pool in Dagestan.
Zavurov on why he’s the one to watch in the field of 16: “I have had a great camp with the best teammates. I am going to show you a very aggressive performance.”
Mansour Barnaoui (14-4)
Accolades: BAMMA champion, M-1 champion
Rank: #1 LW from France (Fight Matrix), #2 LW competing in Eastern Europe (Tapology)
At just 24-years-old, Mansour has already established himself as one of the best talent from Europe by winning titles in BAMMA and M-1. The top prospect is looking to add the Road FC title, and a million dollars to that list of accomplishments.
Barnaoui on why he’s the one to watch in the field of 16: “I won my first tournament when I was 18. I won the BAMMA and M-1 lightweight belts. I thrive in tournaments, I am a true tournament fighter.”
Gleristone Santos “Toninho Furia” (33-6)
Accolades: Bitetti Combat champion
Rank: #8 LW from Brazil (Fight Matrix), No tapology rank because of Bellator bouts
Toninho was long considered as one of the top prospects out of Brazil. The 28-year-old has fought all over including Titan FC and Bellator, and also claimed the Bitetti Combat lightweight belt.
Shinji Sasaki (18-10-3)
Accolades: Shooto Pacific Rim champion
Rank: #2 LW competing in Korea (Tapology)
Sasaki is a long time veteran from Shooto, and has won their Pacific Rim title in the past. He has won 4 of his 5 Road FC bouts, with his only loss being a title challenge to current lightweight champ A Sol Kwon.
Leo Kuntz (18-3-1)
Accolades: Impact FC WW champion, CFX WW champion
Rank: No tapology rank because of recent UFC bouts
Kuntz is an ATT product and UFC veteran who was involved in Tae Hyun Bang’s infamous fight fixing scandal back in 2015. His first bout outside the UFC was with Road FC, where we defeated Hong Young Gi to qualify for this tournament.
Kuntz on why you should watch the tournament: “Never before has there been a tournament that has offered a $1,000,000 grandprize! 16 of the world's best fighters will be putting it all on the line in hopes of winning the life changing prize money, so there will be guaranteed action!”
Kuntz on why he’s the one to watch in the field of 16: “No matter what happens, when I fight, I leave it all in the cage! My fight is going to be a war between two skilled combatants. I have the best coaches, trainers, and training partners in the world!”
Yui Chul Nam (18-7-1)
Accolades: Road FC LW champion
Rank: #5 LW from Korea (Fight Matrix), No tapology rank because of recent UFC bouts
Nam is the former Road FC lightweight champion, prior to joining the UFC. After going 1-2 in almost 2 years with the promotion, he’s gone back to Road FC to try and regain the title he vacated.
Nam on why you should watch the tournament: “This is the most important tournament that has ever happened in Korea and the biggest prize to be given to lightweight fighters.”
Nam on why he’s the one to watch in the field of 16: “I am not here to be a former champion. I will be the champion again because I am willing to do or die.”
Shimoishi Kota (19-4)
Rank: #4 LW competing in Japan (Tapology), #5 LW from Japan (Fight Matrix)
Kota is a product of DEEP, Pancrase and Shooto, and has headlined quite a few of those events from Japan. He won a 4-man one-night tournament in DEEP to qualify for this.
Red Romero (12-6)
Accolades: URCC FW champion
Rank: #2 FW competing in South East Asia (Tapology), #6 LW competing in South East Asia (Tapology)
Romero is a star from the Filipino MMA scene. He’s a star of the URCC, where he once held the promotion’s featherweight belt. He won a 4-man one-night lightweight tournament in the URCC to qualify for this.
Dae Sung Park (6-1, 1 NC)
Rank: #4 LW from Korea (Fight Matrix), #7 LW competing in Korea (Tapology)
Park is a highly regarded young prospect from Korea. Since losing his debut 2013, he has gone on undefeated, with 5 wins in Road FC, including a win over popular BJJ black belt Rodrigo Caporal prior to joining the tournament.
Park on why you should watch the tournament: “There are many high level fighters coming to this tournament, so I think that ROAD FC is no different than UFC or Bellator.”
Park on why he’s the one to watch in the field of 16: “I don't care if you call me a 'bad boy' or swear at me or whatever, but you should watch me because I'm going to be the one keeping that tournament trophy and money from leaving Korea.”
Accolades: China National Sanda champion
Baoyincang is a Mongolian fighter, who is from the famed Xi’an Sports University in China. After success in the Sanda scene, he moved to MMA. With the language barrier (and just not caring about western sites) overall MMA records from China are almost never complete, but online databases have him at 10-3.
Tom Santos (6-4)
Accolades: Dragon Fight champion
Santos was just a late replacement to fight Nam Yui Chul in his return fight from the UFC. The Brazilian surprised everyone by pulling off an upset and knocking out the former Road FC lightweight champion. His big victory earned him a spot in the tournament.
Nandin-Erdene Munguntsooj (6-2)
Accolades: Mongolian kickboxing champion
Rank: #3 LW from Mongolia (Fight Matrix), #6 LW competing in Korea (Tapology)
Munguntsooj is a decorated kickboxer and boxer from Mongolia, who was picked up by Road FC in 2014. All of his bouts have been with the promotion, and his 4-fight winning streak that included a KO over Bruno Miranda has earned him a slot at the tournament.
Chang Hyun Kim (18-10)
Rank: #1 LW from Korea (Fight Matrix)
Kim is a product of the famed Team Mad gym from Busan that houses numerous UFC stalwarts. He recently beat TUF vet and Pancrase champion Andy Main to make it to the tournament.
Khuukhenkhuu Amartuvshin (5-3)
Rank: #2 LW from Mongolia (Fight Matrix)
Amartuvshin has fought in major MMA promotions in China, Hong Kong and Mongolia before ending up in Road FC where he beat BJJ star Rodrigo Caporal. He’s 2-0 with the promotion and earned a spot for himself in the tournament.
Elnur Agaev (13-7)
Agaev is a fighter who mostly fought in his home country of Russia. He won a 4-man one-day tournament in MFP to qualify for this event.
Notes: Rankings are based on fighters who are outside the UFC or Bellator; Regional ranks outside of Top 10 were not included.