For years, Korean organization ROAD FC has been showcased phenomenal talent from Korea and Japan, expanding to include other more international talent. In addition to being a premier destination for up and coming fighters in the region, some have gone on to fight on a larger stage in the UFC.
Currently finishing up their lightweight tournament, now they’ve announced an openweight Grand Prix featuring some heavy hitters and some bizarre but fun contestants.
Set to take place at the Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the first contestant announced was the absolutely massive Aorigele. Dubbed the “Heavyweight Supernova”, he’s got a 6-3 record and some rather odd shenanigans that have taken place in the cage, like being hospitalized after a brutal low blow that led to excessive vomiting. He also fought Bob Sapp, in what was predictably a Bob Sapp fight, as well as a “should probably be retired” Kazuyuki Fujita. All of his wins are finishes due to strikes.
The most well-recognized of the group so far is “Huggy Bear” himself, Chris Barnett. Barnett’s been training at Jackson/Winklejohn, and bringing his Super Heavyweight physique with Taekwondo credentials to make for a very unorthodox and fun style to watch. Despite losses to Oli Thompson, Kirill Sidelnikov and former UFC fighter Alex Nicholson, he holds wins over Travis Wiuff, Kenny Garner, and current UFC fighter Walt Harris.
Next up is Wu Lahan, a 6’5 Chinese Sanda champion that’s only 30 years old, and recently picked up a win in ROAD this past November. Lahan is currently undefeated at 5-0 in MMA, and defeated Ikuhisa Minowa (yes, Minowaman!) under Ganryujima rules in 2015. That remains his signature win, and a testament to the brilliance of moat fighting.
Jae-Hoon Kim may be 0-3, but ROAD sees something in him as the 5’11 Korean fighter will also be in the tourney. Kim has already fought Aorigele, losing by TKO in a very controversial finish that required heavier intervention than usual on the part of Herb Dean. All three of his fights have been first round TKO losses.
Representing Romania is Judoka and kickboxer Alexandru Lungu. With a 16-4 MMA record, he’s mostly fought opponents that do not have winning records. His last two wins have been over opponents with records of 4-10 and 4-6. He appears to be in much better shape these days, and has wins over Tom Erikson in 2008, Ruben Villareal in 2009, and a wild upset knockout win over Mighty Mo in 2014.
Three more spots are open for the 8-man tournament, which have not been announced as of yet. As per their announcement image, there should be another slot for an American fighter, a French representative, and a combatant from Australia/New Zealand. It’s not unreasonable to expect Siala-Mou Siliga, a.k.a. “Mighty Mo” to make an appearance, as he’s the winner of the 2016 ROAD openweight tournament and currently the openweight champion under their banner.
The opening round kicks off on May 12, live from Beijing. You can expect the event to be streamed live via their YouTube channel.