Octagon Oracles: Rongzhu

Rongzhu hits a punching bag while wearing MMA gloves. Rongzhu will make his UFC debut this Saturday at UFC 261. Photo Credit: Instagram/rongzhu.mma

Crazy enough, Rongzhu has been in the sport for only five years and has already fought  20. He’s only 21-years-old and already has tons of experience. Along the way, he’s fought not great but at least decent competition. Rongzhu’s last loss came in early 2018 and since then he’s won his next ten fights. In his last fight, Rongzhu won the WLF Lightweight Champions. He’s fighting Rodrigo Vargas, who is 0-2 in the UFC and looking to get his first win. Vargas has come up short to Brok Weaver and Alex da Silva and is in dire need of a win.

Shawn Bitter

Grade: B+
Rongzhu is well-rounded and capable of finishing the fight wherever it goes. He fights long throwing a lot of kicks from the outside to maintain his range. He’s good at throwing his kicks up to the middle but really good at attacking the legs. Rongzhu stays active with kicks and mixes it up very well. He has solid footwork as well, dancing around on the outside and moving side to side while sticking and moving. Rongzhu will at times plant his feet and throw in the pocket. His head becomes stationary and it has caused him to get hit too much, but he has a heck of a chin.

Although he’s a talented guy on the feet, Rongzhu has wrestling capability as well. He’s not a great wrestler, but he has it in his back pocket. The ground and pound he brings to the table is outstanding. Not often will you see guys go body-head in the grounded strikes, but Rongzhu is one of the better fighters that does it. I like Rongzhu and I see a lot of potential especially because he’s so young. The only things that will hold him back is his takedown defense and getting hit too much.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Zac Herbison

Grade: C
It’s really hard to predict how Rongzhu will fare in the UFC. He’s fought exclusively in the Chinese regional scene, and mostly in WLF, a promotion aired on Chinese TV. This makes many of his fights inaccessible, and the caliber of his opponents hard to determine. What is available shows he’s a decent striker with good defensive instincts. He has busy movement, good cardio, doesn’t load up too much on his strikes, and can strike from either stance. He throws leg kicks often and generally backs out of range of his opponent’s strikes. His takedown defense holds up okay against his current competition, but he was submitted early in his career by Buren Wuliji, who had an awful UFC run. He actually has three submission losses, which is worrying, as he’s going to face much better grapplers in the UFC.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Tom Albano

Grade: B-
It’s always a treat to be excited for a fighter like Rongzhu. He brings good reasons to be hyped for his arrival at UFC 261. Rongzhu — who has mainly competed for WLF W.A.R.S. — is a very active fighter, competing in at least three fights each calendar year since his first MMA fight. In fact, he made his professional MMA debut in 2016 and competed five times in that year alone. He’s also a highly successful fighter and a winning one, entering this fight on a 10-fight win streak with nine finishes in that span. A product of the Enbo Fight Club, he is ranked the best lightweight fighter in China currently by Tapology. At 21-years-old, with speed, some impressive striking, and decent grappling ability — and plenty of time to improve his craft — it should be a good debut for Rong, and who knows what the future may hold?

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Joe McDonagh

Grade: B
Rong has 20 professional fights and is 21 years old. Nearly a fight per year on earth, insane. Rong has faced a wide range of competition, some winless opponents, but some legitimate tough competition. This includes a KO of UFC debutee Yolanda Sha. Rong has finished all but one win, and of his three losses, two came in the beginning of his career. I have Rong as a B for now because of how young he is, but that’s the most interesting part, we haven’t even seen close to his full potential.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion