RUFF light heavyweight Zhao ZiLong, a two-time national Sanda titleholder, is among the contenders wanting to claim China’s first MMA title at the 2013 RMB 1,000,000 Super Fight.

Without a doubt this would add something to his already impressive accolades. If he has any chance of achieving this dream he must first face Kong HanDong on December 22, 2012, at Nanjing’s WuTaiShan Indoor Stadium, for RUFF 7.

Zhao is one of China’s highest esteemed MMA and Sanda fighters from the past decade. His strikes and kicks are the stuff of legend. Opponents know they will not have it easy when they face him. Yet, many claim the greatest testament to his warrior spirit came in a time of defeat to Li JiXiang at RUFF 5. It was a time of intense personal darkness for Zhao.

“My father was hospitalized, and grandmother passed away before the beginning of the fight,” recollects Zhao. “My mind went blank, I felt very sad, and only wanted to complete the fight as soon as possible.”

Zhao battled through three intense rounds in his hometown of Hohhot while trying to use the emotional moment in his life as fuel to defeat his opponent. Li constantly delivered staggering punches to Zhao’s head. Zhao was able to land plenty of heavy blows of his own but the unanimous decision fell to Li. However, Zhao has the opportunity to face him in a rematch at the Super Fight in February, 2013.

“I was the Sanda champion [in 2002], and everyone wants to know if I can still fight on the arena stage,” comments Zhao. “If I can reach the final, it will be an affirmation for the efforts I have been making in these years.”

Zhao and Kong are relative opposites. Zhao’s stand-up game is undoubtedly the more refined of the two, but Kong’s training with Jiang LongYun has proven to his advantage in the ground game. Zhao is also a well-known fighter whereas Kong is not. Kong, aware that Zhao is expected to win the fight, has not divulged a sense of disparagement or uneasiness.

“I’m a grass-roots fighter, so I have nothing to lose,” explains Kong. “No matter what the result is, I’ll be happy.”

Kong has not won a match in the RUFF cage as of yet. He was defeated at RUFF 4 by Li JiXiang via TKO and his last match was ruled no contest. Kong is undoubtedly hungry and will more than likely do his best to take the game to the ground for a submission.

These men will have to rely on more than their training. Sure, Kong may have attempted more submissions than anyone else in the light heavyweight division and Zhao may have one-hit knockout power in his corner, but the deciding actor will more than likely rest on the desire for the win and the heart of the fighter. The competitor wanting this win will push himself far beyond what others could imagine. It helps push through pain and the nagging thought to give up and let the other man win.

“In my life, I am most afraid that my loved ones get sick and there is no progress in my career,” offers Zhao ZiLong, aware that he has already endured beyond his greatest fears. “I can not have too many ideas in the cage, I have to focus on the fight.”

Zhao and Kong will star in RUFF:Journey, the 10-part reality series that made its debut on November 27, 2012. It broadcasts across China weekly until the Super Fight. The light heavyweight eliminator between Zhao ZiLong and Kong HanDong will air live at RUFF 7 on December 22, 2012.


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