Road to UFC offering Asian aspirants 'precious opportunity' to reach pinnacle of MMA

There is no doubt that the main attraction when UFC 275 goes down in Singapore on June 11 will be the title fights involving champions Glover Teixeira and Valentina Shevchenko, and challengers Jiri Prochazka and Talia Santos.

While that quartet represents stars that have already reached -- or are one step away from reaching the pinnacle of the sport -- the lead-up to the event will also feature fighters at the opposite end of the spectrum in Road to UFC.

The win-and-advance tournament will see top Asian prospects vie for a UFC contract across four men's divisions -- flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight -- with eight participants in each. The opening round starts on June 9-10.

South Korean Kim Min-woo, a 28-year-old in the bantamweight class who started his MMA journey learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai in 2006, believes Road to UFC offers an ideal platform for hopefuls to achieve their dreams.

"UFC is like the Olympics of MMA, where all the world's top fighters gather to determine who is best," Kim told ESPN. "All my work since I was a kid has been aiming towards the UFC only, and I think this is the same for all MMA fighters. ...

"I'm confident. If I can't win this tournament where there's only Asian fighters participating, I don't think I can thrive even if I somehow get to UFC. So I want to win this, sign a contract with UFC, and show everybody a good performance."

For Chinese flyweight competitor Qiu Lun -- nicknamed the "Tibetan Knight" -- the upcoming event offers the prospect of a better life not just for himself but those around him.

"It's very exciting. I'm going to take all three wins through to the final and I'm going to get that UFC contract," said the 24-year-old.

"I want to change my life and my family's life. Earning a UFC contract can help me accomplish that goal.

Qiu, who initially trained in sanda (Chinese kickboxing) before transitioning to MMA in 2015, has been focused on ensuring he is in peak condition heading into Road to UFC.

"I do MMA training in the morning, and hour of strength and conditioning, and MMA striking in the afternoon," explained Qiu, when asked about his preparations for the tournament.

"This is the top and best platform, so I am preparing for a fantastic fight. It's every athlete's dream to have a chance to earn a UFC contract and fight in the world-famous Octagon.

"It will be a dream come true to show my ability and fighting techniques to the world."