Hong, who dropped a Split Decision setback in his promotional debut with the organization, has since rebounded with five consecutive victories, establishing himself as one of the promotion’s top talents in the process.
But, the Chinese fighter knows all too well that his sternest test to date awaits when he locks horns with Gashimov.
The Russian, perhaps, does not pale in comparison to some of Hong’s previous opponents, making this match-up the biggest of his career to date, and as one might assume, a step-up in competition as well.
Gashimov fights for the first time since being released by the UFC. He went 0-2 in the octagon against the division’s elite in John Lineker and Ivan Menjivar, but boasted a 7-1 run prior to that rough stretch.
Hong partook in five questions with Fight Sport Asia with regards to this weekend’s proceedings. Find out what he had to say (with the help of a translator) below leading up to fight night:
…on how he got into the fight game and started martial arts:
“I began to learn martial arts at a MA school out of interest when I was a kid. Later, I became fond of MMA and developed an interest to fight in the sport both in an appropriate and wise manner.”
…on what it means for him to compete in a reputable promotion like RUFF:
“I really appreciate RUFF providing Chinese fighters a fine platform to perform in. I’m basically striving for a belt in the 61kg/135-lbs division. It’s been a great start for me in RUFF and it’s just the beginning of my fighting career.”
…on facing Azamat Gashimov:
“I hope to fight him with each and every skill that I practice daily in my training. And I am looking forward to hitting him hard too. As he is a Russian fighter, I will have to enhance my skills against his wrestling accordingly.”
…on Gashimov being a step-up in competition and whether there’s any added pressure because of that:
“I always feel a little pressured from the fights and opponents.”
…on what he ultimately hopes to accomplish in RUFF:
“I just want to fight well. And I’ll strive to showcase an action-packed MMA fight for critics and fans. At the end of the day, I want to win a golden RUFF belt.”
Lü ZhenHong (7-2) locks horns with former UFC vet Azamat Gashimov (7-3) in the main event of RUFF 12 on Saturday, March 29th, at the Hongkou Indoor Stadium in Shanghai, China.
Click here to check out the full fight card for RUFF 12.
Thinesh John is a Singapore-based MMA writer. You can check out some of his work over onMMASucka.com. Follow him ( @ThineshJohnMMA), and be sure keep up with the latest Asian MMA news from FightSportAsia.com on Twitter ( @FightSportAsia) and Facebook