Despite only being 25, Haraguchi has already established himself as one of MMA's hottest prospects out of Japan. Born in Kagoshima, Japan, the credentialed amateur wrestling standout made his professional debut in late 2021. He represents BRAVE gym out of Misato, Japan, and has collected five knockouts in his brief career thus far.
Haraguchi's freestyle wrestling accolades include being the Emperor's Cup winner as well as being named to the Asian Championship Japan National Team. His base helped him develop a smothering takedown game and eventually, furious punching power. Given his skill level, regional success was nothing short of a forgone conclusion for Haraguchi. Securing the Grachan lightweight title set him up for an opportunity on RTU season two.
He made the best of his chance and collected two impressive wins on the show including a second-round TKO stoppage over Windri Patilima and then a unanimous decision victory over Jae-Hyun Park. Haraguchi used his grappling quite effectively in the latter contest, collecting over 12 minutes of control time.
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Haraguchi's success is that he's quite undersized for lightweight. Standing at only 5'6", Haraguchi is certainly one of the weight class's smaller fighters. This makes the fact his wrestling and control have proven so dominant on the regional scene all the more special. It will be interesting to see how his style transitions should he reach the elite level of competition offered by the UFC.
Shin Haraguchi will fight Rong Zhu on the Road to UFC finale
He has his work cut out for him however in taking on the much taller and experienced Zhu.
Despite a previously unsuccessful 1-2 run in the UFC, The 23-year-old Zhu fought his way back to the promotion and had a similarly impressive RTU run. Zhu has already had quite an extensive career as he holds a 24-5 record with a whopping 20 finishes.
Both combatants certainly have much to prove and gain as they look to establish themselves in arguably the UFC's most competitive weight division. Will Zhu secure his second UFC opportunity? Or will the newcomer Haraguchi prove why he is one of Japan's most hyped young prospects? Find out on the RTU season 2 finale.