“Aoriqileng is one of my favorite fighters…he’s a go-getter. He’s someone that isn’t scared of anything, and that’s great to see. I don’t know where that comes from, but wherever it is, it’s working for him.”
Those are the words of Gavin Pratt from the UFC Peformance Institute in Shanghai, China, describing one of the UFC’s newest flyweights. Singed from the UFC Academy Combine alongside Liang Na and Rongzhu, he'll join his countrymen in making their promotional debuts Saturday on the early prelims of UFC 261.
Dean Amasinger, also of the Performance Institute, agrees, noting the arc of Aoriqileng’s improvement since he began training in the state-of-the-art facility.
“The difference from him from the day he stepped on the mats to where he is now is balck and white; two completely different fighters. That’s been really impressive to watch. He’s always had that striking ability, but he was a bit more of a brawler before. Now he’s a lot more technical. He’s one of the best athletes out of the whole group.”
That’s a potentially scary prospect. Known as the "Mongolian Murderer," Aoriqileng was already riding an impressive six-fight win streak in WLF as he entered the combine. His 18-6 professional record boasts wins over experienced journeymen like Kana Hayatt and Carlos Azevedo. He’s been ranked pound-for-pound among the best bantamweights in China.
Now at 27 years of age and entering his prime, he brings his white-hot skill set to the UFC volatile flyweight division where a new and emerging group of talents is circling the waters around champion Deiveson Figueiredo. Although accomplished at bantamweight at home in China, Aoriqileng always considered himself small for the weight class and prefers his chances ten pounds lighter at 125.
He’ll test that theory starting with Jeff Molina in the second fight of the evening this Saturday in front of a capacity crowd in Jacksonville. The 8-2 Molina is an alum ot the 2020 season of Dana White’s Contender Series, hasn’t lost since 2017 and like Aoriqileng will be making his promotional debut.
“I like him. His style is very similar to mine,” he told John Hyon Ko at South China Morning Post recently. “We are very aggressive fighters, so I like this type of opponent.”