Reviewing the Best MMA Fights of the Weekend – Volume 6
The Main Event
Dong Hyun Kim def. John Hathaway
Dong Hyun Kim shined in the main event. He was simply too much for the oft-injured John Hathaway. Kim’s approach to this fight was a bit surprising as most felt he would have the advantage on the ground, yet Kim chose to stand and bang with Hathaway. Kim seems to be well aware of his striking power following his recent KO victory over Erick Silva. All props to go Kim for this signature victory. Had he gone out and just won a 5-round decision, the MMA world would probably have not paid much attention, but Kim has made the UFC and its fans take notice.
Zhang Lipeng def. Wang Sai
Matt Mitrione def. Shawn Jordan
Hatsu Hioki def. Ivan Menjivar
Wang Sai was the more hyped up fighter coming into the TUF China Welterweight final opposite Zhang Lipeng. I didn’t know much about either fighter beyond what I read about their fight recaps on TUF. Lipeng looked to be the physically superior fighter at weigh-ins, but that’s not the best predictor for fight performance. Both fighters put on a spirited effort, and it was a close fight overall. I was leaning towards Sai taking the decision as did many of the fans and fellow web sites providing play-by-play coverage. Nonetheless, both these fighters are going to have a difficult time winning fights at the UFC level.
Matt Mitrione’s MMA career still has some hope following his 1st round KO of Shawn Jordan. Mitrione has fallen short against stiffer competition thus far in his career, and while Jordan may not have been a Top 15 fighter, he was a dangerous opponent with recent wins over Mike Russow and Pat Barry. Mitrione probably will never have the well-rounded package of skills necessary to be an elite fighter, but he will certainly receive another opportunity to prove himself against guys like Gonzaga and Rothwell.
Hatsu Hioki did exactly what he was projected to do, which was defeat Ivan Menjivar. Hioki showed good ground control for the first couple of rounds, and showed excellent poise surviving a late attack from Menjivar. Despite the win, Hioki finds himself no closer towards entering title contention. He has completely underwhelmed in his UFC tenure, and expectations need to be lowered for the former DREAM star.
Yui Chul Nam def. Kazuki Tokudome
Vaughan Lee def. Nam Phan
Wang Anying def. Albert Cheng
Mark Eddiva def. Jumabieke Tuerxun
Yui Chul Nam and Kazuki Tokudome delivered a fight worth remembering. Both guys nearly scored finishes, and each showed tremendous heart throughout the fight. Nam, for those that don’t remember was featured in my 2013 MMA Prospects Report. So, I wasn’t at all surprised to see Nam come out like his usual self, which is full-force, and just like his nickname describes, “The Korean Bulldozer.” Nam nearly finished Tokudome in the 1st round, but somehow Tokudome was able to survive and nearly turned the tide in the 2nd. Nam was able to recollect his energy and narrowly win the 3rd and final round. Excellent fight for both fighters, and a bout that should be another reminder that South Korea is quickly becoming the top Asian country for MMA talent.
Vaughan Lee showed Nam Phan little respect throughout the fight, routinely keeping his hands down and his chin high. Lee likely watched Phan’s recent fights, and realized that he did not need to be fearful of Phan’s punching power. He just simply needed to push the pace and be the busier fighter. Phan once again showed an inability to change up his gameplan on the fly, and simply let Lee punch his way to victory. Lee claims he’s moving down to Flyweight, which could be a great move for the talented Englishman. As for Phan, I’d be stunned if he didn’t receive his walking papers after his 3rd straight loss in the UFC.
The fight between Wang Anying and Albert Cheng only went one round, and there wasn’t much to take away from it besides the fact that both these fighters really have no business being in the UFC at this time. The UFC sorely needs some type of minor league system in order to keep their roster from being imploded with unpolished regional prospects. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but the UFC should be the pinnacle of the sport where only the best in the world come to compete. Last time I looked, Anying and Cheng had a combined 4-3 overall record. That’s simply not acceptable unless the UFC wants to roll out watered down cards with lesser talent.
Mark Eddiva pulled off the upset most did not see coming. Jumabieke Tuerxun was thought to be China’s next breakout star. He seemed capable of winning fights at the UFC level based on the film I had seen of him, but then news came out that Tuerxun would be making his debut at Featherweight, rather than his usual weight class of Bantamweight. I’m not sure if he had an injury, or just accepted the fight too late, but whatever the decision making process was, it was a poor one. Tuerxun showed little potential beyond a decent chin as he was unable to get the fight to the ground. Eddiva ultimately looked like the better prospect, which was likely not the UFC’s intention upon booking this fight.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had a shaky start to his fight weekend by weighing in a 0.5 lb heavy, but he was able to drop the excess weight, and ultimately put on a good showing against former Bellator champion Christian M’Pumbu. The post-fight staredown with King Mo received most of the media attention, but Jackson’s performance should receive some praise as he’s knocked out both his opponents thus far in Bellator.
In the other half of the Bellator Season 10 Light Heavyweight bracket, King Mo won a tough decision over Russian Mikhail Zayats. Most pegged Zayats as the darkhorse of this tournament, but without the threat of his submissions due to Lawal’s wrestling ability, Zayats was limited with his offensive attacks. Lawal still doesn’t look right compared to his Strikeforce days, but he did win a fight against a very tough opponent. He should have the quickness advantage against Rampage, but Lawal will have to prove he can take a punch from Rampage.
Meanwhile, Bellator also rolled out their Season 10 Featherweight tournament, which starred Diego Nunes, Mike Richman, and Goiti Yamauchi. The rest of the fighters in the tournament were lesser known types, though still talented. In a trio of upsets, Nunes, Richman, and Yamauchi all lost their fights via decision. Now, their Featherweight tournament has basically no big name appeal as the remaining semifinalists are Daniel Weichel, Will Martinez, Desmond Green, and Matt Bessette. Nonetheless, Bellator’s tournament system has proven to build new stars, and this should be more evidence that the most deserving fighters are allowed to create their own destiny.
There was a solid lineup of fights that went down outside the UFC this weekend. Taking center stage were Titan FC, Cage Warriors, and M-1 Global.
Titan FC 27 probably had the best known names on the card as former UFC fighters Mike Ricci and Jorge Gurgel faced off in the main event. Ricci won via TKO, and with another couple of wins should get a call from a major promotion. Also, victorious on the card were UFC veterans Matt Riddle and Kurt Holobaugh, and TUF 18’s Anthony Gutierrez.
Cage Warriors 65 was headlined by former UFC veteran John Maguire. Maguire ended up losing his fight to Saul Rogers. The card was a bit light on well known talent, but full of up and coming European prospects. TUF Smashes veteran Ben Alloway also picked up a win over Jack Mason.
M-1 Global had a few of their top prospects competing this weekend. Heavyweights Denis Smoldarev and Ante Delija faced off in a battle of highly-rated prospects. Smoldarev ended up taking home the victory, Meanwhile, fellow prospects Musa Khamanaev and Ilya Doderkin won their respective fights.
Some other names to note, former UFC Middleweight Tomasz Drwal won his 20th career fight, defeating TUF Brazil 1’s Delson Heleno. Bellator veteran Dan Hornbuckle lost to Dominique Steele. UFC veteran Rodney Wallace lost via split decision to rising Russian prospect Maxim Grishin. Lastly, Michal Kita defeated former UFC and Bellator Heavyweight Mike Wessel.
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