The Ultimate Fighting Championship is set to continue their international expansion, holding their 2nd ever UFC card in China on March 1, 2014. The Ultimate Fighter China Finale is set to take place at the CotaiArena in Cotai, Macau, China. This will already be the UFC’s 2nd event in Asia in 2014. The TUF China Finale will be airing only on UFC Fight Pass and will be airing live in the early morning in North America—prelims beginning at 6:15 AM EST. So set your alarm clocks, brew a coffee, turn on your computers, and get ready for some early Saturday morning MMA fights.
Bad news came out for two of TUF China’s finalists just a week before the card was supposed to take place, as the featherweight final between Yang Jianping and Ning Guangyou had to be postponed to a later date due to one of the fighters suffering an injury.
Thus, the fight card will proceed with just 9 total fights, with 6 fights on the main card looking to bounce back from recent losses. It features a main event between two rising welterweights looking to break into the top 10 of the division. Co-main event features the welterweight finals of TUF China pitting a member of Team Dragons against a member of Team Lions, to crown the first winner of TUF China. Two of the more athletic heavyweights in the division are set to clash, in a fight that is sure to deliver some heavy leather. Two bantamweights facing a must-win situation fight for their spot in the UFC. And the main card opener features the once promising top Japanese featherweight taking on a Canadian MMA pioneer.
Main Card (UFC Fight Pass, 8 AM EST)
John Hathaway (17-1) (+290) vs 11 Dong Hyun Kim (18-10-1, 1 NC) (-350)
Similar to what we were expected to see in main event of UFC 170, the main event of TUF China Final features a styles clash between a wrestler taking on a judoka. The long-awaited return of John “The Hitman” Hathaway, who missed the entire 2013 year after suffering ulcerative colitis and had to pull out of his scheduled fight with Erick Silva in June. Hathaway has built an impressive 7-1 record since entering the UFC in 2009 as a 21 year old with wins over Rick Story, Diego Sanchez, and the latest over John Maguire. And his lone loss coming to veteran Mike Pyle.
Dong Hyun Kim better known as ‘Stun Gun’ comes into this main event having won 4 of his last 5 fights—with the lone loss coming due to an injury suffered in a fight against Demian Maia. The Korean most recently shocked the crowd in Brazil in October when he knocked out and put a halt to the highly-touted prospect, Erick Silva. Stun Gun has only suffered two losses in his career, both to top 10 welterweights—one to the previously mentioned Maia and the other to 2 Carlos Condit.
Hathaway and Kim were originally scheduled to fight at UFC 120 as two very promising young welterweights, way back in 2010 before Kim had to withdraw due to injury. Now 4 years down the road, they will finally get to meet, a little bit older, a little bit wiser, but still two welterweights coming off 3 straight wins with potential to put themselves close to title contention in the division.
We may finally get to see that wrestling vs judo styles matchup in this fight, as both fighters favor the takedowns over the standup. Both Kim and Hathaway landing the exact same 48% takedown accuracy, but Stun Gun is superior when it comes to defense, 81% takedown defense to Hathaway’s 61%.
There’s a strong possibility that the two fighters may neutralize each other in the takedown department, and will be forced to compete in the stand up. The fighters are both surprisingly even when it comes to striking as well, Hathaway lands the higher significant strikes per minute (SLpM)–3.49 to Kim’s 2.14. However Kim is the more accurate striker (54% to 42%). Defensively they are virtually identical.
Having not competed in 17 months, there is always the factor of ring rust plaguing a fighter coming off a long layoff, as with Hathaway.
|TALE OF THE TAPE|
|Average Fight Time||11:51||13:42|
|Height||6′ 1″ (185 cm)||6′ 1″ (185 cm)|
|Weight||170 lb. (77 kg)||170 lb. (77 kg)|
|Reach||76.0″ (193.04 cm)||75.5″ (191.77 cm)|
|STRIKING (Significant Strikes)|
|Strikes Landed per Min. (SLpM)||2.14||3.49|
|Strikes Absorbed per Min. (SApM)||1.53||1.73|
|Takedowns Average/15 min.||3.27||2.74|
|Submission Average/15 min.||0.74||0.96|
Wang Sai (6-4-1) (-270) vs Zhang Lipeng (6-7-1) (+230)
The TUF China welterweight final features two grapplers, Team Lions’ Wang Sai and Team Dragons’ Zhang Lipeng. Both fighters were the first welterweights picked by coaches Hailin Ao and Tiequan Zhang respectively.
Wang Sai defeated Wu Qize in the opening round of the show, via 2nd round TKO. And defeating Wang Anying via 2nd round submission (rear naked choke) to earn a spot in the finale. Sai, a previous member of China Top Team, has spent his training camp leading up to the finale with AKA Thailand—run by UFC welterweight Mike Swick. ‘The Boss” has finished his opponents in all 6 of his career wins–4 via ko/tko and 2 via submission.
Zhang Lipeng submitted Wu Qize in the first round via punches, and followed that up with a 2nd round submission (kimura) of Albert Cheng to secure his spot in the finale. Lipeng has 3 of his career wins via submission, while suffering that same fate being submitted 5 times in his 7 losses.
There is little surprise as to what either fighter will be looking to do in this fight, both are most comfortable in top position on the mat and the fighter most successful in securing the takedown may end up being the one crowned the first ultimate fighter china winner. Sai favours more of a ground and pound style, punishing his opponent from the top, while Lipeng prefers to look for the finish by locking in a submission.
Matt Mitrione (6-3) (+105) vs Shawn Jordan (15-5) (-125)
Two of the more athletic heavyweights in the UFC, both are not afraid to stand and trade, which could make this matchup an exciting one, but also a quick one. With a combined 16 of 21 victories coming by way of KO/TKO.
A lot of similarities between the two fighters, both Mitrione and Jordan come from a football background, Mitrione playing defensive tackle for the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings before venturing into Mixed Martial Arts. And Jordan a fullback, a member of the National Champion LSU Tigers in 2007.
Since winning all of his first 5 fights in the UFC, Matt Mitrione has come out on the losing end in 3 of his last 4 fights, most recently being submitted for the first time in his career by Brendan Schaub at UFC 165.
The former strikeforce challengers prospect, Shawn Jordan had his mini run halted by Gabriel Gonzaga, suffering a knockout in just 1:33 at UFC 166. Prior to that Jordan had TKO victories over Mike Russow and Pat Barry.
The two heavyweights love to throw heavy leather, as evidenced by their 3.0+ SLpM and over 50% accuracy. While Jordan holds the experience factor over Mitrione–having competed in double the amount of fights, Mitrione is the better defensive fighter, with a high 67% defense to Jordan’s 43%. In huge part due to his huge reach.
Mitrione is physically the bigger fighter in this matchup, enjoying a 3 inch height and 6.5 inch reach advantage over the smaller Shawn Jordan. This may lead to Jordan taking this fight to the ground, if prompted, Jordan possesses the ability to take the fight to the mat.
Jordan lands 1.54 takedowns per 15 minutes, at 40% accuracy. While Mitrione, who has never even attempted a single takedown in his 9 fight career, has defended 54% of his opponents’ takedowns.
|TALE OF THE TAPE|
|Average Fight Time||07:09||08:20|
|Height||6′ 3″ (191 cm)||6′ 0″ (183 cm)|
|Weight||265 lb. (120 kg)||260 lb. (118 kg)|
|Reach||82.0″ (208.28 cm)||75.50″ (191.77 cm)|
|STRIKING (Significant Strikes)|
|Strikes Landed per Min. (SLpM)||3.65||3.14|
|Strikes Absorbed per Min. (SApM)||2.61||3.36|
|Takedowns Average/15 min.||0||1.54|
|Submission Average/15 min.||0.93||0.26|
Nam Phan (18-12) (-140) vs Vaughan Lee (13-9) (+120)
The beneficiary of the TUF China featherweight finals being postponed, Nam Phan and Vaughan Lee get bumped up to the main card billing of the TUF China Finale.
The always exciting Nam Phan, desperately needs a victory in this matchup, losing 3 of his last 4 fights (to Jimy Hettes, Dennis Siver, and Takeya Mizugaki in his bantamweight debut). And is 2-5 combined in his UFC career. He faces an opponent that is also in desperate need of a victory, Vaughan Lee has lost 2 of his last 3 fights, with those 2 losses coming to top 5 bantamweights T.J. Dillashaw and Rapahael Assuncao. And is on a streak of lose-win-lose-win-lose, so if the pattern continues, we may be seeing Lee get his hand raised come Saturday.
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Nam Phan—althought favors the striking—may wish to take this one to the mat, seeing as how Lee has been submitted in 6 of his 9 career losses. However Nam is not one to shoot for the takedown, only averaging 0.2 takedowns per 15 minutes in his UFC career. On the contrary, Lee lands an average of 1.37 takedowns per 15 minutes, at a low 36%.
Phan has a lower than 1 SLpM to SApM ratio (4.81 to 6.16). However Lee is not much better, also a lower than 1 ratio (1.94 : 2.21). Look for Nam to throw those trademark body shots early and often, he’s not afraid to exchange in the standup–willing to take one to give one. On the other hand, Lee takes a more cautious approach in the standup and may look to take the fight to the ground where he feels most comfortable.
Hatsu Hioki (26-7-2) (-440) vs Ivan Menjivar (25-11) (+350)
Hatsu Hioki was once thought to be one of the best featherweights in the world, that has since been a distant memory. The former Sengoku and Shooto featherweight champion comes into this fight having lost his last 3 fights (Lamas, Guida, Elkins) after previously winning his first two UFC fights. And now, like his opponent, is facing a must-win situation.
The Pride of El Salvador, Menjivar has suffered a loss in 3 of his last 4 bouts, but in-between a beautiful armbar submission of the night of Azamat Gashimov. But recently suffered a unanimous decision loss to Wilson Reis at UFC 165.
We might be in store for an entertaining grappling match if this fight were to hit the mat. A place where Menjivar may want to avoid against the high level grappler, Hioki. If Hioki does decides to take Menjivar down, he has a 55% takedown accuracy—while averaging 2 takedowns per 15 minutes, to Menjivar’s 40% takedown defense.
Both fighters can certainly hold their own on the feet, but you will notice that Hioki has a massive size advantage in this matchup, owning a 5 inch height and 9 inch reach advantage over the Canadian. The striking statistics are relatively even, with a slight edge going to Hioki in terms of striking accuracy (45% to 39%) and striking defense–which both fighters have a high > 65%.
One thing to note, Hatsu Hioki has trained in the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, Canada in the past, the same gym where Ivan Menjivar has made his home.
Prelims (UFC Fight Pass, 6:15 AM EST)
Kazuki Tokudome (12-4-1) (+160) vs Yui Chul Nam (17-4-1) (-185)
Tokudome is 1-1 in the UFC with a victory over Cristiano Marcello (via UD) and his latest, a UD loss to Norman Parke. The Japanese lightweight will have his hands full against a debuting Korean fighter.
Yui Chul Nam has been making the rounds in Road FC and Legend FC, he holds a win over UFC featherweight Hacran Dias. Of his 17 career victories, 8 have come by way of ko/tko, and 8 by way of decision.
“The Korean Bulldozer” lives up to his nickname, as he puts his head down and comes out guns a blazing looking to brawl and knock his opponent out. Tokudome on the other hand, is the complete opposite, he’s cautious and more technical, buying his time before catching his opponent off guard with a timed takedown.
Zak Cummings (16-3) (-160) vs Alberto Mina (10-0) (+140)
A member of Team Sonnen on TUF 17, Zak Cummings made his UFC and welterweight debut—-after losing in the quarterfinals to Dylan Andrews on the show. And defeated TUF Smashes’ cast member Benny Alloway in the first round via d’Arce choke, also earning himself submission of the night honours. Cummings was scheduled to fight at the TUF 18 finale in November, against Sergio Moraes before an injury forced him to bow out. Cummings is a good grappler and submission artist, winning 9 of his career fights via submission, however he will be wise to keep this one from hitting the mat against a more skilled grappler that is his opponent.
31 year old undefeated Brazilian, Alberto Mina is set to make his UFC debut after fighting all over the world in locations such as Singapore, Greece, England, and Brazil. Mina is both a black belt in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, who looks to grab a hold of his opponent and take the fight to the ground right away. He has finished all 10 of his fights, 6 via submission, 4 via ko/tko.
Albert Cheng (2-2) (+100) vs Anying Wang (1-0) (-120)
Albert Cheng, resides in Ontario, Canada, but is of Chinese descent, which earned him a welterweight spot on the inaugural season of TUF China. He is a powerful wrestler that is very heavy and hard to sweep or escape when on top, as displayed on the show. Cheng had originally lost his quarter final fight to Dong Xin via TKO, but got a 2nd chance and won his fight against Yong Shun (via submission, strikes) to determine who replaced Xin, after he had suffered an injury. Cheng would lose to finalist Zhang Lipeng via submission in the semi-finals.
Anying Wang—a fellow castmate on TUF China, but on the opposite team of Cheng—advanced directly to the semi-finals after his scheduled opponent, Fu Ziyi failed to make weight. The Mongolian fighter took on Wang Sai in the semi-finals and was very hesitant the entire fight, both rarely engaging on the feet, with Sai eventually scoring a takedown and submitting Anying in the 2nd round. Prior to coming onto the show, Anying Wang had just 1 professional fight, winning via doctor stoppage after round 1.
Jumabieke Tuerxun (14-0) (-350) vs Mark Eddiva (5-0) (+290)
A matchup of undefeated fighters will be contested in the featherweight division. Chinese Jimabieke Tuerxun is a natural bantamweight and has 7 wins via decision, 3 via ko/tko, 4 via submission. Mark Eddiva, a member of the best MMA champ in the Philippines, Lakay MMA–is a training partner to the likes of Eduard Folayang, Kevin Bellingon, and Honorio Banario. Eddiva has finished all 5 of his fights, 3 via ko/tko and 2 via submission.
Tags: Dong Hyun Kim Hatsu Hioki Ivan Menjivar John Hathaway Matt Mitrione MMA Nam Phan Shawn Jordan TUF Tuf China Tuf China Finale UFC UFC Fight Night Ufc Fight Night Macao Vaughan Lee Wang Sai Zhang Lipeng