The headlining attraction of the very first UFC Fight Pass exclusive event saw former Strikeforce Champion Tarec Saffiedine take on South Korean "Ace" Hyun Gyu Lim in the main event of UFC Fight Night 34 today (Sat., Jan. 4, 2014) at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Patience was the name of the game early. Both fighters maintained their distance and offense was sporadic at best. Saffiedine attacked with leg kicks but Lim started timing them and scored a knockdown with a hard counter right hand.
The action in the first round heated up late, with Lim again scoring big with a straight right hand that stymied Tarec's attack at various points.
In the second, the two exchanged big punches, hurting each other early before going back to a counter based game. Lim's huge reach advantage served him well but Saffiedine was mixing it up with successful feints and explosive kicks and punches.
Saffiedine scored a knockdown early in the third round before finally completing a takedown not long after. He didn't do much with either, but considering how close the battle was at this point, it was notable.
What else was notable? Those leg kicks "Sponge" had been working since early in the first. In fact, he scored another knockdown with them as Lim collapsed after a particularly hard slap to the thigh. A couple more kicks sent Lim spiraling down again, enough so that Saffiedine celebrated a finish that never happened.
Premature? Sure, but there was real doubt that Lim would answer the bell for the fourth round.
Instead of continuing to take kicks to his already battered limb, Lim decided to go all out with haymakers to start the fourth, hoping a punch would land and end the fight before his leg could take any more damage.
The strategy failed.
Saffiedine was methodical in his attack. A flying knee looked like it might earn him a finish but Lim proved game simply by surviving. They went to the floor and "Sponge" worked his way to full mount.
They may have been even in the early rounds but Saffiedine was imposing his will once they got to the so-called "championship rounds". In fact, he seemed to be on cruise control, content with what would surely be a decision in his favor once the final horn sounded.
Except Lim wasn't going away easy. He stood in the center of the Octagon and threw the hardest punches he could muster, though his body was failing him. Every strong whiff of air that went near his battered leg almost put him on the mat.
It was that bad.
Ultimately, he survived to the end, even rocking the Belgian in the final 10 seconds of the bout, but the judges scored the fight in favor of Saffiedine (49-46, 48-47, and 48-47). Lim earned a moral victory by avoiding a finish but a loss is a loss.
For complete UFC Fight Night 34 results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's action click here.