This morning (Jan. 4, 2014), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hit the Singapore shores with UFC Fight Night 34: "Saffiedine vs. Lim," live from the Marina Bay Sands in Marina Bay. The event aired exclusively on the UFC's recently launched "Fight Pass" digital service.
The card ended up being pretty entertaining, though it wasn't perfect. In the main event, Tarec Saffiedine won a hard fought decision over Hyun Gyu Lim in his UFC debut. The former Strikeforce Welterweight champion could have finished the fight in the third round, but didn't press the action. The card also featured the debut of "The Crusher" Tatsuya Kawajiri.
So with the fights over and Saturday night just beginning, let's talk about this morning...
Tarec is good but has a ways to go...
Tarec Saffiedine looked pretty good in his bout with Hyun Gyu Lim. That's the very basic assessment of his showing. His leg kicks were on point and everything he threw landed on target. On the surface, that's as good of a UFC debut as he could have hoped to have.
However, he should have done all of that. As the last Strikeforce Welterweight champion, Saffiedine entered the Octagon with some high expectations. He's supposed to beat guys like Lim. He's just a better class of fighter and fighters like Lim are the supposed "easy" match ups.
He destroyed Lim's leg and at one point dropped him with leg kicks. The fight probably could have been finished had Saffiedine not followed Lim to the ground. That's really the biggest take away. Saffiedine dominated a fighter he was expected to beat yet couldn't get the finish.
Hopefully it was just a case of a fighter struggling to get up for an opponent who is so clearly out of their class. That's the only explanation for his complete indifference in the fifth and final round.
"Crusher" has still got it...
Being totally honest, I wasn't really impressed with Tatsuya Kawajiri's showing early in the first round. Sean Soriano was landing some very good strikes and prevented several takedown attempts, Kawajiri's bread and butter. However, when Kawajiri did get the fight to the ground he looked really good.
He clearly still can compete, though his time in the sport is probably pretty limited due to his age. At 35 years old, he's in his twilight years. The lighterweight divisions are meant for young fighters. Guys like Urijah Faber are the exception to that rule.
And maybe just maybe, we'll be able to add "Crusher" to that list of old fighters who can still compete in the young man's game.
Also, legit respect for that post-fight interview. Legend.
Fight Pass was sort of a success...
As I wrote immediately following the event, I'm not exactly sure how I feel about "Fight Pass" as a means of watching fights. I'm a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA) so the more, the better. And while the level of talent was pretty low on this card, it turned out to be pretty entertaining.
The big issue is that the delivery of the fight just didn't really impress me all that much. It's still a beta product -- whether the UFC wants to admit it or not -- and should be treated as such. What was advertised and what was delivered isn't even close to being the same.
There are also issues with the user interface. It just feels super rushed in order to actually stream today's fights.
The good news is that the UFC is listening and will be making improvements. We know that because UFC President Dana White was on Twitter talking to fans and passing along reactions to the UFC's latest product. It isn't perfect but maybe one day it will be.
- Brian Stann totally killed it in the booth. Since retiring from MMA, he's been working as a commentator for Fox Sports South's ACC football crew. He's talented on the stick and really showed that he can step up and fill in as the color analyst.
- Kyung Ho Kang could develop into quite a good fighter. He absolutely crushed Shunichi Shimizu everywhere the fight took place. He's big for the weight class and will likely be around for a while as the UFC continues its Asian invasion.
- Luiz Dutra tried to land those "Travis Browne" elbows. I say tried because he landed them to Kiichi Kunimoto's brain stem. Those are definitely dangerous, but they've gotta be legal.
- Shunichi Shimizu tried to game the system. I hate that.
- Hyun Gyu Lim is one tough sonuvabitch. His leg was mangled and yet he pressed forward and took Saffiedine to a decision. What an amazing show of heart. That's the kind of fighter the UFC loves to keep on its roster and I expect to see him on future cards. He will improve.
- Not sure how I feel about watching fights at 6am. On one hand, it's nice to way to start the day. On the other, waking up at 6am sucks.