Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) hosted its first-ever event in Singapore last night (Sat., Jan. 4, 2014) from Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. And minus its issues on "Fight Pass" and building a card composed of lesser known fighters, it was not a bad slate of fights.
In the UFC Fight Night 34 main event, Tarec Saffiedine was able to dazzle after a year long layoff, wearing down Hyun Gyu Lim for a unanimous decision victory.
The last-ever Strikeforce Welterweight champion used his familiar leg kicks, technical stand up and his muscle in the grappling exchanges to batter Lim during the course of five rounds (despite a late onslaught from Lim that had "Sponge" in trouble at the end of the fifth round).
Unfortunately, in a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs, while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the eight-walled cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in Singapore.
Biggest Winner -- Tarec Saffiedine
Winning his fifth straight fight -- and looking great after a year of inactivity -- it's safe to say Saffiedine could be a force to be reckon with in the Octagon.
He showed the reasons sometimes strikers do not need to chase the knockout blows, completely wearing down Lim with precise striking combinations on the inside and his devastating leg kicks that played a major part in winning him the gold in Strikeforce in his previous outing.
With "Sponge" declaring the Welterweight division is more exciting now that Georges St. Pierre is away, he can escalate in reclaiming his status as one of the world's best 170 pound fighters; however, there is some pretty stiff competition at the moment.
The most important thing is that Saffiedine was victorious after a handful of fights that did not materialize and that he continues to find fine form every time he steps into the cage. He also wins his first UFC post-fight bonus, splitting "Fight of the Night" honors with his opponent.
All in all, "Sponge" cleaned up.
Runner Up -- Tatsuya Kawajiri
The Japanese legend was successful in his long awaited Octagon debut, submitting young prospect Sean Soriano in the second round via rear-naked choke.
This performance now allows Kawajiri to rise in UFC's Featherweight ranks. And a fighter of his caliber can get the job done quicker than most given the amount of experience he possesses. Of course, "Crusher" may not find himself in a title fight right away; however, he will be fighting the upper echelon of the 145-pound division, the new weight class that he calls his home after spending the majority of his career at lLightweight.
Will age be a factor, though?
The 36-year old needed this performance to show that he still belongs ... and he did exactly that.
Biggest Loser -- Luiz Dutra
It is understandable that aggression could be a good thing in your UFC debut, but that does not mean you need to kill someone, either.
Dutra was incredibly emotional after being disqualified in the first round of his main card fight, losing to Kiichi Kunimoto after hitting him with several illegal 12-to-6 elbows to the back of the head.
That is practically a double disqualification.
With all due respect, the Brazilian should have been sad that Kunimoto had to be stretchered out for safety reasons rather than be upset that his Octagon debut was cut short.
Runner Up -- Quinn Mulhern
The Jackson Submission Fighting product had more Zuffa appearances (under the UFC and Strikeforce banners) than most fighters on the card, yet he looked just as inexperienced and questionable.
Mulhern pulled guard -- a lot -- in his unanimous decision loss to Japanese fan favourite Katsunori Kikuno. And it makes you wonder if something was wrong during preparations for the fight or if he sustained an injury in the bout. His eye was swollen, but his game plan was fairly odd.
Maybe did not want to stand with Kikuno, all that could be the simplest of breakdowns.
Boasting an even (3-3) record in his last six and losing two straight in the UFC, who can say if the 155-pound veteran gets another chance.
For full recaps and extensive fight coverage of UFC Fight Night 34: "Saffiedine vs. Lim" click here.