On the "Prelims" portion of tomorrow's (March 1, 2014) TUF: "China" Finale in Macau, two exciting bantamweights who will be looking to get back into the win column will square off when Nam Phan and Vaughan Lee take the center of the Octagon.
Both of their styles are focused heavily on pushing their opponent more than they can take, and both are relentless in trying to gain an upper hand. They take tons of risks, and that trait lends itself to terrific fights, and that's what I think we'll see when they meet inside the cage.
Phan, a competitor on TUF season 12, has been in UFC for just over three years, fighting seven times for the promotion. Although he has only recorded a lowly 2-5 record in those outings, Phan has put on competitive performances with notable fighters, most recently No. 7 ranked bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki.
Phan's style is one that focuses heavily on his boxing, which while not perfectly sound, is complimented well by his high work rate and tough chin. He tends to come in with one or two punches, staying at distance and then quickly making an attack on his opponent. His circling could use some work, but his forward motion is very quick and can take even seasoned opponents off their guard at times. Phan's style is one that tends to focus more on inflicting damage on his opponent than defending himself, which creates fun exchanges as he makes opponents fight backwards.
Lee's style is similar to Phan's in that it focuses far more on offense than defense, but he goes about it somewhat differently. He is an in-your-face, dirty boxing type of fighter, who presses himself on opponents early and often, rarely giving them a moment's rest. His striking leaves something to be desired, but in the clinch he is surprisingly strong, and if the fight hits the mat, his submission first, position later approach creates hectic battles, which are entertaining to watch.
When these two meet inside the Octagon, I expect them to put on a very entertaining fight. Both men could really use a win, as they are both coming off losses and currently seem to be toward the bottom of the bantamweight heap. I expect both to go after it as hard as possible, with Lee pressing the action in the clinch and Phan looking to keep the fight at a distance.
Lee will probably get his way some of the time, but not before Phan cracks him a few times from the outside. From the clinch, Phan's going to have to fight hard to break free and do some damage, because although Lee is sloppy on the mat, he is very dangerous if he gets the fight there, and it isn't worth it for Phan to engage him there when he is capable of winning the striking battle. If they stand and trade, look for Phan to land the crisper punches, but Lee will be swinging hard and often at him, which could make Phan have to back up and get cornered.
This fight will be one where both fighters move around constantly, engaging in the clinch and in tight striking exchanges. Both of these guys have a lot of heart and stamina, and they'll be willing to put all that they have into this fight, especially since they both really need to get a win. At the TUF China Finale, expect Nam Phan and Vaughan Lee to put on a "Fight of the Night" worthy performance.
See if they can get it done in our TUF: "China" Finale results and play-by-play thread here.