Despite the event being wickedly early for us North Americans (and even worse for our friends on the Pacific coast), the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "China" Finale was worth getting up for and wiping the crust out of our eyes.
In the Macau main event, Dong Hyun Kim pretty much stunned the dickens out of us all, knocking out John Hathaway in devastating fashion with a spinning back elbow.
The fight was exciting from start to finish, as each fighter had their moments by rocking their counterpart.
"Stun Gun" was doing better on the feet, although Hathaway was content to stay in the pocket and swing. After two entertaining rounds, "Hitman" failed to connect with an elbow, and Kim threw an elbow of his own, leaving Hathaway unconsciously sprawled out on the mat.
Before we get to the juicy stuff, Lipeng Zhang was your TUF: "China" welterweight winner, and obviously his win was a big deal. But to be honest, the decision was pretty ridiculous, and the fight wasn't very eventful. Plus, us westerners didn't see much of their reality show -- unless some of you are savvy in the internet streaming department.
He gets the UFC contract, and that's about all you need to know. Let's move on to the fighters you actually care about.
In mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can have only 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.
Without further ado, here are your biggest winners and losers from Macau:
Biggest Winner: Dong Hyun Kim
So, Dong Hyun Kim was that grappler who out-muscled his opponents in devastatingly boring fashion, correct?
Well, holy freaking crap.
"Stun Gun" is finally living up to his nickname, and the Korean is starting to become one of the welterweight division's most devastating finishers (adding a "Performance of The Night" bonus to round out his paycheck).
Take that comment with a grain of salt, but after knocking out Erick Silva and John Hathaway consecutively, he's one to watch in the newly opened 170-pound weight class, and he's flying under the radar, too.
He's on a four-fight winning streak and has only lost twice out of 23 bouts. Ever since he fell in love with standing and banging, his lackluster fighting style is long gone out the window.
Kim is nowhere near a title fight in realistic terms, yet if he keeps doing what he has been doing and adds a little finesse to his striking techniques, he's going to increase our interest in seeing him there eventually.
He has to work on his post-fight back flips, though ... dude nearly snapped his own neck.
Runner Up: Matt Mitrione
Some have no problem with throwing around the "gatekeeper" tag; however, labeling a fighter as one is disrespectful.
That being said, Matt Mitrione probably won't ever get a title shot in UFC. Nothing is impossible, as none of us would ever be confident in predicting something like that. If "Meathead" didn't knock out Shawn Jordan with one second left in the first round and ended up losing the fight, it's safe to say he may have gotten his pink slip.
Mitrione scored a highlight-reel knockout (winning the other "Performance of The Night" bonus), saved his job, and proved once more that no matter who he's lined up to face, people will tune in, because he markets himself well by being a character.
We saw that on TUF 10, and his entire professional career has been contested in UFC. Everyone knows who he is, despite being a mid-tier fighter.
Instead of saying something like "Mitrione needs to be more consistent," the former NFL player just needs to keep winning over a bunch of solid opponents if he hopes to make a title run or accomplish greater feats in the sport. He's had a few losses and he's not getting any younger since he'll be 36 years old in the summer.
Then again, if Mitrione is content with knocking dudes out and making money, so be it.
He's here to stay.
Biggest Loser: John Hathaway
This was a given, since getting knocked out by a spinning back elbow isn't really going to put you on the better side of the spotlight.
Being on the losing end of a brutal "Knockout of the Year" candidate only two months into 2014, John Hathaway never lived up to his hype after defeating Diego Sanchez in mid 2010. He was touted as being one of the biggest prospects out of England in a very long time, and after five years under UFC's banner, he's been incredibly average.
He's only finished one fight out of his seven wins, and that was his debut over Tom Egan, who doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. This may seem unfair because Hathaway has only lost twice out of nine UFC fights, but his style isn't helping him, either.
At least he came out swinging in the main event. Too bad his fate was determined by that exact same method.
Runner Up: Nam Phan
Nam Phan is similar to Mitrione in a sense. He may not be the best fighter out there, but he does have a familiar name and generates awareness every time he steps into the cage.
Unfortunately for Phan, he looked awful on the "Prelims" card and made Vaughan Lee look like a prime Roy Jones Jr., mixed with whichever talented kickboxer you can think of that first comes to mind.
Phan is 2-6 in his eight-fight UFC stint and that's pretty atrocious. He has one of the worst records for an active fighter still on the roster, and he was outclassed in every sense of the word in China.
At least he hasn't been finished in any of those fights, and that's a positive. But, how many positives can you come up with for someone who keeps on losing? It was a poor effort from Phan, and there's a great chance the former TUF contestant will be fighting elsewhere in his next fight with three losses in a row.
There you have it.
For complete TUF: "China" Finale event coverage, check out our results and play-by-play right here.