Earlier today (March 1, 2014) streaking Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway went to war in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "China" Finale from Cotai Arena in Macau, China.
Get complete results and play-by-play from all the "Fight Pass" action online right here.
Each fighter brought a three-fight win streak into the bout, but Kim's was a lot more prevalent. Last seen blasting touted Brazilian Erick Silva into oblivion at UFC Fight Night 29, "Stun Gun" had a chance to propel himself into the welterweight top 10 with a win over the returning Hathaway.
"Hitman" was coming back from a frustrating 2013 in which he failed to step inside the Octagon. His last bout was a decision victory over John Maguire at UFC on Fuel TV 5 way back in September 2012, and he had a massive test before him in Kim.
That was a test he was ultimately unable to pass, as Kim scored arguably the best mixed martial arts (MMA) knockout of the young year. Let's take a look back at his "Stunning" performance from Macau.
Kim came out aggressive to start the first. Hathaway threw some good knees to the body early, and Kim responded with his newfound striking power to wobble "Hitman." Hathaway slowed down the action with a takedown from the clinch, but Kim broke loose to throw more strikes. Kim was winging wild punches with bad intentions, yet Hathaway persevered.
It didn't last long, as Kim floored him with a left hand to rain down ground and pound. Breathing heavily, Kim threw an axe kick to Hathaway's body and was nearly caught in a triangle as the opening frame came to a close.
The second round saw Hathaway light on his feet, scoring with more knees to the body. Kim landed a big elbow and Hathaway fought back with a right hand of his own. Kim fought off a takedown attempt, but he was beginning to slow. The bout got a bit sloppy as the fighters traded shots. Kim landed a powerful left hand against the fence, and then scored a trip takedown. "Stun Gun" landed in the crucifix for a brief period, switching to side control to land elbows as the round came to an end.
As the third round began, Hathaway once again threw the lead knee, following with some solid elbows before pushing Kim up against the fence.
Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as Kim uncorked an absolutely vicious spinning back elbow that had Hathaway out cold before he even hit the mat.
After not finishing a fight for nearly five years, Kim has shown a surprising transition to being a power striker with two straight knockouts of tough opponents. There's no doubt that "Stun Gun" deserves a spot in the top 10.
He should also get a huge name fight in his next bout. The winner of UFC 171's Hector Lombard vs. Jake Shields bout would make an excellent opponent for the surging Kim, who looks the best he ever has. His wrestling was always good; now it appears he has the stand-up game to match.
Hathaway shouldn't lose too much ground with the loss. He took on an extremely tough challenge after a long layoff when he just as easily could have asked his employer for a tune-up fight, and that's something that won't go unnoticed by UFC brass.
"Hitman" suffered his first-ever stoppage loss at the hands of Kim, but he weathered an early storm and showed a solid striking game to complement his already formidable wrestling skills. The future is still very bright for the 26-year-old Hathaway; he just needs a slight step down in competition to get back on track. Gunnar Nelson is set to return at UFC Fight Night in London Saturday (March 8, 2014). If he wins, a match-up versus Hathaway could be a very interesting fight.
Dong Hyun Kim continues to impress with his newfound striking abilities. A huge fight should await "Stun Gun" as he makes an assault on the top welterweights in UFC. Who should he face next?