Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Dong Hyun Kim and Tarec Saffiedine dueled last night (Dec. 30, 2016) at UFC 207 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Despite winning the vast majority of his recent bouts, Kim hasn’t been able to build much momentum towards the title shot. Opposite a tough and proven foe, the South Korean athlete was hoping to take a major step towards that goal. Meanwhile, the former Strikeforce champion had not yet lived up to his potential in UFC. Saffiedine is capable of doing big things, but “Sponge” really needed to record his first signature win inside the Octagon last night.
Kim immediately charged into the clinch, but Saffiedine defended expertly and briefly foot swept his opponent. Saffiedine showed a lot more aggression than usual, landing quick combos in the clinch before breaking away back to the center.
Kim pursued aggressively, but Saffeidine did an excellent job of backing away only to return with hard combinations. It wasn’t enough to deter the South Korean, but Saffiedine was able to land the better shots, particularly as Kim began to grow tired from all the damage.
It was a great opening round for the Belgian athlete.
Kim continued his charge without relenting in the slightest. Both men were fatiguing a bit due to the ridiculous pace, which led to many exchanges inside the clinch with both men landing small shots.
On the whole, the second round was very close. Kim was unable to land any takedowns or fight-changing strikes, but he did pressure constantly and control for some time along the fence. Meanwhile, Saffiedine wasn’t able to landing anything devastating, but he did land the cleaner and more consistent blows.
The potential was there for either man to surge ahead in the final frame.
Both men were well aware of it too, as they opened with a wild exchange. After expending that all that energy — and Saffiedine generally got the better of it — the fight slowed back down in the clinch.
Once again, Saffiedine was able to defend his foes takedowns and eventually break away.
Back in the center, Saffiedine rammed home a few hard body kicks. Kim finally managed to land a real takedown at the very end of the round, but he wasn’t able to do much with him. It was anyone’s round, as Kim had some control while Saffiedine did the real damage.
Two of three judges awarded the decision to Kim.
It’s hard to say this was a strong performance from Kim. He was never able to land his takedowns consistently, and most of his winging punches came up short. He was the aggressor, sure, but he was definitely not the more effective fighter.
Luckily for him, my scorecard doesn’t matter.
At any rate, Kim extends his win streak to three and does deserve a top opponent next. If Carlos Condit returns any time soon, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to match those two up once again.
Saffiedine fought a really excellent fight. His clinch work was brilliant, as he used foot sweeps to counter his opponent’s aggression. Additionally, he worked in short elbows and hard combos beautifully from close range, doing damage while working back to his preferred distance.
Numerous times, Saffiedine was able to work out of terrible wrestling positions. It was quite impressive, as Kim would essentially lock a takedown up, but the Belgian kickboxer would find a way to squirm out of his grasp.
It’s a performance that should have earned him a hard-fought win.
Instead, Saffiedine has now lost his last two bouts. He’s likely due to for a step back in competition, but it’s hard to drop him down the rankings for basically beating a top 10 opponent. It’s a bad situation, and there’s no easy solution.
At UFC 207, Dong Hyun Kim was awarded the split decision opposite Tarec Saffiedine. Can Kim go on a title run?
For complete UFC 207: “Nunes vs Rousey” results and play-by-play, click HERE!