After more than one decade of high-octane Octagon action, “The Korean Zombie” walks into the fire perhaps one last time this Saturday (Aug. 26, 2023) when he battles the inimitable Max Holloway. UFC Singapore, which will take place inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, will also see Giga Chikadze return to action against Alex Caceres and Rinya Nakamura — arguably UFC’s most promising Japanese fighter in years — square off with Contender Series graduate, Fernie Garcia.
We’ve still got three UFC Singapore “Prelims” undercard bout to check out before all that (see the first batch here), though, so let’s not waste time ...
265 lbs.: Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Lukasz Brzeski
Two knockout wins under the Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) banner sent Waldo Cortes-Acosta (9-1) to Contender Series, where he claimed a contract by stopping Danilo Suzart. After picking up a pair of decision in the Octagon, “Salsa Boy” took on Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who chopped up Cortes-Acosta’s legs to hand him his first professional defeat.
He’s ended four fights via knockout and one by submission.
The Contender Series loss to Dylan Potter in 2021, which was later ruled a “No Contest” after a failed drug test, extended the unbeaten streak for Lukasz Brzeski (8-3-1) to seven straight. He then joined UFC in 2022, dropping back-to-back decisions to Martin Buday and Karl Williams.
Seven of his eight professional victories have come inside the distance, five of them via knockout.
The book is out on Cortes-Acosta: kick him in the legs and there’s not much he can do about it. Jared Vanderaa and Marcos Rogerio de Lima combined to land 67 of 71 low kicks on him, and any subsequent opponent would be foolish not to do the exact same thing. Unfortunately for Brzeski, I still don’t trust him to not be foolish. Even if he did overperform against Buday and get robbed of the decision, I favor Cortes-Acosta’s meat-and-potatoes boxing over Brzeski’s less-polished standup.
I highly doubt either man ever sniffs contention, but Cortes-Acosta just seems like the safer pick. In short, he matches Brzeski’s impressive volume and edges out a decision on the strength of cleaner punching.
Prediction: Cortes-Acosta via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Chidi Njokuani vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Chidi Njokuani (22-9) put a 1-3 Bellator skid behind him to win four straight, including a pair of first-round knockouts in the Octagon. He now finds himself winless in his last two, suffering a comeback stoppage loss to Gregory Rodrigues before dropping a narrow decision to Albert Duraev.
He’ll enjoy three inches of reach and six inches of height on Michal Oleksiejczuk (18-6).
Reeling from back-to-back submission defeats, Poland’s Oleksieczjuk quietly put together a 4-1 run that saw him start his UFC Middleweight campaign 2-0. This set up a battle with Brazilian prospect Caio Borralho, who handed “Hussar” his fourth career submission defeat.
Thirteen of his 14 stoppage wins have come by knockout.
On paper, Njokuani demolishes Oleksiejczuk seven days a week and twice on Sunday. That’s because Oleksiejczuk has never really tightened up his offense; specifically, nearly six years into his UFC career, he’s still the same bog-standard slugger who upset Khalil Rountree Jr. before failing a drug test. That said, Njokuani absolutely crumbled in the face of Rodrigues’ pressure and seemed to shut down against a gassed Duraev, so it’s hard to have any confidence in his ability to bring his technical superiority to bear.
It’s a coin flip, but I think I’m still leaning toward Njokuani, largely because Oleksiejczuk doesn’t have much of a wrestling game. If Njokuani is free to let all of his striking weapons go, Oleksiejczuk’s only real answer is to try and grit through it to get inside, which doesn’t strike me as a terribly promising plan. In the end, Njokuani dismantles him from long range to re-enter the win column.
Prediction: Njokuani via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Song Kenan vs. Rolando Bedoya
Song Kenan (19-7) started his UFC career 4-1 before a knockout loss to Max Griffin segued into a two-year absence. “The Assassin” nearly shocked the world in his March 2023 return, but ultimately succumbed to Ian Machado Garry’s power after dropping him early.
His professional stoppages are split 9:8 between knockouts and submissions.
An 11-fight win streak saw Rolando Bedoya (14-2) claim Fusion FC titles before joining teammate Charles Oliveira in the Octagon in 2023. His debut pitted him against Khaos Williams, who edged out the Peruvian via split decision in a fight that saw the two land a combined 279 significant strikes.
He stands one inch shorter than Song, but boasts a three-inch reach advantage.
Bedoya is still very much a work in progress at 26 years old. Indeed, he’s got the classic Chute Boxe aggression down pat, but his poor punching technique and questionable defense need some fine-tuning. That said, what he’s got should be enough to carry him past Song. He showed a rock-solid chin against a genuinely destructive puncher in Williams, and though he’s sorely lacking in power of his own, Bedoya has the cardio to swamp Song in volume while absorbing his best shots.
Song is unquestionably the more seasoned fighter and showed off some unexpected wrestling chops against Garry Machado, so veteran savvy could conceivably carry him to victory. More likely, though, Bedoya stays in his face and chews him up with one-two combinations for a comfortable decision win.
Prediction: Bedoya via unanimous decision
Getting up at the crack of dawn to watch a fan-favorite get bludgeoned may not be the most appealing proposal, but at least there’s a lot of other fun stuff. See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Singapore fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5 a.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 8 a.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Singapore: “Holloway vs. Korean Zombie” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.