This weekend (Sat., Aug. 26, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventures forth to Singapore Indoor Arena in Kallang, Singapore, for UFC Singapore. There are a few standout details surrounding UFC Singapore that separate it from the average “Fight Night” event. For example, there’s universal distaste for the main event match up, which minimizes Chan Sung Jung’s chances of retiring on a win by matching him up with Max Holloway. In addition, it’s a rarely-timed event, which starts early Saturday morning (5 a.m. ET “Prelims” kickoff). Lastly, more Asian talent is highlighted than usual, so hopefully a new prospect from the Far East would emerge.
Let’s dig into all the main card fights leading up to the co-main event:
Featherweight: Giga Chikadze vs. Alex Caceres
Best Win for Chikadze? Cub Swanson For Caceres? Sergio Pettis
Current Streak: Chikadze lost his last bout, whereas Caceres has won two straight
X-Factor: How will Chikadze perform following the Calvin Kattar beatdown?
How these two match up: This one could go anywhere, but I expect a fun fight.
Remember when Chikadze was the talk of the Featherweight town? A seven-fight win streak and top-tier kickboxing credentials will build a lot of hype, but Kattar sent him back down to Earth in brutal fashion. It’s been a long time since Chikadze made the walk, so it remains to be seen if he comes out improved or gun shy.
Caceres, meanwhile, is a model of activity. After years and ups-and-downs, he settled into the veteran role with grace and found consistent success. Winner of seven of his last eight, Caceres is a funky kickboxer with slick jiu-jitsu, though he has no particularly trustworthy way of dragging foes to the mat.
Two years ago, this was a no-brainer. Chikadze is the far more powerful kickboxer, and his overall form is snappier and more punishing. Caceres has a definite advantage on the mat but no real wrestling to speak of, which leads to a clean sprawl-and-brawl performance from the Georgian.
Nowadays? That’s still ultimately my answer, but there’s much more hesitation. Chikadze should be able to hammer Caceres with kicks and win the distance battle, but there are questions about his timing and chin after the Kattar beating. Plus, Caceres is riding a wave of momentum, and that counts for something!
I’ll trust that Chikadze — veteran of nearly 50 professional kickboxing bouts — knows how to bounce back from defeat and perform. Still, he had best be on his game, because Caceres will test him.
Prediction: Chikadze via decision
Bantamweight: Rinya Nakamura vs. Fernie Garcia
Best Win for Nakamura? Toshiomi Kazama For Garcia? Joshua Weems
Current Streak: Nakamura recently won his UFC debut at 7-0, while Garcia is 0-2 in the Octagon
X-Factor: Nakamura doesn’t have a ton of experience beyond the first round
How these two match up: This looks to be a classic prospect showcase.
Nakamura is the son of Shooto pioneer Kozo Nakamura, as well as an accomplished freestyle wrestler. More recently, he won Road To UFC, and he’s made it a habit of knocking out his opposition quickly. Garcia, meanwhile, has yet to make much of an impact. He showed some good knockout power on Contenders Series, but Garcia has struggled to stay off his back against UFC opposition.
Yeah, UFC wants a Nakamura stoppage here. Garcia has been entirely unremarkable in his 30 minutes of Octagon combat, whereas Nakamura seems like one of Japan’s best talents in years. He’s got the wrestling to dictate where the fight takes place and the power to hurt his opponent.
More likely than not, a Nakamura counter punch clips Garcia early.
Prediction: Nakamura via knockout
Women’s Flyweight: Erin Blanchfield vs. Taila Santos
Best Win for Blanchfield? Jessica Andrade For Santos? Joanne Wood
Current Streak: Blanchfield has begun her UFC career a perfect 7-0, while Santos came up short in her last bout
X-Factor: Blanchfield has a ton of momentum
How these two match up: This is actually a great fight for the women’s Flyweight division with serious title implications.
Blanchfield is the hottest young talent at 125 lbs. At just 24 years of age, she’s well-rounded, aggressive, and a consistent finisher. The jiu-jitsu black belt is best at strangling foes on the canvas, but she actually held her own trading with Andrade far better than most would have expected.
Best of all, she’s still improving quickly between fights.
Santos, meanwhile, shocked the world by nearly dethroning Valentina Shevchenko. Though Santos has scored most of her finishes on the feet thanks to her Muay Thai background, she actually gave “Bullet” a ton of problems by repeatedly taking her back.
This is a really interesting game of style vs. momentum. On one hand, the style clash favors Santos. She’s the more composed and more powerful striker, and historically has shown the takedown defense and physicality necessary to keep this one standing. If the two spend a lot of time exchanging, Blanchfield’s reliance on just the 1-2 and lack of head movement will come back to bite her.
On the flip side, Blanchfield is a difficult woman to bet against right now. She looks like a future champion, smartly game planning her way through a dangerous woman in Andrade. If she can get Santos down, chances are she’ll dominate there like she’s done to all her other opponents.
Prediction: Blanchfield via decision
Heavyweight: Junior Tafa vs. Parker Porter
Best Win for Tafa? Tsuyoshi Sudario For Porter? Chase Sherman
Current Streak: Tafa lost his UFC debut, whereas Parker returned to the win column last time out
X-Factor: Junior’s brother Justin already knocked Porter out and was surely an asset in his training camp
How these two match up: I have a soft spot for Porter, but I cannot pretend this is a particularly good Heavyweight fight.
Tafa’s UFC debut was abysmal. He’s known as a power puncher and striker, but he showed off a real lack of polish in his grappling against the unremarkable Mohammed Usman. Porter, meanwhile, is a veteran of this game. He’s decently skilled for an unranked Heavyweight, but he’s not athletic enough to impose his game on above-average talent.
This is a very simple two outcome fight: Tafa either blasts Porter inside a round, or Porter drags him to the floor and beats him up. I don’t feel particularly confident in one outcome over the other, but the fact that I’ve literally seen a Tafa knock out Porter already is hard to ignore. Equally difficult to ignore is the fact that Usman vs. Tafa might be the lowest level and least entertaining fight of the year.
In the event of a coin toss, might as well go with the younger finisher.
Prediction: Tafa via knockout
‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2023: 31-27-1 (2)
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.