UFC Fight Night 34 Preview

ufc_fn34The UFC will start the New Year in a bit of a message for what their plans are for the future of the sport. The UFC will travel to Singapore on January 4th in the first fight of the year and the first of many that is not timed for North America. The UFC is looking at 2014 with eyes wide open about how they can continue to grow the sport. Their strategy includes moving to more places than ever before and beginning to focus on these new places more than in the past. That means that there will be more strange times for the fights as the North American audience will not be the main concern. Of course the UFC will not ignore North America as there are plans to continue expanding to more places in North America and will have plenty of regular fight times. They will not open with one though as UFC Fight Night 34 will see only the diehards watching early in the morning for North America but that is the point. The fight has been made for a different audience that will continue to grow the sport internationally. A big part of this growth is also the featured fighters in these fights. For UFC Fight Night 34 there will be plenty of new faces that will make their UFC debut in a place the UFC has never been. One of these fighters will be Tarec Saffiedine who will make the jump from Strikeforce and into the UFC. Saffiedine is a veteran fighter that has worked his way up into the UFC and will be the first Belgian fighter to ever fight in the octagon. He would get this chance thanks to his last fight where he beat Nate Marquardt for the Strikeforce Welterweight title and would win. The win would earn Saffiedine a shot in the UFC but he would have to wait for it as his title-winning fight was in January 2013. After a year off Saffiedine will return to fighting after injuries piled up preventing him from making his debut against Robbie Lawlor. He will now return and hopes to begin moving up to earn his title shot in a division that has lost its dominant leader. For his debut Saffiedine was supposed to see Jake Ellenberger in a fight against a fellow top 10 fighter. Instead Hyun Gyu Lim will be across the octagon as Ellenberger would suffered an injury training for the fight. Lim is almost seen as a sacrificial lamb in this fight but he is a lot more than that. Since entering the UFC in 2013 the South Korean has won both of his two fights. He has also won them via KO and has had some very good performances. Not many know of him yet but this is his chance to put his name among the up and coming stars in the UFC. He will look to take this opportunity closer to home and win a fight that is sure to put him closer to the top 10 of the division. So far Lim seems to be the most promising Asian fighter in the UFC and if he can continue to put together big wins he could be on the fast track to becoming the first Asian champion in the UFC. There is a lot of road to cover first though and the first step will be beating a champion in Saffiedine. Both fighters are looking to make their names known by winning the first main event of 2014. Saffiedine is a representative of the new school of fighters as he has trained MMA his entire life and has never really concentrated on one discipline. With this training Saffiedine is a balanced fighter with a Black Belt in Shihaishinkai Karate and a Brown Belt in BJJ Saffiedine is very well-balanced. He has shown an affinity for finishing fights on the ground when he does finish fights early with five submission wins and one KO win. He is good in his standup but he might want to take the fight to the ground against Lim. Lim is a standup fighter with the power to end a fight with one punch. He has finished both of his UFC fights with KOs and has a total of 9 KO wins in his career. He will be looking to do one thing in this fight as he will look for the knockout. There is plenty to lose for both fighters in this main event as a loss will end the streaks that both fighters are on and will push them further down the list in the welterweight division. It seems though that most people are simply overlooking the skill of Lim and Saffiedine is one of these people. For that reason Hyun Gyu Lim will win this fight and announce his arrival for 2014 as a one to watch in the welterweight division with a 2nd round KO.

Saffiedine will not be the only UFC debut on the card though as two fighters will face off against each other for their first UFC fights. In one corner is a replacement fighter who will get his chance to make an impression on the UFC. Sean Soriano was clearly on the radar of the UFC as they would sign him to fight in the first event of 2014 after Hacran Dias dropped out due to injury. Now he gets a shot on a main card in the UFC and will try to show that he has what it takes to be a UFC fighter. The product of the Blackzilians has made a habit of finishing fights early but will now take on the toughest test of his very young career to try to prove that he belongs. He will take on Tatsuya Kawajiri who will make one of the most anticipated debuts in the UFC. Kawajiri is one of the best lighter fighters in the world but has rarely made it to the top of any promotion. He has beaten a who’s who of lighter weight fighters and is currently on a 5 fight win streak in DREAM and ONE FC and will make his debut in UFC looking to make a run at the title. At 35 years old Kawajiri is looking to make the UFC his last stop in his 13 year career and he hopes that it can lead to a championship in the featherweight division. He is a ground and pound specialist that will look to take Sean Soriano down to the mat and use his experience to control the fight. Both fighters have the ability to end a fight quickly but only one will be able to do so in this fight as it will be a classic matchup of rookie versus veteran. If Soriano can win, his name will immediately be put into the rising star category while if Kawajiri can win he will be put into the fighter rankings and will get the chance to make a run at the title. There will be plenty on the line for both fighters as they follow the pattern of the night with two fighters making their debut at the first fight of 2014


Fight Card

Main Event:
Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu “The Ace” Lim (Sportsnet 360/UFC Fight Pass)

Main Card:
Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri vs. Sean Soriano (Sportsnet 360/UFC Fight Pass)

Kiichi “Strasser” Kunimoto vs. Luiz “Besouro” Dutra (Sportsnet 360/UFC Fight Pass)

Kyung Ho “Mr. Perfect” Kang vs. Shunichi “Rolling Star” Shimizu (Sportsnet 360/UFC Fight Pass)

Max “Blessed” Holloway vs. Will “The Kill” Chope (UFC Fight Pass)

Katsunori Kikuno vs. Quinn Mulhern (UFC Fight Pass)

Royston Wee vs. Dave “Scarecrow” Galera (UFC Fight Pass)

Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov vs. Tae Hyun “Supernatural” Bang (UFC Fight Pass)

Dustin “The Diamond” Kimura vs. Jon Delos “The Heat” Reyes (UFC Fight Pass)

Leandro “Brodinho” Issa vs. Russell Doane (UFC Fight Pass)

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