New Year, New Opportunities (UFC Fight Night 34 Review)

ufc_fn34The UFC would kick off 2014 with their first fight in Southeast Asia as a new year marks a new opportunity for the UFC and for fighters in the UFC. Unlike many sports the UFC does not have a season as they run year by year and so when a new year comes along it marks an unofficial new start for many fighters. The year will begin a year for some fighters to try to make an impression and will give plenty of opportunities. Fighters can begin to move up the rankings and earn title shots or just simply get themselves out of the undercards and put everyone on notice. This can be any fighter’s year if they can take control of their own destiny. It has happened before as fighters have taken control of a year and made it there year moving from obscurity to star. Now in 2014 there are plenty of fighters looking to make the same impression in the UFC and at UFC Fight Night 34 these fighters were everywhere. As the UFC opened a new year with an event in Southeast Asia there were plenty of fighters making their debut. Like many fights that are not in Western Europe or North America the UFC would load the card with fighters that had never fought in the UFC. They would give a chance to some local fighters who had made their way through lower ranks. Two of these fighters would be in the main event as Tarec Saffiedine and Hyun Gyu Lim would be featured in the first main event of the year. For Lim it was not a debut but instead a chance to start off his year right and begin climbing into the title conversation for the year. With two wins already in the UFC Lim would just be looking to make an impression as a fill-in for the injured Jake Ellenberger. With the chance Lim would hope to take advantage and get his first win of the year to make everyone notice that he was ready for some tougher competition in the welterweight division. Meanwhile Tarec Saffiedine would be making his UFC debut as the 10th ranked fighter in the welterweight division after coming in from Strikeforce as the welterweight champion. This fight was an opportunity to move up the rankings and begin earning respect after pending a year out of fighting. If he could get a win in this fight it would mean a good beginning to a potential title run with the division in transition after Georges St. Pierre stepped aside. The two fighters were a bit of a mystery to many UFC fans coming in as they had not been seen all that much. They would represent two different styles of fighting as Saffiedine was a well-rounded technical fighter while Lim was a one-dimensional fighter with a great one dimension. Saffiedine has great standup but is not a knockout artist as he chooses to pick apart his opponents with leg kicks and quick shots. He also has the ability to take the fight to the ground and submit his opponents if he wants to take the fight to the ground. Meanwhile Lim is a KO specialist with the power to end fights in one punch. He would do exactly that in his first two UFC fights earning KOs in both and would look to do the same in this fight. The fight would see both fighters deciding to stand and trade as they would both showcase their standup game. Lim would look for the big punch while he stood with Saffiedine but the former Strikeforce champion would see a different strategy. Saffiedine would pick apart Lim on the feet throwing short hooks and taking away Lim’s legs with kicks. It wasn’t until the third round that Saffiedine would take the third to the ground but it would not stay their very long. Then Saffiedine’s deliberate pace would begin to take its toll as the leg kicks would begin to really hurt Lim. Saffiedine continued to chop at Lim and eventually Lim would be sent down with a leg kick. The fight would stay on the ground for a while and when it went back to the feet Lim was clearly limping and feeling the effects of the multiple leg kicks of Saffiedine. The fight would continue in a similar fashion as Saffiedine would continue to pick apart Lim and continue to throw leg kicks that wobbled Lim. Then Lim would come alive in the 5th round unleashing a barrage of strikes and stunning Saffiedine. It would not be enough though as the fight would go the distance and Saffiedine would survive the late barrage and earning the unanimous decision. For Lim it was a show of heart that will keep him in good fights as he would show that he has what it takes to put on great fights. Saffiedine takes the win and will be sure to move up the welterweight rankings as he looks to fight tougher competition and move into the title conversation this year.

There was more than one anticipate debut at UFC Fight Night 34 with more fighters looking to make the UFC notice them. Two of these fighters would be in the co-main event of the evening when Tatsuya Kawajiri and Sean Soriano faced off. Kawajiri has been one of the best fighters in the Asian circuit for years and at nearly 40 he was looking to make an impression in his UFC debut. Meanwhile Sean Soriano had fought local fights in Florida but not much more and would get the chance of a lifetime to show he belongs in the UFC. Soriano was a new pro from the Blackzillians camp that was looking to take his chance to show that he belonged in the UFC. Kawajiri was a veteran looking to show that he belongs in the promotion and belongs at the top of the division. It was experience versus youth as both fighters were looking to show they belonged in the UFC as they went out to prove something. Only one would do that though as both fighters entered with only one coming out on top. Throughout the fight Sean Soriano looked good as he seemed to be ready to fight with Kawajiri but the veteran’s experience would prove to be just too much for the young fighter. Kawajiri would end the fight in the second round with a rear-naked choke that would put him in the win column and ruin the chance for Soriano. Still Soriano showed promise and although he will likely not get a main card fight again for a while he will likely remain in the UFC and get a chance to make up for his loss. Kawajiri will now look towards fighting top ten fighters to begin a run at the title as he looks to earn the biggest award in MMA, a UFC belt. The opening fight of the year was a chance for many fighters to make an impression on the promotion. Some fighters would take full advantage showing what they could do while others would fall short and may never return to the UFC as a new year has started and there are plenty of fighters around the world looking for a spot in the top promotion in the world.


Fight Bonuses

Submission of the Night:
The Night would open with a finish and would begin a bit of a theme as Russell Doane earned a submission win against Leandro Issa and although there were plenty to choose from it was Doane that earned the extra $50,000 bonus

Knockout of the Night:
Max Holloway would close out the premiere of UFC Fight Pass in the undercard and he would do it in a big way when he earned an extra $50,000 for his second round TKO win over Will Chope

Fight of the Night:
The main event would see much of the fight dominated by Saffiedine but it was the barrage from Hyun Gyu Lim at the end of the fight and the heart of Lim that would help both fighters earn an extra $50,000 for the Fight of the Night


Fight Results

Main Event:
Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine def. Hyun Gyu “The Ace” Lim
(Unanimous Decision)

Main Card:
Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri def. Sean Soriano
(Submission; Rear Naked Choke, Rd. 2)

“Strasser” Kiichi Kunimoto def. Luiz “Besouro” Dutra
(Disqualification; Illegal Elbows)

“Mr. Perfect” Kyung Ho Kang def. Shunichi “Rolling Star” Shimizu
(Submission; Arm Triangle, Rd. 3)

Max “Blessed” Holloway def. Will “The Kill” Chope
(TKO; Rd. 2)

Katsunori Kikuno def. Quinn Mulhern
(Unanimous Decision)

Royston Wee def. Dave “Scarecrow” Galera
(Unanimous Decision)

Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov def. Tae Hyun “Supernatural” Bang
(Unanimous Decision)

Dustin “The Diamond” Kimura def. Jon Delos “The Heat” Reyes
(Submission; Armbar, Rd. 1)

Russell Doane def. Leandro “Brodinho” Issa
(Submission; Triangle Choke, Rd. 2)


Upcoming Events:

UFC Fight Night 35: Rockhold vs. Philippou (Wednesday January 15th; 7:00 pm ET)
Duluth, Georgia (The Arena at Gwinett Center)
Main Event: Luke Rockhold vs. Costas Philippou
Notable: Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin vs. Brad Tavares
Notable: TJ Dillashaw vs. Mike “The Hulk” Easton

UFC on Fox 10: Henderson vs. Thomson (Saturday January 25th; 8:00 pm ET)
Chicago, Illinois (United Center)
Main Event: Benson “Smooth” Henderson vs. Josh “The Punk” Thomson
Notable: Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga
Notable: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins

UFC 169: Cruz vs. Barao (Saturday February 1st; 10:00 pm ET)
Newark, New Jersey (Prudential Center)
Main Event: Dominick Cruz vs. Renan “The Baron” Barao [Bantamweight Title]
Notable: Jose “Junior” Aldo vs. Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas [Featherweight Title]
Notable: Frank Mir vs. Alistair “The Reem” Overeem

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