Impressive Showing in Macao (TUF China Finale Review)

tuf_china_finaleThe UFC would travel once again to Asia as it is clear that they are trying to grow the sport in a MMA crazy region. Asia was the home of Pride Fighting Championship and is still the home of many big fight promotions. The UFC is looking to become one of those promotions as they continue to try to grow their brand in the region. That is a big task for the UFC as they continue to try to make UFC the global brand for MMA and to do that they will need stars from all over the world. The USA, Canada, Brazil, and Britain have these stars but there are no major UFC stars from Asia. The UFC has had a tendency to sign superstars from the region that are nearing the end of their careers. These are big names in Asia but they never match the hype that they come into the UFC with. There has yet to be an Asian champion in the UFC and rarely has an Asian fighter been able to move up the rankings to earn a title shot. One of the major reasons is that the UFC does not have any young talent from the region instead having a host of older fighters. These older fighters cannot compete in the best promotion in the world as they take on young fighters with a new set of skills. The UFC would look to change that this year as they would begin to give younger fighters a chance from the region and plans to host a number of fights in the region to give these fighters a bit of a home advantage in not having to travel to North America to fight. The UFC would take their second of a planned 7 trips to Asia in 2014 when they traveled to Macao to see the end of another strategy to improve fighters from the region. The UFC has resorted to one strategy to improve their roster time and time again as they resort to the reality show to try to add new exciting fighters to the roster. The Ultimate Fighter has done a lot for the UFC as it would be the first step in becoming one of the biggest sports in the world. The first season of the reality show would see Forest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar fight in the most important match in the history of the UFC. Since then the show has added great fighters in every season. So when the UFC looked to try to add some great Asian fighters to their roster they would naturally look to the show that has provided great fighters in the past. The Ultimate Fighter China was created to provide some of the small name fighters from the region a chance to earn a UFC contract. There would be two contracts up for grabs on the season as Featherweights and Welterweights would fight it out to try to earn a contract. In the end four fighters would get the chance at The Ultimate Fighter China Finale in Macao. Yang Jianping and Ning Guangyou would take their opportunity and move into the Featherweight finals. Unfortunately the fight would have to be cancelled due to an injury of one of the fighters, the fighter was not revealed, leaving only one contract fight on the card. Wang Sai and Zhang Lipeng would become the only fighters looking for a contract at the Finale as the two welterweights would represent the future of the UFC in Asia. Both fighters went through the show on a tear as neither would let a fight finish in the hands of the judges. Wang Sai would finish his first fight with a TKO in the second round while his second fight would finish with a submission. For Lipeng it was a similar story as he would finish both of his fights on the show with submissions. Now both fighters would face off to become the latest fighter to earn a UFC contract and both would look to do it with a finish to show what they can bring to the promotion. The fight would see Zhang Lipeng come out quickly to take the fight to the ground where he believed he had the advantage. Sinking in a tight rear naked choke Lipeng looked to end the fight quickly but it wasn’t to be. Wang Sai would escape from the submission attempt and get on top. Sai would stay on top for the majority for the first round and would see much of the same for most of the fight. Lipeng would continue to try to take the fight to the ground with Sai eventually getting on top and fighting in the guard. It was a tight fight though as Lipeng would continue to try to get submissions when he could while Sai would try to get his ground and pound going. In the end it looked like Sai had taken the win after losing the first round but when the decision came in it was Lipeng that had been named the winner. It was a controversial victory for Lipeng but one that would earn him a UFC contract. Now Lipeng will enter the very talented welterweight division and look to begin moving up and try to become the first Asian UFC champion. Wang Sai could likely get another look at some point in the UFC especially with such a close fight as The Ultimate Fighter China is sure to bring in a number of great Asian fighters as the UFC continues to try to build their following in the region.

Although there are not a lot of stars from Asia in the UFC there are a handful of fighters that could become superstars in the UFC. These fighters are working their way up the rankings and trying to get noticed among the great talent across all divisions in the promotion. One of these fighters is Dong Hyun Kim who sits as the #11 ranked welterweight in the UFC ad would have a chance to try and move up the rankings closer to home. The product of South Korea has been successful when he fights in Asia as he has won all three of his last fights with two of those fights in Asia. Now he looks to continue the pattern in Macao and put his fourth straight win together to try and move into the top 10 in the division. A win would make Kim a potential contender in the division as he could impress the matchmakers and begin to face some serious competition to begin his run. In his way was another fighter looking to begin a run after stringing together three straight wins. John Hathaway is unranked in the welterweight division but with three straight wins is looking to get among the top 15 fighters in the division. He would get the chance in taking on one of the top 15 in the division in a great chance for him to be seen as a fighter to watch. Both fighters would come out looking to put on a great fight and not only win but impress. Hathaway would eat some big shots from Kim from the very start of the fight but he would remain standing. As the fight went on Hathaway would look to get more comfortable in the octagon and would start to come back in the striking game. Then in the third round as Hathaway threw an elbow Kim would counter with a spinning elbow that would end the fight immediately. It was a thrilling end to a great fight but for Hathaway it was a bad return to the octagon and will not move into the top 15 of the division. For Kim his second KO in a row will definitely put him into the top 10 of the division as he will begin to fight ranked opponents to try to earn a title shot. It was a great end to a great card as the UFC would continue their march to becoming a big promotion in Asia with the second fight this year in Asia.


Fight Bonuses

Performance of the Night
The main event would provide a very early candidate for KO of the year as Dong Hyun Kim would earn the KO win over John Hathaway with a spinning back elbow that would earn him an extra $50,000 for the performance of the night

Performance of the Night
Matt Mitrione and Shawn Jordan would come into the TUF China Finale with plenty of expectations as this fight was supposed to end early and Matt Mitrione would take care of that earning the KO and a $50,000 bonus for his efforts

Fight of the Night
The last fight of the undercard would take the last bonus of the night as Yui Chui Nam and Kazuki Tokudome would both take home and extra $50,000 for their three round split decision with Nam on the winning end


Fight Results

Main Event:
Dong “Stun Gun” Hyun Kim def. John “The Hitman” Hathaway
(KO; Rd. 3)

Main Card:
“The Warrior” Zhang Lipeng def. Wang “The Fire Kylin” Sai
(Split Decision)

Matt Mitrione def. Shawn “The Savage” Jordan
(KO; Rd. 1)

Hatsu Hioki def. Ivan “The Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar
(Unanimous Decision)

“The Korean Bulldozer” Yui Chui Nam def. Kazuki Tokudome
(Split Decision)

Vaughn Lee def. Nam Phan
(Unanimous Decision)

Wang “Smiley” Anying def. Albert Cheng
(TKO; Rd. 1)

Mark Eddiva def. Jumabieke Tuerxun
(Unanimous Decision)


Upcoming Events

UFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa (Saturday March 8th; 3:00 pm ET)
London, England (The O2 Arena)
Main Event: Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson vs. Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa
Notable: Michael “The Menace” Johnson vs. Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard
Notable: Brad “One Punch” Pickett vs. Neil “2Tap” Seery

UFC 171: Hendricks vs. Lawler (Saturday March 15th; 10:00 pm ET)
Dallas, Texas (American Airlines Center)
Main Event: Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks vs. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler [Welterweight Title]
Notable: Jake Shields vs. Hector “Lightning” Lombard
Notable: Diego “The Dream” Sanchez vs. Myles “Fury” Jury

UFC Fight Night 38: Rua vs. Henderson (Sunday March 23rd; 7:00 pm ET)
Natal, Brazil (Ginásio Nélio Dias)
Main Event: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson
Notable: Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira vs. CB “The Doberman” Dollaway
Notable: Leonardo Santos vs. “Stormin” Norman Parke

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