I'm not going to lie... you would probably be best served to sleep through these prelims as there isn't a whole lot on the line here. Only two of the eight fighters featured have UFC experience and there is a grand total of two victories between them. Normally I would try to convince you to watch for a prospect who could set the UFC on fire in a year or two... but I don't think any of these guys will do that.
Nonetheless, I'm sure that there are some of you (likely numbering in the single digits) who will watch and others who simply want an idea of what to expect for fantasy purposes. I get it. Rather than try to prop the prelims up after I just tore them down, I'm a gonna just get down to the nitty gritty and tell you what you can expect.
Its a battle of Asian superiority as representatives from South Korea (Nam) and Japan (Tokudome) square off in what will be an aggressive affair.
Nam is like a young kid waiting for Christmas: incapable of understanding the need for patience. As soon as the bell rings he is in his opponents face either swinging for the fences or diving in for a takedown. Its a good thing he is strong for the weight class, otherwise he'd find little if any success doing this. Problem is, like most who come out like a cannon, he doesn't have a lot of technique in either his takedowns or punches. Thus why most of his striking success seems to come in the clinch as the closer range leaves smaller margin for error. His takedowns are all predicated on pure athleticism and his punches he wild swings... and they lose what little technique he puts into them the deeper the match goes. He does have good GNP and shows ability to finish with a submission (though he only has one victory that way), but has given up position while being to busy in his attempt to rain down punches. Again, it all comes down to technique with Nam. He's been able to survive without it up to this point... but entering the UFC he'll need it more than ever.
Tokudome is very technically sound, especially when you compare him to Nam. He doesn't have the same raw power than Nam possesses, but is still more than capable of flooring his opponent. See what proper technique can do? He employs mostly boxing, but does mix in some kicks to all levels. He can be suckered into brawls though and I would expect that to happen with Nam. His striking defense is bad though as gets caught standing still far too often, fails to tuck his chin, and makes it easy to play face punchies on him, though his chin has shown to be fairly sturdy. With a black belt in judo, he is adept at trips and body-lock takedowns to get the fight to the ground and is good about staying busy with his adequate GNP. He'll get lazy at times on the floor and leave openings for his opponents to reverse position.
This should be a fun fight with good action between the two. Both show good chins and have tendencies to brawl and I expect it to degenerate into that. I also expect their chins to hold though and think that Tokudome will land more punches, thus scoring more points. Takedowns? Oh yeah, I should have mentioned Tokudome is pretty good at stopping them. Tokudome by Decision
A TUF veteran clashes with an undefeated prospect(?) at welterweight in what figures to be a fun grappling match.
Cummings is one of the more unheralded names to come out of season 17. The fact that he won his UFC debut over Benny Alloway won't turn any heads, but when you look at the names of the men he has lost to (Tim Kennedy, Elvis Mutapcic, and Ryan Jimmo), then you get an idea of what a tough out that he is as only Kennedy was able to finish him. The only way to describe his style is a grinder: he closes the distance and tries to take you down. Being a fairly large welterweight helps him in this strategy. If unsuccessful in that he pushes you against the fence while continuing to try and get the fight to the floor. He isn't inept at striking from a distance (as his entrance fight into the TUF house shows), but he knows his strengths (striking from a distance not one of them) and sticks to them. Though adept at all types of submissions, chokes are his specialty.
Mina is a highly decorated BJJ practitioner whose strength is his submission abilities. Aggression is the name of the game with Mina as he presses forward to get the fight to the ground in an attempt to submit his opponents. If he is unable to submit his opponent he has adequate GNP. As for his ability to get the fight to the ground, he is a black belt in judo (just as he is in BJJ) and is excellent in executing his trips to get his opponent down. His striking has been a work in progress, but it is progressing. His last fight with Glenn Sparv transitioned from the ground to standing and he finished with strikes largely to the body. The technique wasn't great, but it was efficient enough to score a stoppage. He has never been in a fight that has gone the distance, so cardio may be an issue for him.
I worry about Mina's level of competition and gas tank going into this fight. Cummings has fought higher level opponents and hasn't embarrassed himself. Cummings wrestling isn't great, but its efficient enough that he should be able to stifle most of Mina's attacks and I'd say he has the advantage in the striking. Cummings by Decision
This is going to be a painful bout to watch as neither of these TUF China alumni are ready to face a true UFC caliber fighter. I hate to be a dick about it... but its the truth. I was hoping they would go the route of TUF 16 and not show any of the other fighters from the season... but what can you do?
Cheng is originally out of Canada so he has a better grasp of the sport than the majority of the rest of the cast. Despite that advantage, it didn't seem like he had much if any experience with the sport despite having trained in it (or claimed to) for roughly 10 years. He is a natural lightweight so if you think he looks small for the weight you are totally right. Easily the best thing that Cheng does is operate a powerful double leg to get the fight down on the ground. Not much else that you can claim is very good. His GNP is very slow and tentative and if the ref treats this match like any other match, he'll be stood up shortly thereafter. He looked incredibly uncomfortable on his feet early on, but showed more comfort as the show progressed to the point he didn't look afraid to string a combo together.
Wang looks as though he will have a size advantage in this match, but it doesn't seem as though that will have a whole lot of bearing in this as I struggle to see his takedown defense being solid enough to stop Cheng's double leg. He scored a surprisingly easy reversal on the ground showing some ability there, but not much else beyond that. He gave his only opponent on the show too much respect on the feet, but showed some potential. He has more raw power in his hands than Cheng and did a fairly effective job of measuring distance to score with his leg kicks. Outside of a flurry, he never really landed anything useful on the feet.
Both fighters think too much to truly be effective and I fear the winner of the fight will merely be fodder for a future opponent while the loser goes home. I'll say that Cheng has greater control of where the fight takes place and thus controls his own destiny. Cheng by Decision
A couple of undefeated (and relatively unknown in North America) Asian prospects open the card. What else is there to say?
Jumabieke is the better known of the two fighters here as he is a former Legend FC champion and the top bantamweight in China. Watching him it is obvious that he has a background in wrestling as his most effective weapon is a powerful and explosive double leg takedown. After he scores the takedown he is very methodical in advancing his position and landing GNP so he gets stood up a lot as a result. His standup is raw for someone undefeated as long as he has been. He struggles with lengthy opponents and primarily just wings overhands hoping that they connect. There is a bit of power behind them fortunately, but not a lot of accuracy. When in trouble, he either shoots for the takedown or clinches up against the fence to stall. He has shown counter-punching ability, but needs to become more active in countering or he'll get beat up more than is necessary playing with the big boys. Actually, he just needs to become more active in his striking in general. About 16 months will have passed since his last fight so ring rust could play a factor since a contract dispute was at the heart of the inactivity.
Eddiva has been fighting at featherweight, but it doesn't seem he'll have a strength advantage. He will have a length advantage (why I mentioned Jumabieke's struggles with length earlier) and though he seems capable of hurting his opponent with his punches, he is constantly looking to get the fight to the ground and struggles in transitioning from striking to grappling. Translation: he takes a lot of damage in the process. His chin has served him well thus far, but testing it is never a good strategy. What is worse is the process in which he gets his opponents down involves slim-and-none wrestling technique. Considering his last official MMA fight was 3 years ago it could have improved since then... but I wouldn't hold my breath. His grappling is fundamentally good (not great), but he'll need to rely on his opponent leaving themselves open for the submission rather than creating one himself. His GNP is busy, but not powerful.
There isn't much to get excited about here. Both fighters are incredibly raw and will get eaten alive by your standard UFC fighter if they don't improve quickly. At least against one another they have a chance to win. Eddiva's lack of wrestling will undo him here. Jumabieke will be able to ground him all he wants. Jumabieke by TKO 2nd Round
Record for last Card: 10-1
Record for Year: 49-19
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