I said that the prelims were probably worth skipping over when I gave my earlier analysis... and I'm glad to say that feel like I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, I realize that no one here is going to set the UFC on fire and become a household name... but household names aren't the only fighters capable of putting on a fun fight.
I will express a great amount of disappointment within myself though. I ended up being correct on exactly zero of my picks on the preliminaries. Calls for me to quit may occur at this point, but ya'll can bite me. Everyone has bad nights and I know that many others had similar views as I did.
Now for a closer look...
Nam came out on fire and absolutely dominated the first round. He ended up showing why you want to use technique and pace yourself though as he was unable to end the fight and ended up gassing himself, showing pretty much nothing after the first round. As a result, a much more paced Tokudome took control of the second round and kept Nam grounded the whole time. The third round went back and forth and though both were exhausted, went all the way to the end. In the end, Nam did just enough to pull it out in the early candidate for Fight of the Night.
Nam got lucky. A lot of people may disagree with me upon watching this match, but he threw everything he had in that first round and was lucky that he caught a second wind in the last round to allow him to squeak by a much more disciplined Tokudome. He won't be able to do that and expect to win very often, especially as his level of competition climbs. That isn't to say he didn't impress at all as he showed incredible strength and some solid wrestling as well. If he learns to pace himself and execute with technique, he could climb very high in the division. A fun match for him would be Rashid Magomedov who survived a hell of a predicament from Tony Martin in his UFC debut. Could he do the same with Nam?
Tokudome's stock went up in that loss. He showed he is among the toughest in the organization weathering a 1st round storm that very few could have weathered and coming back to damn near take the W away from Nam. In the end though, the beating he took early on was severe enough that it was affecting his performance late in the fight. Dana White loves guys that bring it though (remember how long he kept Leonard Garcia around?) and he'll be back. Where to go with him isn't so obvious. My best guess would be to match him up with the green Tony Martin.
Where has this Vaughan Lee been? Lee had a confidence and aggression that he had never previously shown inside the Octagon and took it to the always tough Phan. He had an air about him that screamed that he felt that he was untouchable... and he really seemed to be. He mixed up his strikes very efficiently attacking the body as well as the head and even through in some spinning kicks. Phan, despite not quitting as is always the case with him, never seemed to get into a rhythm. Anytime he landed something, Lee had a counter in the bag.
Lee has never looked better. His jab was much improved and was the biggest weapon against Phan being able to find a rhythm which ended up being key. He spent most of the fight stalking Phan which hasn't been his fighting style up to this point and though I would have likely laughed if you had told me he would have done that before the fight, he did it very effectively. He has talked about dropping down to the flyweight division which certainly seems to be a possibility for him as he has never been a large bantamweight. Louis Gaudinot and Phil Harris square off next week in England. The winner would be a great first test for Lee at flyweight.
Phan did what Phan does: absorb a lot of blows and prove why he is one of the toughest SOB's in the UFC. Problem is he needs to show more than just toughness if he wants to pick up some victories. He has some good offensive boxing once he finds his range, but his defense is horrible as every match he ends up eating more shots than anyone should. The loss puts him at 2-6 in the UFC and a very likely candidate to get cut. It isn't that I dislike him... but I would feel the fact that most of his opponents seem to have the fight of their lives against him is a bad indicator of the caliber of fighter he is. The best way for me to put it: I'm not even going to recommend a next opponent.
Wang came out aggressive and showed a lot more to his striking than he displayed on the reality show. Time well spent after the conclusion apparently. He landed some efficient head kicks and punches to completely swell up Cheng's eye to the point that he could no longer see out of it and have the doctor call an end to the match. Cheng didn't want the match to stop to give him some credit, but he looked very tentative out there and the fact that he wasn't able to land a takedown spelled doom for him.
Wang is just 22 years old. Aside from his nationality, that is the best thing that he has going for him. Cheng was far from a UFC caliaber fighter, but was a nice victory to have under his belt nonetheless. If China can develop some decent coaching and fight camps, Wang could end up making some noise. I'd be patient with him though and make sure not to throw him in the deep end yet... which might mean not matching him up with anyone on the current roster. Li Peng Zhang (the TUF winner) is the only possible opponent I could think of. I still think it would be better to wait and let him develop and have him face a debutant.
Cheng never showed a whole lot on his feet whether it be on the show or in his few fights previous. But the fact that he had a better feel for the MMA scene being from North America should have made a difference and it didn't. He's a natural lightweight which might get him one more opportunity, but at 29 and with time already spent with a North American camp, I really don't think that it will.
Mark Eddiva defeated Tuerxun Jumabieke via Decision
Now I feel stupid. I pointed out that Jumabieke struggled with range and similar to what Eddiva possesses and I picked him to win anyway. Damn. Live and learn. Eddiva showed a lot more strength than what I expected and kept constant pressure on Jumabieke. I had ripped on Eddiva's wrestling too, but he showed much better technique than what he had previously shown. Eddiva's striking looked much better than before as well. Basically, the three years since Eddiva last fought have been well spent improving in all phases of his game.
At 28, Eddiva isn't the greatest prospect considering where he is at for this stage of his career. But he is certainly capable of developing into a division mainstay for the Asian cards. Even though I don't think he is going to be an awesome prospect, he can still get better than what he is at this point and become a stiff challenge for anyone. He was lucky he wasn't penalized for some of the shots he landed such as a knee to the face of his grounded opponent. He'll need to make sure he cleans up his game in the process or he'll become the new version of Maximo Blanco. There doesn't seem to be another fighter on the roster I would want to match him up with... unless the TUF China featherweight final takes place soon. Whoever wins between Ning Guangyou and Jianping Yang would be a good choice for Eddiva's next opponent.
I was very surprised at how stiff Jumabieke looked on his feet and his lack of strength. I'll admit that he is a natural bantamweight and that it is only natural that he got outmuscled... but the wrestling he had previously shown indicated that he shouldn't have been manhandled as he was. His nationality will buy him some time, but he'll need to show better technique if he wants to be a staple. Michinori Tanaka is a recent UFC signing from Japan. I'm not sure when the next Asian card is expected to take place, but this would be an ideal fight for the two youngsters.