I totally admit it. I'm embarrassed. I went 2-6 on this card. My pride is very much wounded at this point. I thought I had been doing a solid job. Not great, but solid. Then this card decides to come around and kick me square in the balls. Oh well. Not much I can do now. Just own up to it I guess. The only consolidation I have is that the card was full of upsets and though I'm sure everyone did a better job in their picks than me, I don't think it was that much better.
There wasn't a single household name on the card, but that doesn't mean that there wasn't fighters worth mentioning. Dong Hyun Kim established himself as a legitimate name to throw around for title contention in the welterweight division with his second straight devastating KO and Matt Mitrione and Hatsu Hioki ended (hopefully) a recent losing spell for the both of them that could have put them on the unemployment line had they fallen short. Oh yeah, there was the TUF China welterweight final that ended with a close but controversial decision. Considering the idea of the show was to generate interest for China in MMA, this could have some backlash as judging matters have been known to upset more than a fan or two. Lets hope it doesn't derail interest there.
Here's a little more depth:
* indicates I was right in my pick... as embarrassing as it is.
*Dong Hyun Kim defeated John Hathaway via KO 3rd Round
Despite coming off of an impressive KO victory over Erick Silva, no one wanted to label Kim as a KO artist. After his performance against Hathaway, we may have to change that. In what may be the most impressive spinning elbow KO (for those that want to point out Jon Jones, I said KO) in UFC history, Kim picked up a hard earned victory over a very tough opponent. Both fighters were looking to score the KO blow throughout the first two rounds, slugging it out like they were heavyweights and rocking one another multiple times.
Whether or not the victory is enough to get him into the top ten is up for debate, but Kim's name is going to be watched closely over his next few fights and he could challenge for the title with two or three more wins. I can't help but worry that he is turning into a headhunter though as he swung for the fences multiple times. Though he connected often, that isn't the best game plan to take into a fight. We'll have to see what he does in his next fight, but he can't become home run happy if he wants to make a serious run at the title. There is no doubt that he deserves a top ten opponent for his next outing. There are two great options for him. Tarec Saffiedine squares of with Jake Ellenberger at UFC 172. The winner of that makes a lot of sense. But my favorite is Matt Brown. The two have already met, but it was 5 years ago with Kim taking a contentious decision. I'm sure Brown would love another shot at Kim.
Hathaway has nothing to hang his head about. The elbow that Kim landed on him was sneaky as hell and sometimes, ya just get caught. He landed some shots that rocked Kim as well and landed some takedowns that seemed easy on an opponent that is notoriously hard to get to the ground. If he has his health issues under control and can start fighting more regularly, expect him to emerge in the top 15 fairly soon. Don't forget that he is still only 26 even though he has been in the UFC for over 5 years now. Hyun Gyu Lim is also a big welterweight coming of a main event loss in China. It would be a tough match up for the both of them with the winner likely emerging in the top 15.
Lipeng Zhang defeated Wang Sai via Decision
It seems that the time spent between the taping of TUF China and the finale was spent well by its finalists as both showed improvement from their time on the show up until now. Zhang was able to take Sai down with greater ease than expected and had some close calls with submissions, including a RNC in the first that most figured was the end of the fight. Sai was able to use size and strength to overpower Zhang and most felt that he did enough to walk out of the Octagon with the W. When the scorecards were read the fans were quick to voice their displeasure as a cascade of boos rained down.
Zhang could end up being a heel (through no fault of his own) due to the fact that most felt Sai deserved the decision. Though I felt that Sai got the W as well, Zhang was much more aggressive going for subs and takedowns and was much closer to ending the fight. Though he is a TUF champion now, he is still fairly inexperienced and at 23, has time to improve. Anying Wang was a fellow castmate and ended up getting a victory on the card as well. The best thing to do is to take it slow with the both of them and matching them up with one another is a good way to do so.
Sai should end up getting another shot in the Octagon. The fact that many feel he won the match should guarantee that. He isn't as young as Sai and thus may have a lower ceiling. But with proper coaching and a good gym, I could see him developing into a low level mainstay in the division. While some may see that as a slap in the face, I consider it to be a compliment considering where China's development in MMA is at right now. Takenori Sato had about as disappointing of a UFC debut as one can have. He is a former Pancrase champion though so he shouldn't be a cupcake by any means. I think Sai could make a match of it with Sato.
Neither one of these guys wanted to work 15 minutes to earn their paycheck. Lucky for Mitrione, he didn't even have to go 5 minutes. In what had been a very close round for the first 4 minutes 40 seconds, Mitrione was able to catch Jordan against the fence with about 20 seconds left in the opening round to hurt him and followed him after he knew he hurt him to finish him off with a series of punishment against the fence that resulted in Jordan losing his mouth guard before all was said and done.
Mitrione seems to have found his niche as a mid-tier gatekeeper. He'll never be an elite heavyweight, but he'll be sure to keep those that shouldn't be there either from getting there. Most of his fights end with someone being KO'd though, so most people will turn in to watch that. Ben Rothwell has been in a similar situation as Mitrione for a while now as he has beaten non-contenders, but falls short when forced to step it up. Rothwell's suspension for elevated testosterone ends as soon as June hits. The timing should work out well enough to match them up.
Its doubtful that Jordan will ever become a contender as many hoped that he would. His athleticism has had many excited about him, but it seems his short reach has been too much for him to overcome against his lankier foes. Considering he is easily one of the shorter heavyweights in the division, his ceiling is very limited now. Considering the lack of depth in the division though, he isn't going anywhere yet. Geronimo Dos Santos has been on the UFC roster for a while now, but hasn't stepped inside the Octagon yet for health reasons. If they are in the past, (and I think that they are) then Jordan would be a good choice to give him a proper welcome.
*Hatsu Hioki defeated Ivan Menjivar via Decision
I was happy with this fight. Hioki showed more urgency in this fight than he had previously shown in any of his other UFC appearances going for submissions at the expense of losing his dominant position. Though Hioki wasn't able to get the finish, it was refreshing to see him go after it. Menjivar almost got the finish himself when he landed a very hard counter right hand that dropped Hioki, but Hioki was able to recover and ride out the rest of the round. Before that point though, Hioki was able to use his massive size advantage to outmuscle Menjivar to the ground and utilize top position for most of the first two rounds. A very fun fight between two very game opponents.
Hioki got a much needed victory and avoided his fourth straight loss as a result. He still has yet to be apart of a finish in the UFC though and that might be the best thing for him if he wants to gain some serious traction in the division coming off of his losing streak. But as already mentioned, the fact he was being aggressive going for the submission is a good start though. Dennis Bermudez and Jimy Hettes face off in the middle of the month and the winner of that match would be an appropriate next opponent for Hioki.
Menjivar could very well be done in the Octagon. I mentioned in my preview that I didn't understand his move up in weight as he had problems with larger opponents at bantamweight and again had issues with Hioki's size. Most (if not all) of his opponents at featherweight will have a size advantage over him. He is a tough out for anyone, there is no doubt about that. But that was his third straight loss and fourth in five tries. Sean Soriano recently pulled out of a bout due to injury. If Menjivar survives being cut, he makes a good option.
Record for Card: 2-6
Record for Year: 51-25
Go ahead and leave any comments making fun of my dumb ass below... I deserve it this time.