It turns out the Korean judoka in Dong Hyun Kim might be turning out to be something of a striker.
Fresh off of his stunning knockout win over Erick Silva from UFC Fight Night 29 in October, Kim managed to score another one-strike KO victory as he flattened John Hathaway with a spinning back elbow in the third round of their bout at The Ultimate Fighter: China Finale in Macau, China on Saturday.
It was a fairly even affair for the first two rounds. Kim managed to score with heavy, aggressive punches in the first frame, but Hathaway was determined to pin the Korean to the fence where he scored a quick takedown and short shots from inside the clinch. Kim managed to create space, however, and dropped Hathaway with an overhand punch. From his back, the Brit ate hard, winging shots from Kim as he stood over him, all of which included an axe kick that landed.
In the second frame, things evened out a bit as Hathaway had more success standing and moving away from the wild strikes of Kim. Still, Kim was able to trip Hathaway to the mat towards the end of the round where he worked a series of control positions and attacks from both knee on belly as well as side control.
By the third round, Kim's wide open style finally paid dividends. As Hathaway moved forward with an over the top elbow, Kim responded with an elbow of his own, this one a spinning attack. The elbow cracked the Englishman directly on the face, dropping him to the canvas and putting him directly to sleep. The end came officially at 1:02 of the third round.
"I cannot tell you how happy I am. I think I draw from the energy of all the fans that come from Korea to watch this and from all the Asian fans," Kim said post-fight via translator. "There's no stopping. I'm going to continue to go forward, forward, forward."
When asked he he'd prefer to face next, Kim said it didn't matter. All he was focused on was getting a shot at the welterweight title. "I don't care who it is. I want to get a shot at the title. I don't care who my next opponent will be."
The victory moves Kim to 19-2-1 with 1 no-contest in MMA while Hathaway drops to 17-2.
A new The Ultimate Fighter winner was crowned, this time being welterweight Zhang Lipeng, who won the first Chinese version of the American television show. He fought a closely contested bout with fellow finalist Wang Sai, who struggled early in their contest, but managed a strong showing towards the end of the fight. Lipeng was able to use takedowns and top control with very close submission attempts early, but gassed as Sai demonstrated superior conditioning. By the end of the third round, Zhang was holding on to rubber guard as a much fresher, more active Wang pounded from on top. In the end, though, it was Zhang who claimed the victory taking a split decision victory 29-28, 27-30 and 29-28.
Matt Mitrione got back on the winning track with a first-round stoppage of Shawn Jordan. Pressing Jordan into the fence (after eating a few of Jordan's left hands earlier in the round), Mitrione cracked Jordan with a left that connected to the side or temple of Jordan's head. Clearly hurt, Mitrione followed up with a flurry of punches that had Jordan in full retreat. Ultimately, though, he had nowhere to go as Mitrione, smelling blood, pounced on his hurt opponent with a series of unanswered strikes that sent Jordan crashing to the mat, forcing a referee stoppage just one second prior to the end of the round. Mitrione's stoppage comes officially at 4:59 of the first round.
Opening the main card was a featherweight contest between grappling-savvy veterans Hatsu Hioki and Ivan Menjivar. It'd be the Japanese fighter, however, who did most of the controlling. Menjivar was rarely ever able to create space to strike effectively from the outside and when they clinched, Hioki was able to use his superior trips and positional control to threaten Menjivar round after round. Menjivar did have a good third round outing, dropping Hioki with a right hand after a caught kick that sent the Japanese grappler to the floor and cut him open rather badly. Menjivar even attempted a late heel hook, but it wasn't close enough and ran out of time.
Hioki earned a unanimous decision nod over Menjivar, claiming 29-28 all on three judges' scorecards.