Saturday’s TUF China Finale featured a Korean bulldozer slugging, an Englishman dominating, a Boilermaker besting a Tiger, and a one-of-a-kind finish in the main event.
* Vaughan Lee put together the most impressive striking performance of his UFC career in a completely dominant victory over Nam Phan. Coming into their bout Saturday, it was Phan who had made a name for himself with huge striking outputs. Phan has authored four performances in the UFC where he landed 100-plus significant strikes, a record tied with Georges St-Pierre and Chris Lytle, but it was Lee who racked up the strikes. Lee finished with 142 significant strikes landed, the third-most ever landed by a UFC/WEC bantamweight in a single fight. It wasn’t that Lee out-paced Phan, he completely ran away with the fight. Phan was able to connect on just 24 strikes of his own. The plus-118 significant strike differential for Lee is tied for the second largest in UFC history with Cyrille Diabate (over Steve Cantwell) at UFC on Versus 3 and Jessica Andrade (over Rosi Sexton) at UFC Fight Night 30. Lee’s previous UFC best was 29 significant strikes landed against Chris Cariaso in a split decision loss at UFC 138 in Lee’s debut.
* Yui Chul Nam made quite an impression in the opening frame of his lightweight bout with Kazuki Tokudome. Nam finished the first five minutes with three knockdowns of Tokudome, becoming just the 11th fighter in UFC history to knock an opponent down three times in a round. After three rounds, Nam earned the victory but not a finish. Of the 11 rounds featuring three knockdowns, nine ended by knockout. Only Nam and Gray Maynard (UFC 125) failed to finish their opponent despite knocking them down three times in a round.
* Matt Mitrione once again reminded us why he’s an exciting member of the UFC’s heavyweight division. Mitrione earned the seventh knockdown and the sixth knockout of his UFC career in a buzzer-beater finish of Shawn Jordan at 4:59 of round one. Mitrione tied Gabriel Gonzaga for fifth place in UFC heavyweight history with seven total knockdowns, and Mitrione’s sixth KO/TKO victory tied Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo for fifth place in the division’s history as well. The knockout is the ninth in UFC history to occur at 4:59 of round one, joining such memorable finishes as Machida over Silva at UFC 94 and Jose Aldo over Chad Mendes at UFC 142.
* Things ended with quite a bang in Macau with the headliner between Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway. Kim, largely lauded for his takedowns and smothering ground control, has let his hands go lately and he’s earned impressive results. Of Kim’s four knockdowns in UFC competition, three have come in his last two fights, both ending with a finish. And what a finish it was Saturday. Dong Hyun Kim became the first fighter in UFC history to earn a knockout stemming from a spinning back elbow. He’s just the third fighter in UFC history to earn a KO/TKO victory stemming from any kind of spinning arm strike, joining the spinning back fist knockouts of Shonie Carter (UFC 31) and John Makdessi (UFC 129).
Kim’s spinning back elbow knockout became the 11th KO/TKO stemming from standing elbow strikes, which have become quite the trend. Between finishes by Paul Varelans (UFC 6) and Ivan Menjivar (UFC 129), there were zero knockouts stemming from standing elbow strikes. Since Menjivar’s finish at UFC 129, there have been nine.