If you woke up early in the United States to catch the UFC Fight Night 34 card from Singapore, you missed what turned out to be an event filled with finishes, controversy and some fantastic moments to kick off 2014.
In the main event, the final Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine fought Hyun Gyu Lim in a ‘Fight of the Night’ winner. Saffiedine brutalized Lim with leg kicks a took away a unanimous decision despite being rocked late in the fight as a charging Lim failed to finish.
UFC Fight Night 34 also marked the UFC debut of Tatsuya Kawajiri who submitted Sean Soriano.
Here are some things to look out for in the wake of the UFC’s debut event in Singapore.
5. The UFC Fight Pass is Worth It
No one knew how the UFC Fight Pass would do on its first event as online streams in the past have received some harsh criticism. This particular stream though had to do well as it stood the only way fans could access certain events and programming, all with the UFC name splattered all over the page.
The good news for the UFC is that the stream truly did go off without a hitch. The quality was fantastic even slow internet service. It flipped between regular TV quality and a sharp high-definition, a change not recognizable during fights whatsoever.
The UFC Fight Pass has definitely made some fans with this consistency in service and with the fight library and exclusive content, $9.99 just got a whole lot more reasonable.
4. Max Holloway Doesn’t Fight Like a 22-year-old
Since his UFC debut, Max Holloway has gotten credit for how mature he looks as a fighter. He is calm and patient while also acutely aware of when the time is right to strike and slip out of danger.
His most recent affair was opposite Will Chope who pressured Holloway early, only to be put away in the second round with a series of strikes.
What made the finish so good was that Holloway never punched himself out and took only the chances he knew would pay off as Chope tried to defend. He worked angles and even threw a spinning back kick to the body while he had Chope hurt in the pocket. He came from every direction and at such a young age, reminds us why his prime will be a scary thing.
3. Domestic Fighters are Great to See, if They are UFC Caliber
SciFighting has no problem with up-and-comers getting a shot on the big stage, being called up to the UFC and taking a chance to establish a career early on. The aforementioned Max Holloway debuted in the UFC in just his 5th fight to take on Dustin Poirier while Brock Lesnar joined the promotion on his second bout.
The difference is that these two possess certain properties that make them valuable to the UFC. A talented and technical 22-year-old, and a behemoth who sells PPV’s like its his job (which it kind of was).
For this card in Singapore however, some of these fighters didn’t quite seem to be at that level, even against similarly skilled opponents. One fight in particular saw a 2-0 fighter hold his opponent down for the majority of the fight without mounting anything as his opponent was helpless to move in any direction. This may sound similar to the ‘Jon Fitch’ style which many on Twitter likened the fight too but with Fitch, he was fighting the best in the division and still stifling their attacks with takedowns. While on the ground, he never let up with strikes, no matter how hard.
Fighter development is great but it seemed that a decent majority of these fights featured fighters who were perhaps a few fights away from a UFC debut instead of throwing them in now.
2. Kawajiri vs. Soriano Said a Lot About Both Men
Sean Soriano should hold his head high despite the loss in his promotional debut. He had to make that debut against Tatsuya Kawajiri. He was submitted in the second but was definitely a candidate to win the first round. He looked to be in great form and tagged Kawajiri with some powerful strikes.
The victor, Kawajiri lived up to his nickname. Through all of Soriano’s advances, Kawajiri was true to form, taking him down and smashing him to end round 1 and then grabbing a hold of him in the second to secure a quick submission.
1. Saffiedine and Lim Show Off in the Main Event
Perhaps one of the most painful ways to be defeated is by leg kick. You are rendered unable to continue during the fight and feel the pain for days afterwards with a visual reminder of what happened to you seared in to your brain.
Hyun Gyu Lim wouldn’t let that happen. While he does limp away from the biggest fight of his career on the wrong end of a decision, the bruise on his leg should remind him how tough he really is. He stole two rounds on two of the judges scorecards and had Saffiedine badly hurt at the end of a round that most thought would never come given how badly his leg was damaged.
Saffiedine has learned that perhaps through his discipline, patience and technique that maybe a finish is worth the risk. He took a few chances in that fight but it seemed as though he slowed in the later rounds with victory in his grasp. An ill-advised drop in to the guard of Lim after he dropped him with leg kicks could have helped save Lim for further rounds leading to him having to be rocked to close out the fight.
All in all, it was a win and like I said, his discipline and technique were on point. His hands never dropped below his chin and he usually finished combinations strong with a kick to either the leg or body of Lim.
If he can find the success in the kicks even briefly in future fights, it will open up opponents to punishment from several other areas as well. A top-ten opponent is just what Saffiedine needs to legitimize his UFC career. Congrats to both men.
Honarble Mention: There were three Hawaiians on the card, all of whom won their respective bouts. Russel Doane, Dustin Kimura and Max Holloway not only brought Hawaii’s record to 3-0 for the event, but they also had the only three finishes on the preliminary card with two submissions and a TKO. Doane went on to win the ‘Submission of the Night’ bonus while Holloway won the ‘Knockout of the Night’ bonus.
For more UFC Fight Night 34 coverage visit SciFighting.com