For those of you here in the US you may have missed UFC Fight night 34 early this AM. However they kicked off with a bang this early AM on UFC Fight Pass at 3:00am PST. In the main event, Belgian kickboxing ace Tarec Saffiedine returns to action after a year-long layoff to face South Korean tough guy Hyun Gyu Kim, while other bouts feature a ton of Octagon newcomers mixed in with a few vets.
-Russell Doane vs. Leandro Issa
Round 1: The two waste no time trading leather, but Issa switches things up and immediately goes for and gets a double-leg takedown. Doane reverses and escapes, then establishes himself as the dominant striker, unloading with punches and knees whenever Issa gets within range. Issa gets another takedown and is on top for a bit, but his opponent reverses once more and threatens with some sweet positional dominance. With about a minute and a half left in the round, Issa gets tricky and slips on a triangle choke attempt, and though he fails to secure the tap, he’s got Doane struggling to defend for the rest of the frame.
Round 2: Doane comes out a little more cautious, but in no time is winging that overhand right. Issa fires back with some well-set up leg-kicks, but Doane starts stuffing his takedown attempts more and more, and Issa eats some rights and wobbles. With a minute left in the round Doane reverses a takedown attempt and winds up going for both an armbar then a triangle. The horn sounds signaling the end of the round, and when the ref pulls them apart – surprise! – Issa is unconscious. Good start to the event.
Result: Russell Doane def. Leandro Issa via Technical Submission (Triangle Choke) at 4:59, R2
-Dustin Kimura vs. Jon Delos Reyes
The bantamweights are up next with Kimura and Delos Reyes.
Round 1: Delos Reyes comes out slugging, and before they’re even a minute in he’s above dropping bombs. Kimura stays mobile on his back though, and after threatening with things like an omoplata and a sweep attempt, and catches Delos Reyes with an armbar and secures the tap. Slick moves by Kimura, sloppy moves by Delos Reyes.
Result: Dustin Kimura def. Jon Delos Reyes via Submission (Armbar) at 2:13, R1
– Bang Tae Hyun vs. Mairbek Taisumov
Round 1: Korean Top Team rep Hyun and Tiger Muay Thai exponent Taisumov begin their feeling-out process with just a tad bit of caution – Hyun looking to find his range with his boxing, Taisumov firing off inside leg-kicks. But in no time Taisumov turns up the heat, mixing in well-timed punches with a counter-striking game that repeatedly catches his foe walking in. Time expires in the round and it’s clear Taisumov has scored more.
Round 2: Round 2 seems to pick up where they left off, but a minute and a half in Taisumov adds another wrinkle to the fight by easily taking Hyun down. They get back to their feet instantly, and yet now the South Korean has to worry about one more thing, and he grows a little more tentative. With the constant stream of strikes he lands, Taisumov keeps chipping away and racking up points.
Round 3: Taisumov switches to wrestling mode and repeatedly puts his opponent on the mat to work his ground and pound. Hyun tries his best to wiggle out of trouble, but exhaustion is a factor, and he absorbs punishment. With a minute and a half left the South Korean finally manages to get vertical – which only provides Taisumov with another opportunity to throw him down dramatically. Dominant, dominant performance by Taisumov.
Result: Mairbek Taisumov def. Bang Tae Hyun via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-David Galera vs. Royston Wee
Round 1: Galera rushes in and Wee doesn’t hesitate to turn that forward momentum into a sweet throw. Then they stalemate somewhat, with Wee in Galera’s guard trying to work for subs and sweeps, Wee trying to deliver some punishment from above – neither really finding definitive success. Wee is, however, successful in opening up a small cut on his opponent, and by virtue of being on top, takes the round when time expires.
Round 2: Galera throws a kick to the body and Wee seizes another takedown, and we’re pretty much back to where we were in the first. Perhaps since his confidence is growing, Wee’s a little better at passing the guard, although that doesn’t translate into much more action. For his control, Wee takes another lackluster round.
Round 3: This one is more of the same, with Galera coming forward while his opponent tried to fix his shorts, and Wee turning that into a double-leg takedown. At about three and a half minutes in Galera delivers a very blatant upkick to the face while Wee is on his knees within his guard, and the referee wisely deducts a point before they’re allowed to continue. Galera manages to get to his feet one more time and Wee slams him back down, and then time runs out. Yes, this fight sucked.
Result: Royston Wee def. David Galera via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
-Katsunori Kikuno vs. Quinn Mulhern
Next up is Kikuno, a veteran Japanese fighter who employs some thrilling striking thanks to a badass Kyokushin Karate background. Can he and Mulhern wash away the bad taste Galera vs. Wee left in our mouths?
Round 1: Kikuno comes out facing a ridiculous height and reach disadvantage, but his stance is all “I AM KARATE, YOU WILL DIE”. Mulhern responds with a takedown attempt, and when the Japanese fighter sprawls, the American pulls guard. Soon they’re back on their feet, only to repeat the same sequence over and over again. To his credit, Mulhern goes for some subs, but Kikuno is on top throughout.
Round 2: Round 2 is much of the same, with Mulhern unable to find any success with his takedowns, and Kikuno landing a few concise punches and a knee when they’re on the feet. Sadly, it seems that the great height disparity has made it tough for Kikuno to really unleash some of his famous striking techniques.
Round 3: Mulhern continues to pull guard and Kikuno’s growing confidence has him firing off more single kicks and punches. Sadly, that’s the entire story of this fight, and when the round ends, all that’s left is the disappointment that Kikuno didn’t manage to uncork anything spectacular.
Result: Katsunori Kikuno def. Quinn Mulhern via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
-Will Chope vs. Max Holloway
Last bout of the prelims and it’s Holloway versus newcomer Chope. Can they give us that much-needed boost of life?
Round 1: They start off extremely active – thankfully – and engage in a standup battle right out of the gate. Both men are very mobile, utilizing their footwork to position themselves to throw and avoid strikes, and though Holloway lands quite a few times, the taller, lankier Chope’s reach enables him to get in some good licks, too. With about a minute and a half left in the frame Holloway begins to pour it on, and Chope is in dire straits when the horn sounds and saves him.
Round 2: Holloway comes out with guns blazing and Chope becomes a human punching bag. But Chope refuses to go down, and is able to press Holloway against the cage to stifle things while he recovers. The respite doesn’t last long though, and once Holloway gets some space he unleashes a fistic barrage that soon crumples Chope against the cage. The referee jumps in and saves Chope from further punishment.
Result: Max Holloway def. Will Chope via TKO (Strikes) at 2:27, R2
-Kyun Ho Kang vs. Shunichi Shimizu
Round 1: Kang has a sizeable height advantage, and opens up with a spinning wheel-kick that Shimizu barely bounces out of the way of. However, the hits just keep on coming, with Kang nailing his foe with a knee as Shimizu changed levels, and then stepping into mount after Shimizu struggled to recover on the ground. The South Korean then nearly nails an armbar and a triangle, but he screws the pooch when he delivers an illegal downward elbow – a banned technique that has the ref deducting a full two points for the infraction. The round ends with Kang knowing that he pretty much has to get the finish to win.
Round 2: Shimizu resumes his desperate attempts to get the fight to the mat, and Kang just completely stifles him, takes top position, and blasts him. Soon he’s in the mount. Eventually the Japanese fighter gets back to his feet, but it doesn’t last long, and from within Shimizu’s guard Kang delivers more beating.
Round 3: A successful takedown almost sees his fortunes change – almost – but Shimizu is soon reversed and Kang resumes his brutal destruction via elbows from above. Later in the round they start scrambling, and though Shimizu seems on the cusp of gaining top position, Kang is one step ahead, and catches him in a head/arm choke. Shimizu taps out almost instantly.
Result: Kyun Ho Kang def. Shunichi Shimizu via Submission (Head/Arm Choke) at 3:53, R2
-Luiz Dutra vs. Kiichi Kunimoto
The welterweights are up, with Dutra representing the art of Luta Livre and Kunimoto repping tanned, blond-haired Japanese men everywhere.
Round 1: Dutra spends much of the first round with his defensive posture pretty tight while Kunimoto tries to open him up with leg-kicks. Unfortunately, at about three minutes in Kunimoto dives in for a takedown and Dutra drops a series of downward elbows to the back of his head (a double foul whammy). The ref jumps in to call time and Kunimoto drops to the canvas, and with the doctor present, the fallen fighter says he can’t continue. Dutra is disqualified.
Result: Kiichi Kunimoto def. Luiz Dutra via DQ (Illegal Elbows) at 2:57, R1
-Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Sean Soriano
Round 1: Kawajiri may be the veteran by many years (and wars), but from the outset it’s clear Soriano is tough as nails and well-prepared. Mixing stellar takedown defense with knees and elbows that make his opponent pay for each attempt, Soriano makes life miserable for Kawajiri. At the two-minute mark Kawajiri is finally able to get Soriano down and keep him there, and after securing back-control, he threatens repeatedly with chokes. The round ends with the Japanese fighter on top pounding away furiously.
Round 2: Kawajiri wastes no time getting another takedown, and this time leaps onto Soriano’s back and sinks in the choke. Soriano taps, but the ref doesn’t see it and the American goes to sleep. A good win for the PRIDE and DREAM vet.
Result: Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Sean Soriano via Technical Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at :50, R2
-Tarec Saffiedine vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
It’s main event time, and on paper this should be a fun stand-up war. Let’s see if reality grants us our wish.
Round 1: Lim is massive compared to Saffiedine, and lumbers forward winging punches and throwing judicious knees. But Saffiedine is undaunted, and remains tight and accurate with his leg-kicks in what is clearly part of a plan to cut down on the South Korean’s explosiveness. Midway through the round Lim catches a kick and dumps Saffiedine onto the canvas, and he repeats it again soon after. The round ends with both on their feet trying to find an opening.
Round 2: Saffiedine turns up the aggressiveness and it starts paying off dividends, with his seasoned boxing enabling him to knock Lim’s head back and rock the South Korean. Adding to Lim’s misery are the deadly accurate kicks tearing apart his leg, and the round clearly belongs to Saffiedine.
Round 3: The Belgian striker drops Lim with a right hand early, then finds himself defending an ankle lock. He does, almost takes Lim’s back, and they scramble to the feet. Halfway through the round Saffiedine’s kicks make his opponent crumble, and he follows Lim to the canvas to work some ground and pound. The pace slows, so referee Leon Roberts stands them up – a turn of events that doesn’t favor Lim, as it only enables Saffiedine to drop him with more kicks to the leg. The horn sounds and Lim hobbles back to his corner, a big question mark looming overhead as to whether or not he can continue.
Round 4: Lim does indeed make it out to the fourth, and in a sort of admirable desperation, is throwing everything he can to somehow turn the tide. Saffiedine remains calm though, and drops him with a flying knee. They scramble on the ground and Saffiedine winds up on top, putting Lim on the defensive. The round ends with Saffiedine playing with his food on the ground and Lim barely surviving.
Round 5: You can’t question the heart of Lim, for although his leg is hamburger, he comes out swinging hard – and somehow even manages to ding Saffiedine up. Saffiedine keeps up with his kicks and punches while deftly circling out of danger, but in an exciting sequence spanning the final ten seconds of the bout, Lim flurries and catches and wobbles him. This time it’s Saffiedine who must survive. He does, and takes the decision.
Result: Tarec Saffiedine def. Hyun Gyu Lim via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)