Tarec Saffiedine vs Hyun Gyu Lim
Former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine showed off all aspects of his fight game in his UFC debut Saturday at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and when the UFC Fight Night main event was over, his five round unanimous decision win over gutsy South Korean Hyun Gyu Lim sent a message to his peers at 170 pounds that he’s ready for the best the welterweight division has to offer.
Scores were 49-46 and 48-47 twice.
Saffiedine effectively picked at Lim with his punches and kicks in the early going, mixing in plenty of movement and switching of stances to throw his opponent off. Lim did score a flash knockdown with a right hand at the midway point of the round, and as the final minute wound down, he got in more shots, prompting a smile to appear on his face.
A firefight broke out in the opening minute of round two, and Saffiedine got the better of the exchanges, knocking Lim back on his heels twice. After settling to a more measured pace, Saffiedine went back to firing off hard leg kicks while moving smoothly back upstairs with his punches, frustrating Lim, whose return swings found nothing but air as the stanza progressed.TOP VIDEOSabout:blank
Lim got back on track early in the third, but a right hand by Saffiedine produced a quick knockdown, and the Belgium native scored with a takedown moments later, putting “Sponge” in control once again. After the two rose, Saffiedine unleashed more leg kicks, visibly hurting Lim and putting him on the deck. Saffiedine followed Lim to the mat but was unable to finish. Instead, he used his ground strikes to maintain control. With 30 seconds remaining, referee Leon Roberts stood the two fighters, and Lim was dropped once again with a leg kick just before the bell.
Surprisingly, Lim was able to make it out of his corner for round four, and he aggressively fired off lefts and rights in a last ditch effort to turn things around. Not surprisingly though, Saffiedine kept his cool, and with a flying knee to the head he scored another knockdown. Now showing off his ground game, Saffiedine looked for a rear naked choke and a triangle choke briefly, all the while throwing in enough strikes to keep the fatigued Lim on the defensive.
The gutsy Lim still moved forward, throwing all the while, but with each kick to the leg, Saffiedine regained the upper hand. With two minutes left, a shot to the left leg produced yet another knockdown, and this time Saffiedine let Lim up, looking to finish matters on the feet. Lim let out a war cry when he rose, and he marched forward with his hands down, hoping to goad Saffiedine into a brawl. He nearly got his wish, and he rocked Saffiedine in the closing seconds, only to have the bell intervene and halt his comeback effort.
Max Holloway vs Will Chope
Max Holloway punches Will Chope in their featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Marina Bay Sands Resort on January 4, 2014 in Singapore. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Rising featherweight star Max Holloway capped off a great night for Hawaii at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore Saturday, as his second round TKO win over Octagon newcomer Will Chope made it three for three for his team in UFC Fight Night action, joining him in the win column with Dustin Kimura and Russell Doane.
Chope worked off any first-time UFC jitters with an active attack, with Holloway forced to pull off some unorthodox moves to keep the Thailand-based fighter off him. In the final two minutes, Holloway finally began to find his range though, and the Hawaiian pounced, landing with hard shots down the middle, forcing Chope to clinch with his opponent against the fence in the final minute before a round finishing barrage of strikes from Holloway.
Holloway continued to press in the second round, and Chope was forced to go on the defensive as Holloway unleashed punches and kicks upstairs and downstairs. After a rough sequence, Chope fired back and then clinched with Holloway against the fence, getting a brief breather. Once the two broke, Holloway went on the attack once again, and this time he dropped Chope to the mat, with a follow up series of strikes prompting referee Leon Roberts to halt the fight at 2:27 of the second round.
Russell Doane vs Leandro Issa
Hawaiian bantamweight Russell Doane got the night off to an exciting start with a second round submission win over Leandro Issa in a clash of Octagon newcomers.
As soon as Doane let his hands go to open the bout, the Brazil-born Issa took him to the mat. Doane impressively reversed and got back to his feet, going right back to his standup efforts. Issa had to work a little harder for his next takedown but he got it. This time, Doane’s reversal saw him take Issa’s back, and he fired off strikes. Issa stayed calm, and soon he was able to lock in a triangle choke. Doane tried to slam his way out of trouble, and while Issa kept the hold on, Doane was able to make it to the bell.
Issa worked his striking game well in the early part of round two, but the heavy-handed Doane rocked him on a number of occasions with his right hand and he tossed off takedown attempts from the Brazilian. With a little over a minute left, the bout went to the mat, but it was Doane in control as he unleashed strikes and almost locked in an armbar before a triangle choke finished matters at 4:59 of the second frame.
Tatsuya Kawajiri vs Sean Soriano
Things began well enough for unbeaten Sean Soriano against longtime Japanese star Tatsuya Kawajiri, but eventually, “The Crusher” became “The Crusher,” submitting the American in the second round of their featherweight bout, making an immediate statement in his UFC debut in the process.
Soriano got off to a good start with his striking and takedown defense, but you can’t hold off Kawajiri forever, and with a little over two minutes gone, the Ibaragi native got his first takedown. Soriano didn’t stick around long, getting right back to his feet, but Kawajiri stayed close, getting Soriano to the mat once again and this time taking his back, where he pounded away with ground strikes until the end of the round.
Kawajiri got the takedown a lot easier as the second frame opened, and once he got Soriano to the mat, he took the back and sunk in a rear naked choke that produced a tap out and the finish 50 seconds into round two.
With the win, Kawajiri, a former PRIDE standout at lightweight who is now unbeaten in five fights at 145 pounds, improves to 33-7-2; Soriano falls to 8-1.
Holly Holm vs Bethe Correia
Bethe Correia stepped back and called Holly Holm forward, asking her to engage. The former women’s bantamweight champion obliged and promptly ended the fight, landing a clean “question mark” kick that sent Correia crashing to the canvas and closed out Saturday’s UFC Fight Night event in Singapore in stunning fashion.
The first two rounds were marked by hesitation as neither women wanted to press forward into danger – a pair of counter-strikers unsure about leading the dance. At one point late n the second round, referee Marc Goddard called time and spoke to Holm and Correia in the center of the Octagon, acknowledging their shared game plans, but imploring them to pick up the pace and engage more.
A minute into the middle frame, it was Correia asking Holm to bring the action, dropping her hands and motioning for the Team Jackson-Wink standout to engage and Holm responded with a perfectly timed, perfectly placed kick that brought the bout – and her three-fight losing streak – to a sudden halt.
“What I wanted to do was make it look as clean as I could,” Holm told Dan Hardy following the official decision. “That was the goal, that was the plan – to bait her into something,”
Holly Holm knocks out Bethe Correia of Brazil with a kick in their women’s bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 17, 2017 in Singapore. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
“My brothers and I used to say, ‘shin on face; shin on face,’ so this is for you brothers,” she added while watching the replay, dedicating her performance and victory to her coaches, family and friends.
Thrust into the spotlight after dethroning Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, Holm had come away on the wrong side of the results since that memorable evening in Melbourne, Australia in November 2015.
She dropped the women’s bantamweight title to Miesha Tate in her first title defense, getting choked out in the closing stages of the fifth round while ahead on the scorecards. Four months later, Valentina Shevchenko was able to out-strike the former champion on FOX, putting the women who hadn’t tasted defeat inside the Octagon at the start of the year on a two-fight losing streak.
When she returned in February to face Germaine de Randamie for the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight title at UFC 208 in Brooklyn, Holm came up just short, losing a unanimous decision to the Dutch kickboxer in a close, controversial fight.
“It’s been a year and a half since I was able to do a backflip in here,” said Holm of her customary celebration, which she nailed with the assistance of long-time coach Mike Winkeljohn. “I just feel so blessed.”
With the victory – which officially came at 1:09 of the third round – Holm’s losing streak is a thing of the past and the former champion re-enters the title picture heading into the second half of 2017.
Li Jingliang vs Frank Camacho
Everyone expected Li Jingliang and Frank Camacho to engage in a back-and-forth smoke show when this fight came together and the welterweights did not disappoint.
Both men had their moments in the opening stanza, with Camacho cracking Jingliang with a pair of power shots early in the round before “The Leech” found his footing and began using his superior size and strength to muscle the short-notice newcomer Camacho to the ground. The second was contested exclusively on the feet, with Jingliang showing more bounce and movement, offering superior volume, while Camacho commanded the center of the cage while slinging power shots.
In the third and final frame, Jingliang’s superior conditioning and early investment in leg kicks started paying dividends, as Camacho’s mobility became compromised and gave Jingliang the opportunity to tee off with combinations and turn the tight contest into a one-sided affair down the stretch.
When the scorecards were turned in, all three judges saw the fight for Jingliang, awarding the steadily improving Chinese prospect his third straight victory with scores of 29-27, 29-27 and 28-27.
Colby Covington vs Dong Hyun Kim
Colby Covington takes down Dong Hyun Kim of South Korea in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 17, 2017 in Singapore. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Colby Covington has claimed that he’s the best grappler in the welterweight division and while there is still some work to be done in order to make that official, “Chaos” took another step towards that goal in Singapore, grinding out his biggest win to date against Dong Hyun Kim.
The 29-year-old American Top Team representative spent the majority of the three-round affair stuck to Kim like Velcro, chaining together takedown attempts and refusing to break his grip even when the South Korean “Stun Gun” tried to return to his feet and break into space. Whenever Kim found space, there was Covington, back in on his hips, putting him back on the canvas.
Though far from the most thrilling encounter of the evening, this was a breakthrough performance for Covington nonetheless, as the boisterous former JUCO and Division I All-American dominated the seventh-ranked Kim from start to finish, collecting scores of 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27 to earn his fourth straight victory.
Ulka Sasaki vs Justin Scoggins
Ten seconds into this fight, Justin Scoggins tossed Ulka Sasaki on his head with a powerful suplex and the action didn’t let up until Sasaki was able to squeeze a tap out of his American counterpart to secure the come-from-behind victory.
Scoggins hurt Sasaki with a spinning back kick to the ribs early in the first before putting him down with a crisp one-two as the lanky Japanese fighter tried to steady himself after a spinning wheel kick whizzed by his face, missing by a whisker as color commentator Dan Hardy said on the broadcast.
The second began much the same way, with Scoggins once again putting Sasaki on the canvas with a spinning back kick. But after weathering a string of elbows, Sasaki was able to scramble free and used the opportunity to rapidly shift the momentum into his favor, mounting Scoggins in the center of the Octagon.
When Scoggins gave up his back, Sasaski fished his arm under the neck and sunk in the rear naked choke. The tap came seconds later and the celebration began for Sasaki, who moves to draws even at 3-3 inside the Octagon and 20-4-2 overall with the victory.
Shane Young vs Rolando Dy
Shane Young of New Zealand punches Rolando Dy of Phillippines in their featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
No pair was more heated with each other in the build to Fight Night than Dy and Young as the featherweights jawed with each other from the time the bout was signed through the weigh-ins on Friday. When the cage door closed on Saturday, those tensions came spilling out, producing an action-packed affair inside the Octagon.
Young wanted to make an impression in his first appearance on a full fight camp after dropping a short-notice decision to Alexander Volkanovski in his debut and the New Zealander did just that, constantly staying in Dy’s face, busting him up and knocking him out in the final seconds of the middle round with a short elbow that dropped Dy where he stood.
Tough as nails and eager to sling, this was a breakout performance for the intense and entertaining new addition to the featherweight ranks.
Ovince Saint Preux vs Tyson Pedro
There was no feeling out period between the light heavyweight combatants as Saint Preux and Pedro started things by trading headkicks, kicking off a wild contest that ended in less than three minutes.
Pressing forward behind his hands, Pedro cracked Saint Preux with another headkick, following it up with a big right hand along the cage that put the perennial contender on the canvas. As Saint Preux looked to stand, Pedro tried to clamp onto a guillotine choke, but “OSP” popped his head out, but couldn’t escape the grasp of the up-and-coming Australian.
Clinched along the cage, Pedro continued hunting for the takedown, but was they stumbled to the ground, it was Saint Preux that landed on top and from there, the veteran went to work. With Pedro looking to re-guard and tie up Saint Preux, the University of Tennesse alum began hunting for an arm, eventually connecting his hands on a figure-four grip and forcing Pedro to tap to a nasty straight armbar.
After landing on the opposite side of the submission finish last time out, this was a tremendous bounce-back performance for the 35-year-old, who has shared the cage with just about everyone in the Top 15 at 205-pounds over the course of his career. While Pedro once again showed flashes of potential, Saint Preux’s experience and underrated ground game proved to much and should put the veteran right back into the mix on the fringes of contention in the light heavyweight division.
Petr Yan vs Teruto Ishihara
Petr Yan of Russia celebrates after his knockout victory over Teruto Ishihara of Japan in their bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Arriving with a ton of fanfare, Petr Yan made good on his advanced billing, melting Teruto Ishihara with a series of clean, heavy punches along the cage in the closing moments of the opening round.
Stalking Ishihara from the outset, Yan quickly popped to his feet after a surprising takedown put on him on the canvas and once he found his range, the bantamweight newcomer found a home with his punches. While Ishihara looked to recover from the first blow that felled him, Yan didn’t give him any room to breathe, swarming with more power and putting him back on the canvas for good seconds later.
Backing up the hype in your promotional debut can be a challenge, but it was no trouble for Yan, who became the first man to stop Ishihara with strikes and extended his winning streak to four while making an immediate impact in the 135-pound weight division on Saturday night.
Leon Edwards vs Donald Cerrone
Leon Edwards had been lobbying for the chance to share the Octagon with Donald Cerrone for some time and once the bout was finally booked, the surging British welterweight wasn’t shy about telling the veteran and everyone else that was listening that “Cowboy” was “old and slow” and not capable of hanging with him in the cage.
Early in the first round, that appeared to be the case as Edwards quickly opened up a cut just above Cerrone’s right eye with a well-placed knee in the clinch. Despite it being the biggest fight of his career and his first main card assignment, the Englishman showed no sign of jitters, thwarting Cerrone’s takedown attempts and countering every offensive offering his experienced adversary had to offer.
By the end of the second, Cerrone’s face and chest, as well as sections of the canvas, were stained dyed red from the constant stream of crimson running out of the cut above the American’s eye. But while Edwards enjoyed more early success, the savvy Cerrone started to claw back into the contest, stinging “Rocky” with a couple clean shots and connecting with a high kick late in the frame.
As the middle stanza began, both came out showing a greater sense of urgency, with Cerrone trying to press forward and Edwards snapping out sharp counters from the outside. With the flow of blood from the side of his eye stemmed and his confidence rising, Cerrone started turning up the pace, starting combinations with shots to the body and forcing Edwards to stuff multiple takedown attempts. Though the Birmingham man had his moments, the old school gunslinger started to find his rhythm as they reached the main event rounds.
With the pace slowing in the fourth, the spirited affair turned into a more tactical battle, with Edwards sticking Cerrone with clean counters as he looked to press forward. Late in the frame, however, the former WEC standout swept the feet out from under Edwards, putting him on the canvas. But he couldn’t keep him there and when they rose, his face was again awash in crimson, the cut over his eye having been opened up once more.
Leon Edwards of Jamaica taunts Donald Cerrone in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
The crowd roared as the final five minutes began, saluting the welterweight combatants and thrusting Edwards and Cerrone forward into the last round.
Throughout the frame, it was “Cowboy” coming forward and “Rocky” responding from the outside, momentarily stunting Cerrone’s advances with clean single shots. With just over 90 seconds remaining, the veteran put his confident younger foe on the canvas, but Edwards again returned to his feet without taking any real damage.
With 15 seconds left in the fight, they channeled Max Holloway and Ricardo Lamas at UFC 199, pointing to the center of the Octagon and agreeing to slug it out to the horn, sharing an embrace after having traded blows for 25 minutes.
Both men believed they had done enough to earn the decision, but when the tens and nines were tallied, it was Edwards who emerged with the biggest win of his career, collecting a trio of 48-47 scores to sweep the scorecards and push his wining streak to six.
While Cerrone proved that the old, slow gunslinger still has plenty left to offer, this was a major moment for the 26-year-old from Birmingham.
After quietly climbing into the Top 15 with wins over Albert Tumenov, Vicente Luque and Peter Sobotta as part of his five-fight run of success, he took full advantage of his first headlining assignment, commanding the spotlight in the lead up to the bout and delivering a quality in his first headlining assignment.
Edwards asked for the opportunity, Cerrone obliged him and the British upstart made the most of it, introducing himself to all those that hadn’t been paying attention and solidifying his place amongst the collection of improving, advancing young talents making steady progress up the divisional ladder.
Demian Maia vs Ben Askren
It was a showdown between Top 15 welterweight grapplers in Saturday’s main event as Askren returned from his first professional loss to take on Maia, the two-time title challenger with the second most wins in UFC history.
Everyone expected a grappling battle, but Maia got things started with some heavy left hands in space, avoiding Askren’s initial entries and keeping the fight standing. Each time Askren ducked in, looking to close the distance, Maia shrugged him off and got the better of the exchanges as they locked up in close.
With two minutes remaining in the round, Maia appeared to wobble Askren momentarily, connecting with a left hand to the temple, following it up with a kick to the body. It wasn’t until the final minute of the round that the fighter hit the canvas, with Askren taking Maia down, but immediately being forced to defend and scramble as the Brazilian went hunting for submissions and space to get back to his feet.
Bolstered by his success late in the first, Askren pressed forward to start the second, searching for the clinch and a means of getting Maia to the ground. Instead, they continued throwing hands, with Askren peppering Maia and opening up a cut on his left cheek. Askren continued to win the striking exchanges, piling up the output as he tried to close the distance, with Maia landing occasional counters.
Ben Askren submits Ben Askren in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Once again, Askren worked his way inside and secured a takedown late in the frame, but this time, Maia quickly hit a lovely omoplata sweep to work into top position and climb into mount. From there, Askren powered out, creating a scramble where Maia hunted for a kimura and the Olympic wrestler searched for dominant position as the horn sounded.
Maia allowed Askren to close the distance out of the gate to start the third, but worked his way back to the center, only to get taken down with force, though Askren couldn’t keep him there. As the pace slowed and both men clearly started to tire, Maia began pulling away in the striking department, throwing greater volume and landing the more significant shots, only to have Askren once again drag him to the floor.
But just as he did in the second, Maia quickly reversed the position, climbing to mount and taking Askren’s back as the Wisconsin native went belly-down. After locking up a body triangle, Maia fished his arm under the neck and put Askren to sleep, getting a single tap from the standout wrestler before he went out.
What an incredible way to end the year for Maia, who entered 2019 on a two-fight skid, but will head into 2020 on a three-fight winning streak.
Beneil Dariush vs Frank Camacho
The action shifted to the lightweight division in the middle bout of the main card, with all-action fan favorite Frank Camacho stepping in against Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt Beneil Dariush.
It was all Dariush in this one, as he started the bout by picking at Camacho in space, softening up his body with heavy kicks before timing a takedown, climbing to his back and attacking with a rear naked choke. While Camacho tried diligently to defend, Dariush continued to tighten his squeeze, securing the tap and his third straight victory.
Ciryl Gane vs Don’Tale Mayes
Heavyweight prospects with limited experience, but limitless upside met in this one as former TKO champ Ciryl Gane locked up with three-time Contender Series competitor Don’Tale Mayes.
The big boys kept a high pace from the outset, moving fluidly around the cage as both looked to establish their range and find a home for something heavy. Through the first several minute, neither man had much success, but then Gane started finding a home for thudding body kicks and crisp right hands that got Mayes’ attention. Late in the frame, the unbeaten Frenchman caught Mayes with a right hand that prompted him to momentarily cover up, leading Gane to go on the offensive, with the horn being the only thing that kept Mayes from getting finished.
It was more of the same in the second, with Gane continuing to press forward, moving well and landing heavy, though Mayes wore everything well, save for the low blow that brought the round to a halt momentarily. Late in the round, Gane showed another wrinkle to his game, timing a level change and taking Mayes to the ground, though “Lord Kong” was able to return to his feet without taking much damage before the round ended.
Ciryl Gane of France elbows Don’Tale Mayes in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Both men came out landing kicks to begin the third, with Gane hurting Mayes with a teep to the body a minute in before smothering a takedown attempt from the Louisville slugger. The technical and conditioning edges of Gane remained the clear difference-maker between the two, as the MMA Factory product piled up the offense, maintaining the same output, offering the same variety late in the third as he did in the first.
With 90 seconds left, Gane connected with a knee to the body that buckled Mayes and created an opening for “Bon Gamin,” who continued working the body before dragging Mayes to the canvas, diving on a heel hook and getting the tap in the final seconds of the fight.
Just an incredible performance from the undefeated French heavyweight prospect, who pushes his record to 5-0 with his second straight submission finish.
Muslim Salikhov vs Laureano Staropoli
The main card began in the welterweight division with Staropoli searching for this eighth straight victory against the “King of Kung Fu” Salikhov, who picked up a first-round stoppage win last time out in Abu Dhabi.
Much of the opening two minute was spent with each man trying to find their range and get a read on their opponent; neither offering much nor landing anything significant. But the action started to pick up at the midway point of the round, with Salikhov landing a spinning back kick to the midsection and Staropoli countering with a high kick offering of his own before the cautious approach from both sides returned.
Staropoli started a little more aggressively in the second, pressing forward and offering kicks, but Salikhov quickly countered with a swift spinning kick that only partially landed. Not to be outdone, Staropoli then opted to go high with another kick, getting a smile from Salikhov, who then used a caught kick attempt to put the Argentine on the canvas momentarily.
Muslim Salikhov of Russia punches Laureano Staropoli of Argentina in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Just beyond the midway point of the fight, Salikhov again caught a Staropoli kick attempt, firing off a right hand behind it. From there, the Russia began to take control, battering Staropoli with a series of kicks and heavy blows along the fence, seemingly closing in on a finish. To his credit, Staropoli remained standing and continued looking to engage, but Salikhov remained in control through to the horn.
Staropoli came out of the corner swinging, looking to get back into the entertaining fight, but Salikhov slowed his forward progress with a takedown attempt. Back in space, he connected with a clean right hand and just missed with a spinning kick, though Staropoli remained undeterred. Halfway through the round, Salikhov hit a nice “go behind” in the center of the cage, but Staropoli defended it well, breaking free and digging home a few body shots before catching a back kick in the midsection.
They continued going back-and-forth in the center, with Salikhov connecting on the flashier, more pronounced attacks, while Staropoli countered with his own offense in close as the two battled to the final buzzer, leaving it to the judges to decide.
When the verdict was rendered, it was Salikhov who earned the nod, securing his third straight victory inside the Octagon and snapping Staropoli’s lengthy run of success.
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