UFC Fight Night 34 Preview

The Ultimate Fighting Championship will make history tomorrow night in Singapore, as it hosts its first ever event in South East Asia.

While I’m absolutely intrigued about the world’s largest promotion hosting an event in my parts, the guests that are joining FSA today for this piece are just as equally compelled about the line-up as I am.

UFC Fight Night 34 will understandably be a card of little interest to the casual or most North American fans, but hey, the weaker cards always deliver.

It would be foolish to say the line-up is filled with talents that are undeserving of a spot on the UFC roster too, considering the fact that a bunch of them have plied their trade in the Asian MMA scene for a very long time, racking up tons of victories in the process. Opportunities have to be given, people.

So in our build-up to Saturday’s momentous spectacle, I’m joined by Phuket Top Team’s female fighter Helen Harper (2-0) and owner Boyd Clarke to give our take and preview of the fight card.

MAIN CARD

  • Tarec Saffiedine (14-3) vs. Hyun Gyu Lim (12-3-1)

Helen Harper: I can see this fight staying standing even though both fighters are adequately skilled in their ground game. After a year out, Saffiedine will want to prove he’s back but I have a feeling Lim will take the win via TKO before he gets the chance.

Boyd Clarke: I think Tarec is going to have too much experience and be able to grind out a win over Hyun Gyu Lim. However this is a close and great match up. Massive opportunity for Lim to beat a big name and explode onto the scene.

Thinesh John: I like both guys and stylistically, it’s a perfect match-up for fans of the striking game. We don’t know how good Lim’s cardio will be heading into rounds 4 and 5 so I think it’s a bit of a sporting chance in that aspect. I do, however, see Saffiedine taking a decision win here. Lim’s on a good run and he’s full of confidence so I think it’s going to be hard for Saffiedine to finish him. The South Korean will be looking to push the pace but he has to be vary of Saffiedine’s brutal leg kicks.

  • Tatsuya Kawajiri (32-7-2) vs. Sean Soriano (8-0)

Helen Harper: This could definitely be fight of the night, as both are really interesting fighters. Kawajiri is vastly more experienced but Soriano is unbelievably slick despite having only 8 pro fights. I’d love to see Soriano take this one, preferably via submission.

Boyd Clarke: I like Kawajiri in this fight, I think a decision win here.

Thinesh John: There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Sean Soriano who understandably isn’t known at all by the North American audience. But the 24-year-old has been training extensively out of the Blackzilians camp, working closely with the likes of Eddie Alvarez and Danilo Villefort over at Boca Raton, Florida. With that said, Tatusya Kawajiri has been in the game for a long time and I don’t think he’ll be fazed by any octagon jitters, whatsoever. The Japanese fighter is a proven veteran in the Asian MMA circles and I just think his experience will be the difference on fight night.

  • Kiichi Kunimoto (15-5-2, 1 NC) vs. Luiz Dutra Jr. (11-2-1)

Helen Harper: With both fighters coming off 4 fight winning streaks, neither will want to back down especially Dutra, who hasn’t lost a fight since 2008. My thoughts are that Dutra will look to overpower Kunimoto, who will most likely see that as an opportunity to submit him.

Boyd Clarke: I don’t know these guys at all, so I’m going with Kiichi Kunimoto, based on record and wins.

Thinesh John: Dutra comes off as the bigger guy in this contest and I think he’ll triumph over Kunimoto with his strength and size. Kunimoto is no slouch by any standards, though, being a former Heat Welterweight champ and all. Unless he takes the fight to the canvas, I can’t see the Japanese fighter getting a victory here.

  • Kyung Ho Kang (11-7, 1 NC) vs. Shunichi Shimizu (28-8-10)

Helen Harper: Submission artist versus submission artist, this will be an interesting fight. Kang coming off a loss and Shumizu off a 5 fight wining streak, it might just come down to who wants it more. I think Shimizu will take it with a submission in round 2 or 3 but I don’t think Kang is going to give up without a fight.

Boyd Clarke: Shunichi trained at Phuket Top Team with us many times and also before this fight. My support goes with Shimizu!

Thinesh John: The most interesting fact about this fight is that both guys have garnered the majority of their victories through submissions. Shimizu enters this bout with a ton of experience under his belt and has in fact, been working closely with Andrew Leone (a guy Kang is really familiar with having fought him twice) for this fight. Shimizu has great sweeps and submission maneuvers off his back which once again underlines how savvy he is on the canvas. His striking style, meanwhile, mimics that of many classic Japanese fighters where he likes to throw dynamic strikes. That, I believe, may be a problem.

Despite the vast difference in experience, Kang has already fought twice in the UFC and I believe that’s going to give him more confidence and composure heading into this fight. Shimizu will be in for a tough outing.

PRELIMS

  • Max Holloway (7-3) vs. Will Chope (19-5)

Helen Harper: Two very young but experienced fighters facing off: Will Chope the busiest fighter in Asia taking almost every fight offered to him, and Max Holloway with the majority of his pro fights already in the UFC. Holloway coming off a loss, and Chope coming off a 14 fight winning streak! I would really love to see a submission win by Chope in round 1 or 2, however this might count Holloway out of future UFC cards.

Boyd Clarke: Again Will Chope trained with us for a month before this fight. I am taking Will for this very tough fight against a 6-fight UFC veteran in Max Holloway.

Thinesh John: As much as I am a fan of Chope’s, I think he’s a big underdog here. He’s on a brilliant 14-fight winning streak but I’m afraid against Max Holloway, who has been in the octagon with some beasts, notably Dustin Poirier, Leonard Garcia and Dennis Bermudez, this will be a massive step-up in competition. Although the Hawaiian is coming off back-to-back defeats, I fancy his UFC experience to get the better of the promotional newcomer here.

  • Katsunori Kikuno (21-5-2) vs. Quinn Mulhern (18-3)

Helen Harper: If this fight goes to the ground, I can see Jiu Jitsu specialist Mulhern taking it, however Kikuno might just smash straight through him.

Boyd Clarke: I like Kikuno for the win here!

Thinesh John: Kikuno’s karate prowess is fun to watch, especially when he throws those kicks out of nowhere. Then again, as with most Japanese fighters , the 32-year-old has struggled with his mat credentials which so happens to be a strong point for his opponent, Quinn Mulhern. I believe the American’s classic grinding-out style is going to pose huge problems for Kikuno and I foresee a second round submission victory.

  • Royston Wee (2-0) vs. Dave Galera (5-0)

Helen Harper: Neither fighter has ever suffered a professional loss, but for one of them that 0 is about to go. It seems like a good match up, neither fighter being particularly experienced but both of them have a lot to prove to UFC fans as to why they should be on the card in the first place. I can see Royston shocking everyone and taking home a submission win, however this one really could go either way as neither fighter has been particularly tested in their short fighting careers.

Boyd Clarke: David Galera, just based on the fight camp and partners he has trained with.

Thinesh John: As much as I would like to see my Singaporean mate, Royston Wee, reigning victorious here, I believe the two-year layoff will impact him in a big way. Moreover, Galera trains with striking phenoms at Team Lakay and his Brazilian Jit-Jitsu isn’t too shabby either. Add those factors with Galera’s size and reach advantage and well… you get my point.

  • Mairbek Taisumov (20-4) vs. Tae Hyun Bang (16-7)

Helen Harper: It seems that Bang will try to stand and bang (appropriately) however if Taisumov can get in close enough for the take down Bang will be in trouble. I can see it going either way but if Taisumov can take it to the ground he will take home the win.

Boyd Clarke: This is a very tough fight. Mairbek is tough as nails. I think Tae Hyun can work a decision win here though.

Thinesh John: I’ve been hearing a lot of positive things about Mairbek Taisumov who, if you didn’t already know, is a long-time staple of M1-Global. The Tiger Muay Thai native possesses a solid all round MMA facet as evident with the number of TKO and submission wins he has scored. He’s actually making his long awaited UFC debut and I think he’s going to go far in the promotion. He definitely has the ability to impress the masses. Bang, on the other hand, has only fought once in three years but he has faced more capable fighters like Takanori Gomi and Jorge Masvidal. Even so, he’s still the underdog in this one and it’ll be a massive upset, in my eyes, if he gets the ‘W’.

  • Dustin Kimura (10-1) vs. Jon delos Reyes (7-2)

Helen Harper: Despite delos Reyes not having had a pro fight for over a year, his grappling skills are such that he shouldn’t be worried. Both these fighters are good all rounders and it will be interesting to see how this goes down. I’ve got Kimura taking this one, as a great come back after his loss against Gagnon.

Boyd Clarke: I’m going with Dustin Kimura for the submission win over Reyes.

Thinesh John: A battle between two former PXC competitors, Kimura will probably be the hungrier of the two, having suffered the first setback of his career in his previous contest. Reyes has a good ground game so he has the tools to pick up a victory, but I believe Kimura will be hell bent on making a statement to both fans and UFC officials alike that he belongs with the best of the best.

  • Leandro Issa (11-3) vs. Russell Doane (12-3)

Helen Harper: Despite Doane having a solid wrestling background, Issa will have the advantage of a home crowd (being based at Evolve). Issa also has the added advantage of being a black belt in Jiu Jitsu so I think he’s going to take home a submission win.

Boyd Clarke: It’s another great fight and Issa is tough and talented. However, 808 Top Team fighter Doane is a talented guy. Issa by Submission or Doane by knockout.

Thinesh John: This fight has been overlooked in my humble opinion with both fighters being a staple in the Asian MMA scene for a very long time. Doane has been given very little credit for what he has accomplished in the region. The 808 Top Team native was a longtime contender in PXC for a reason, and his losses have come against top fighters like Michinori Tanaka and Kyle Aguon. Doane is an all-rounder and I think he will edge this one. Slightly. But Issa has all the tools as well, especially in the grappling department where he was a former world champion in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He trains with Evolve MMA as well and his striking skills have improved by leaps and bounds, so I’m expecting a close match-up to materialize. This is matchmaking at its finest.

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Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@ThineshJohnMMA, @@hhhellraiser, @PhuketTopTeam) and keep up with the latest Asian MMA news from FightSportAsia.com on Twitter (@FightSportAsia) and Facebook

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Categories: Featured, MMA, Singapore, UFC

Author:Thinesh John

20, Asian MMA nerd in Singapore.

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