John Hathaway vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Anton Tabuena: Hathaway has been out for almost two years from Crohn’s Disease and he had to also deal with the travel and time difference in Macau. He says neither of these would be a factor come fight time, but both their styles and skillsets should stack up comparatively so even small difficulties could make a huge difference. Dong Hyun Kim by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I’m battling a cold, my head hurts, and there are so many fights on this card that are a waste of time that I’m not going to make a concerted effort to explain my predictions for anything other than the main event. So here we go. Hathaway has quietly lost just once in the UFC, and while he’s not the most exciting guy in the world, he’s no slouch. My concern about this fight is the fact that he’s not fought since September 2012 and is going straight into a 5 rounder against Kim, who has also never gone 5 rounds and whom I otherwise have doubts on his gas tank holding up the full 25 minutes. Kim is the better fighter, he’s developed better striking, has a better top game than Hathaway, and should be able to get at least 3 rounds. Dong Hyun Kim by decision.
Zane Simon: In reality, if it weren’t for the long layoff, I’d say this was a fight between near mirror images. Unfortunately, because Hathaway spent nearly a year and a half on the sidelines, I’m not exactly sure what he’s going to look like when he steps in the cage again. Hathaway generally has been the more accurate, powerful striker in his time in the UFC. He doesn’t have much to show for it in terms of finishes, but he has dropped several opponents with stepping knees on the takedown counter and considering how much time both men will probably spend in the clinch, his ability to hurt opponents there should be considered. Eventually, though I think Kim is just that much more stifling and he seems to be on a bit of a roll at the moment. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hathaway can pull out the upset, but Kim has more success over a better quality of opponent and a very similar style. This is his fight to lose. Dong Hyun Kim by Unanimous Decision.
Patrick Wyman: Kim has quietly developed into a capable and well rounded fighter in an absolute shark tank of a division. Hathaway hasn’t fought in a year and a half, and has yet to show any real sign of turning into anything other than a grinding, smothering top-control specialist. Given Kim’s takedown defense and scrambling ability, I have a hard time seeing a sustained path to victory for Hathaway unless Kim gasses and gasses hard. While that’s a distinct possibility – he was well on his way to doing that against Erick Silva – I don’t believe it’ll be a problem twice in a row. Kim, unanimous decision.
Staff picking Hathaway: Tim
Staff picking Kim: Patrick, Zane, Mookie, Grant, Stephie, Fraser, Anton, DSM
Zhang Lipeng vs. Wang Sai
Anton Tabuena: It comes to no surprise that both Wang Sai and Zhang Lipeng ended up in the finals because they were both the most experienced Chinese fighters on their roster. Wang Sai is one of the first fighters from China who decided to get some quality training internationally. He has gone around some quality Asian camps training with the likes of Ole Laursen, Vaughn Anderson and Ray Elbe in the past to provide him with a fresh outlook from just simply staying at home, and he has done the same for this camp. Following the show, he traveled to train with Mike Swick and the other coaches at the newly built AKA Thailand, and I think all these quality training will be key to his development. Zhang has potential as well, but I believe Wang Sai will take this one. Wang Sai by Decision.
Zane Simon: Alright, even I’m a little out of my depth when it comes to TUF China. I saw the first episode and I remember vaguely watching one other fight that I believe was between Sai and Wang Anying (maybe). However having watched a bit of footage on both fighters I can say that I think Wang has a much more developed style. Lipeng is an athletic specimen, no doubt, and he can certainly smash overmatched competition, but if easy takedowns don’t present themselves he turns into a bit of a cautious brawler, switching between inactivity and wild strikes. Sai, with his Sanda background, seems much more controlled and capable on his feet and I don’t think LiPeng’s takedowns are polished enough to get or keep the fight on the mat. Wang Sai by TKO Round 2.
Staff picking Zhang: Mookie
Staff picking Wang: Zane, Grant, Stephie, Patrick, Fraser, Anton, DSM, Tim
Shawn Jordan vs. Matt Mitrione
Mookie Alexander: Just cross your fingers this ends in 1 round. I think we’ve seen Mitrione’s ceiling defined pretty well based on his showing against Brendan Schaub. Shawn Jordan by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: I’ve been trying to ride the Shawn Jordan hype train. The guy is a great natural athlete, has a lot of power and seems like he could put his skills together into something more. But he just hasn’t and his loss to Gabriel Gonzaga was a massive step back as he rushed in and got clocked. On the other hand, Mitrione is anything but polished. Neither of these guys has a win over a current UFC fighter, both have been on the receiving end of bad one punch KO’s and both have a lot of natural athleticism. I’m taking Mitrione here because he seems to get caught in fewer firefights. Jordan not only got hit hard by Gonzaga, but took a lot of damage from Mike Russow as well, and given Mitrione’s insane reach advantage I have to think he can create space and make an ugly fight for Jordan here. Matt Mitrione by KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Jordan: Patrick, Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Mitrione: Zane, Grant, Anton, DSM
Vaughan Lee vs. Nam Phan
Mookie Alexander: At least Nam Phan is in a fight where he doesn’t risk getting hit in the face over and over again en route to at least one 10-8 round. Nam Phan by decision.
Zane Simon: I know this isn’t a nice thing to say, and it’s hardly scientific, but Vaughan Lee is a bit of a self admitted head case. He tends to second guess himself a lot in the ring, go through a lot of anxiety, and just generally have trouble pulling the trigger when he needs to. Nam Phan may not be a technical marvel (especially defensively) but he’s consistent. He throws hard, clean punches, has a rock solid chin, and is capable enough on the ground when he’s not vastly outmuscled. Lee certainly has the technical grappling savvy to take Phan down and submit him, but I can’t trust him to pull the trigger. This fight really depends on which version of Lee shows up, because I know what I’m getting out of Phan. Nam Phan by decision.
Staff picking Lee:
Staff picking Phan: Zane, Mookie, Grant, Stephie, Patrick, Fraser, Anton, DSM, Tim
Hatsu Hioki vs. Ivan Menjivar
Anton Tabuena: Just don’t get robbed. Hatsu Hioki by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Hioki is going to win this and frustrate everyone by failing to finish him. Hatsu Hioki by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I don’t know if I’m overly judgemental, but if Hatsu Hioki can’t beat Ivan Menjivar then not only do I not think he’s going to be in the UFC any longer, I’m not particularly interested in seeing him there either. That’s not a knock on Menjivar (well maybe it is), but it’s more a statement that Menjivar is great against the lowest caliber of UFC fighters and loses to anyone above that level (and that’s at bantamweight). If Hioki can’t handle him at 145 lbs, then he’s clearly lost the effectiveness that made him such a hot commodity in his early career. Hioki is a better striker and a better grappler than Menjivar and will have a massive size advantage to boot. There’s no reason for him to lose this fight… unless he does. Hatsu Hioki by submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Hioki: Patrick, Zane, Mookie, Grant, Stephie, Fraser, Anton, DSM, Tim
Staff picking Menjivar:
Yui Chul Nam vs. Kazuki Tokudome
Anton Tabuena: This will probably be an ugly fight, and that’s where Nam is at his best. He will clinch, dirty box, or even try to add in some actual dirty moves. He will do anything it takes to win, and with Tokudome likely to not be able to beat him by being technically superior, he will probably lose a ground-out affair to the Road FC champion. Surprised I’m in the minority here, but to me it’s going to be Nam Yui Chul by Decision.
Zane Simon: This fight promises to be a sloppy stand-n-bang slug fest. Neither Tokudome nor Nam are particularly technically adept. And while there’s some chance that Nam looks to get into the clinch and presses Tokudome against the cage as he stalls and searches fruitlessly for takedowns, I hope that they just stay at boxing range and club each other relentlessly until one of them drops. Considering neither man has shown consistent KO power, I’ll go with a decision and take Tokudome since he has a bit more clubbing experience at the UFC level. Kazuki Tokudome by Decision.
Staff picking Nam: Anton
Staff picking Tokudome: Zane, Grant, Stephie, Patrick, Mookie, Fraser, DSM, Tim
Albert Cheng vs. Anying Wang
Anton Tabuena: I am surprised that I keep picking against the group here. Neither man is really UFC-ready by any means, but Wang Anying should at least be at a higher level. Wang Anying by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Was really hoping Albert’s last name was Chung so I could use a “Everybody Wang Chung tonight” reference. Albert Cheng by decision.
Zane Simon: Unpolished fighter who grapples a bit against unpolished fighter who strikes a bit. I’ll take the grappler. Albert Cheng by Decision.
Staff picking Cheng: Zane, Grant, Stephie, Patrick, Mookie, Fraser, DSM, Tim
Staff picking Wang: Anton
Mark Eddiva vs. Jumabieke Tuerxun
Anton Tabuena: Mark Eddiva is one of the world’s best Wushu specialists having medalled on several top competitions while representing the Philippines. While most traditional MMA fighters will have a hard time adjusting to this type of unorthodox striking, Bieke wouldn’t as he comes from the top Sanda camp in China and he trains with fighters of the same style on a daily basis. Bieke won’t be as technical standing up, but he has big power and will also have the better wrestling between the two. The thing I noticed though, is that they all seem to be really underestimating Eddiva, and even took this fight at a higher weight division, unconcerned about giving up size and weight. Maybe this overconfidence leads to him to unnecessarily strike with Eddiva even with a stylistic advantage on the ground, or maybe not. Maybe someone will finally be able to counter his obvious overhand right with a good shot, maybe not. Either way, I would love to see Eddiva defy the odds and silence the hometown favorite. Bieke has everything going for him, but I will not pick against the Filipino. Mark Eddiva by TKO.
Zane Simon: This is pretty much a mirror of the fight above it except both fighters have a bit more experience. Eddiva is a very good Wushu and Sanshou competitor and Tuerxun is in something of the Tiequan Zhang model (although more athletic) as a grinding wrestler. I think Tuerxun’s wrestling is going to win out in this fight, but it’s hard to tell when the fighters have been competing in MMA at such a low level. Jumabieke Tuerxun by TKO, Round 2.
Patrick Wyman: I watched some tape on Tuerxun, and while I’m not suddenly regretting my decision not place him on my prospect list, he’s a pretty decent fighter. He has a solid and grinding top game, well-timed takedowns, and enough striking acumen to not be completely helpless on the feet. That should be enough here. Tuerxun, unanimous decision.
Staff picking Eddiva: Anton, DSM
Staff picking Tuerxun: Patrick, Zane, Grant, Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, Tim
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