As the UFC touches down in Singapore for their first PPV in the island country, there is a decidedly Asian flavor to the event. No surprise, though that flavor is strongest with the early prelims, with every event featuring a participant from a South East Asian country. What is missing is a contest of any significant meaning, as it’s possible each of the participants could be fighting for their jobs. Obviously, the fights mean a lot for those participating in them, but there isn’t much there for the casual fight fan in the early contests.
- While he may not have ever risen above the level of mid-tier gatekeeper, Kyung Ho Kang has carved out a nice UFC career. He found his niche as a physical grinder who is nearly impossible to put away. Kang also has plenty of raw power, but he’s also stiff on the feet, meaning his opponents usually end up outworking him on the feet, even in Kang’s wins. Those that believe Batgerel Danaa will take that route may need to rethink things. While Danaa has outvolumed almost all his UFC opponents thus far, he has also scored several KO’s early, meaning his gas tank hasn’t been sufficiently tested. Plus, Danaa’s ability to stop takedowns is very much up in the air. It isn’t out of the question that Danaa can put away Kang – though Kang hasn’t been finished with strikes except by soccer kicks 14 years ago – but the more likely outcome would appear to be Kang muscling Danaa to the ground time and utilizing his impressive strength to keep Danaa on the just long enough to take a close decision. Kang via decision
- As I started breaking down both Na Liang and Silvana Gomez Juarez, I had to remind myself not to get too impressed about losing in an entertaining manner. That’s what happened to Liang in her UFC debut when she put on an absolute barnburner with Ariane Carnelossi. Liang matched Carnelossi’s aggression and nailed several takedowns, though she ultimately couldn’t match the power of Carnelossi. Given the entertaining nature of that fight, coupled with Juarez’s two first round submission losses in her first two UFC contests, my first thought was to emphatically pick Liang. However, rewatching her contest with Carnelossi also reminded me of Liang’s inattention to defense. Plus, her chances of winning drop dramatically if the fight leaves the opening round. While Juarez has a limited ceiling, she is a gifted striker with enough power to be respected and enough of a track record to prove she can go the distance effectively. Of course, Juarez’s ground game has been exposed as a grievous weakness. I’m not sold on Liang being a plus wrestler, but I think she should get Juarez to the mat and finish her from there… provided Juarez doesn’t drop her first. Liang via submission of RD1
- Given the shallow nature of the women’s bantamweight division, all Joselyne Edwards and Ramona Pascual need to do is figure out how to get and keep the fight where they are at their best and they could end up making some noise. As an outside striker, Edwards is good enough to significantly outstrike her opponents on a regular basis. She’s no powerhouse, but there’s enough sting in her strikes that she needs to be respected. However, while being a smaller bantamweight helps her elusiveness, it doesn’t help her to remain upright when her opponents get their mitts on her. Pascual isn’t exactly a takedown specialist in her own right, but she is exceptionally strong and is at her best operating in the clinch. In space, Pascual isn’t nearly as slick as Edwards, but she isn’t a sitting duck either. If the fight stays on the outside, Edwards should take an easy decision. If it is fought in close quarters – whether that be in the clinch or on the mat – it would be shocking if Pascual doesn’t emerge the victor. While Edwards is younger and has the higher upside – not to mention more experience – Pascual is a bad stylistic matchup for her given Edwards hasn’t mastered maintaining space. I don’t say this with a lot of confidence, but I favor Pascual to emerge victorious. Pascual via decision
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