This Saturday marks a monumental occasion for the UFC and possibly the sport of MMA in general, as the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion makes it’s debut in China. The event will air on Fuel TV and the main card features a number of intriguing bouts. Unfortunately for fight fans, they’re going to need to set their alarms early if they want to have any chance of seeing the bouts live as the event starts at 9 a.m. Fortunately for those of you like me, who hate to be awake for nearly any reason there will be a replay later in the night on Saturday.
Live from the CotaiArena in the Venetian Casino on the Cotai Strip, Macau UFC on Fuel: Macao is headlined by former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin taking on former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le. Other main card bouts include Thiago Silva taking on Stanislav Nedkov, Dong Hyun Kim taking on Paulo Thiago, Takanori Gomi battling Mac Danzig, Motonobu Tezuka taking on Alex Caceres as a late replacement and the UFC’s only Chinese fighter Tiequan Zhang opens the main card against Jon Tuck.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: David Mitchell vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
David “Daudi” Mitchell is a 33-year-old American fighter from Windsor, California. Mitchell is a member of the Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance Gym in Santa Rosa, California. Mitchell is a talented grappler who is likely fighting for his UFC life, as he is currently 0-2 in the promotion. Mitchell holds a career record of 11-2, including 9 wins via submission. Hyun “The Ace” Gyu Lim us a South Korean fighter that will be making his UFC debut in this bout. At 6’2” with an 80-inch reach, Lim is a large Welterweight and will hold a pretty significant size advantage. Although he’s known more for his strong striking skills, Lim trains with a talented gym at Korean Top Team and should be well prepared for his debut. He holds a career record of 10-3-1, with 7 victories via Knockout.
Analysis and Prediction: Mitchell is probably going to be overmatched anywhere this fight takes place. Lim is absolutely massive and he has destroyed anyone who has chosen to strike with him in the past. He comes from a strong camp at Korean Top Team and he’ll be well prepared for his UFC debut. Add to that he’s not travelling across the world to make his debut and I don’t see any way that Mitchell can steal this one. Hyun Gyu Lim via TKO in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Jeff Hougland
Analysis and Prediction: Hougland looked pretty impressive on the regional circuit before making his UFC debut. However, he was soundly beaten by Jabouin over the course of three rounds. He doesn’t have the striking skills to hang with Mizugaki. Mizugaki has also faced better wrestlers and better overall competition in his career, Hougland won’t be able to work this bout to the ground and control Mizugaki there. Mizugaki doesn’t have a lot of stopping power and Hougland proved that he was durable as hell against Yves Jabouin, so he’ll probably survive, but that’s about it. Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Riki Fukuda vs. Tom DeBlass
Riki “Killer Bee” Fukuda is a Japanese fighter from Gifu, Japan. The 31-year-old is a member of the Kiguchi Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. Before making his UFC debut Fukuda fought for a number of major Japanese promotions like Dream and Deep. Fukuda is a grinder who first and foremost uses his wrestling to win him bouts. As a youth he was a Japanese All-University Champion wrestler. Since making his MMA debut in 2004, he has compiled an 18-6 pro record. Tom DeBlass is an American fighter from New Brunswick, New Jersey. DeBlass is a former Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight champion of the Ring of Combat promotion. DeBlass is a top grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Training out of the Ocean County Jiu Jitsu Gym in Forked River, New Jersey he holds a professional record of 7-1, with the lone loss coming in his UFC debut against Cyrille Diabate.
Analysis and Prediction: Fukuda is probably never going to make it to the top of his division. He’s pretty one-dimensional with limited striking but a dominating top game. DeBlass was having cardio problems at Light Heavyweight so I can’t imagine that cutting another twenty pounds is going to help there. Fukuda grinds out a late stoppage victory. Riki Fukuda via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Yasuhiro Urushitani vs. John Lineker
Yasuhiro Urushitani is a Japanese veteran of the sport of MMA. Urushitani is a member of the Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. He is a talented counter-striker who has had most of his career bouts under the Shooto promotion’s banner. Currently ranked as a top five Flyweight in the world, he’s competed in 30 career bouts. He holds a career record of 19-5, with an astonishing 6 draws. John “Mao-de-Pedra” Lineker is a Brazilian fighter. Before joining the UFC he fought for a number of smaller promotions including Samurai FC, Shooto and Jungle Fight. Lineker entered the UFC with a lot of hype, mainly due to his iron chin and his extremely aggressive fighting style, but he was unsuccessful in his debut, marking his first loss after a 13 fight-winning streak. Still the member of the EMPORIUM Gym owns a career record of 19-6.
Analysis and Prediction: Urushitani is a talented fighter and a decent counter-striker, but he got absolutely torched by Joseph Benavidez. Lineker is certainly not comparable to Benavidez at this stage of their careers, but he offers some of the same problems. Lineker has an iron chin and aggressive striking mixed with knockout power. Urushitani might win the opening exchanges, but he doesn’t have the power to make Lineker stop chasing him down. From there it’s only a matter of time before he lands the big shot. John Lineker via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Tiequan Zhang vs. Jon Tuck
Tiequan “The Mongolian Wolf” Zhang is a Chinese fighter who holds the distinction of being the first Chinese fighter to ever compete for the UFC. Unfortunately since joining the WEC and now the UFC, he hasn’t had a whole lot of success. Zhang is a talented grappler who holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is a member of the China Top Team Gym, as well as the Black Tiger Fight Team in Beijing, China. Zhang will be returning to 155-pounds after an unsuccessful stint at Featherweight, where he went 1-2 in the UFC. He holds a career record of 15-3.
Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck is a Guamanian fighter who will be making his UFC debut. Despite that, this may not be the first time UFC fans have seen or heard of Tuck, as he was eliminated by Al Iaquinta in the elimination round of The Ultimate Fighter: Live. Tuck is also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is a very experienced grappler having competed for Guam in the World Professional Jiu Jitsu Cup as well as competing in the ADCC submission grappling tournaments. Training out of The Arena in Southern California, Tuck has a perfect professional record of 6-0.
Analysis and Prediction: Zhang has shown limited skills throughout his WEC and UFC careers. Tuck didn’t look overly impressive in his TUF: Live bout against Al Iaquinta, but he has more established grappling skills and can probably win most of the striking exchanges. Zhang is positionally aware on the mat, probably so much so that he won’t get caught in a submission, but Tuck should still take it. Jon Tuck via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Fuel TV): Bantamweight Bout: Motonobu Tezuka vs. Alex Caceres
Motonobu Tezuka is a Japanese fighter from the Cobra Kai MMA Dojo in Nagano, Japan. The 25-year-old is a veteran of the Asian MMA scene having competed for major MMA promotions like Pancrase, Powergate and Deep. Tezuka is taking this bout on late notice after an injury to Kyung Ho Kang forced him to withdraw. Tezuka does his best work on the ground, as his striking is fairly basic. On the ground Tezuka is excellent at controlling his opponents and passing guard. This makes him dangerous as he constantly searching for submissions, however his lack of ground and pound sometimes makes him easy to sweep, and he is prone to giving up positional advantage if he gets too aggressive. He holds a career record of 19-4-4 and has lost only one bout since 2008.
Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres is a 24-year-old American fighter. He is best known for his stint on the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Despite being little more than comic relief on that season due to his personality and his start in a backyard-fighting league, he has turned into a decent prospect since dropping to the Bantamweight division. Caceres is a member of the Young Tigers Foundation training out of Miami, Florida. Caceres has technical striking and although he lacks stopping power, he has some flashy strikes and solid fundamentals. On the ground Caceres is an aggressive grappler who has earned the majority of his wins via Submission. He holds a career record of 7-5.
Analysis and Prediction: Caceres has found new life as a Bantamweight fighter. He has gone 2-1, and should have won the lone loss, as he was deducted 2 points during the bout. Tezuka is taking this bout on late notice and even with time to prepare, he likely wouldn’t be able to hang with Caceres on the feet. He’ll struggle to take Caceres down and even if he gets it there, his sloppiness might hurt him as he leaves himself open to getting swept or submitted by Bruce Leeroy. Alex Caceres via Submission in Round Two
Main Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Takanori Gomi vs. Mac Danzig
Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi is a Japanese fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. Although he has struggled since debuting in the UFC, Gomi was once one of the most feared Lightweight fighters on the planet. He is a former PRIDE Fighting Championships Lightweight Champion and before becoming a full time fighter was a four-time All Japan Combat Wrestling champion. Gomi’s style is that of a typical wrestle-boxer, using excellent takedown defense to keep the bout standing where he can use his massive striking power to land a knockout punch. While at home in Japan, Gomi trains at the Kugayama Rascal Dojo but also trains in the USA at the American Kickboxing Academy. Gomi holds a career record of 33-8 with 1 No Contest.
Mac Danzig is a 32-year-old American fighter who is best known as the winner of the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Danzig is a former King of the Cage champion. Danzig does his best work on the ground, as he is a talented grappler. Despite that he has shored up some holes in his striking and has improved his footwork and defensive movement should allow him to avoid many of Gomi’s big power shots. Danzig was a longtime member of the Xtreme Couture Gym, but has since uprooted himself to Southern California, where he trains with the PKG Gym as well as spending time at the American Kickboxing Academy. Danzig holds a career record of 21-9-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Gomi has looked tentative in his most recent bouts. Short of flattening Tyson Griffin (who is no longer with the UFC) Gomi hasn’t really done anything noteworthy during his time with the UFC. Danzig hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since winning The Ultimate Fighter, but he has been improving rather than getting worse. If Gomi comes in gun-shy, Danzig is going to pepper him from the outside before dragging him to the mat. Gomi isn’t a strong enough grappler to battle Danzig in a grappling battle from his back, so if Danzig earns a takedown he has a strong chance. Gomi can still throw with crushing power if he lets his hands go. If he doesn’t come out with that fire, Danzig cruises to a decision. Mac Danzig via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Dong Hyun Kim vs. Paulo Thiago
Dong “The Stun Gun” Hyun Kim is a Korean fighter from Suwon, South Korea. Kim is a Judo specialist who holds a fourth degree black belt in the sport. Kim has fought for major Asian MMA promotions like Spirit MC and Deep. In addition to his excellent Judo skills, Kim is also a talented kick boxer. Kim is a member of the Busan Team M.A.D. in Busan, South Korea. One of Kim’s biggest assets is his size, as he is extremely large for a Welterweight fighter. This size helps him control his opponents on the ground and his reach also allows him to fight well from a distance. He holds a career record of 15-2-1, with 1 No Contest.
Paulo Thiago is a Brazilian fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. Thiago is well known for the impressive number of talented fighters he’s fought in the UFC, and despite not having a perfect record, he has fared well against many of them. In addition to being a fighter, Thiago is also a full-time police officer, a member of the BOPE Special Forces unit in Brazil. Thiago is a member of the Contrictor Team in Brazil, which is an affiliate gym of the Black House Fight Team. Thiago holds black belts in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He holds a career record of 14-4, with 10 stoppages.
Analysis and Prediction: Thiago has faced an absolute murderer’s row of talent in the UFC’s Welterweight division. That trend continues as he takes on Kim who is certainly going to want to erase the memory of his last loss. Thiago gets a lot of respect for his knockout victory over Josh Koscheck, but he hasn’t knocked anyone out since then and hasn’t really come close. Thiago doesn’t have the grappling skills to keep Kim from controlling him on the ground. Striking it’s a lot closer, but Kim has become a competent kick boxer himself, and if things get heated, he should start looking for a takedown. If Kim fights smart and doesn’t put himself in any unnecessary danger he should cruise to a decision. Dong Hyun Kim via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Thiago Silva vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Thiago Silva is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The 29-year-old holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under famed trainer Jorge Patino. Silva is a talented striker who also has an underrated ground game. Silva is also an extremely tough fighter, able to take a lot of punishment, he has been knocked out only once in his career, by Lyoto Machida. Silva is a former member of the famed Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil, but more recently has switched camps and now trains with the Blackzillians at the Imperial Athletics Gym in Boca Raton, Florida. Silva holds a career record of 14-3-1.
Stanislav “Stucky” Nedkov is a Bulgarian fighter. The 30-year-old is a member of the Bushido Bulgaria Gym in the city of Veliko Tarnovo. Nedkov holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is a former Bulgarian national champion wrestler. Nedkov is a short and compact fighter who can throw big punches and has a number of victories by knockout, but that compactness may give him fits against Thiago Silva, who is a taller fighter. Although somewhat untested, Nedkov still holds a perfect professional record of 12-0, with 10 stoppage victories.
Analysis and Prediction: Nedkov has proven to be a fairly impressive talent and wins over Travis Wiuff and Kevin Randleman have done nothing but make us believe in his talent. However in his latest fight against Luiz Cane he looked a little bit too hittable. A flaw like that could prove costly against someone like Silva who has the power to flatten anyone in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. Add to that injuries and visa issues that have kept him out of the cage for over a year and I’m not sure I like his chances. Nedkov is largely untested on the ground and if he’s like any of the American wrestlers, he won’t like being put on his back. Silva earns takedowns and controls Nedkov en-route to a fairly one-sided decision. Thiago Silva
Main Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Rich Franklin vs. Cung Le
Rich “Ace” Franklin is an American fighter from Cincinnati, Ohio. Franklin is a former UFC Middleweight Champion who before becoming a full-time fighter was a high school math teacher. Despite not being a stereotypical tough guy, Franklin is one of the toughest fighters in the Middleweight division who has only lost to the division’s elite fighters, Anderson Silva twice, Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson. Franklin has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training under Jorge Gurgel. He is also known as one of the UFC’s best ‘company men’ someone who has always been willing to step in on late notice when he’s asked by the promotion. That loyalty combined with Franklin’s strong skills and fan friendly style have basically ensured him a job for life. Despite that he remains a tough test for anyone and is getting no freebie fights from the UFC. He holds a career record of 29-6 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: For all of Cung Le’s flashy strikes and the stories of him sacrificing a lot for this fight, I don’t give him a whole of chance here. Le is coming into this fight with a foot injury, which he’s admitted won’t be 100% come fight time. He’s also been more focused on acting lately as opposed to actually fighting and his last fight was a competitive one against Patrick Cote, although Le eventually did pull off a victory.
Franklin is a tough, well-rounded opponent and is a tough stylistic match up for almost anyone. Especially true if you’re a kick boxer with a fairly limited ground game. Rich is also pretty big for a Middleweight, having fought fairly competitively at 205-pounds, so he’ll be able to muscle Le around should the bout be fought at close quarters. Add to that Franklin is a pretty decent kick boxer in his own right and probably punches with more power (admittedly the edge in kicking power goes to Le) and the stand up could actually lean more Franklin’s way.
In the end they both have a common recent opponent in Wanderlei Silva. Franklin dominated him over the course of five rounds at UFC 147 in Brazil to take a clear-cut decision victory. When Le fought Silva he was beaten to the punch fairly often and was eventually stopped via TKO in the second round. Le’s cardio and chin are suspect, while Franklin has only been stopped by Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort. Franklin has fought for five rounds in the past, and Le oftentimes looks like he can’t fight for a full three rounds without gassing. There’s just too many advantages for him in this fight, and over the course of five rounds, I think Rich finds a stoppage in the fourth or fifth. Rich Franklin via TKO in Round Four