The biggest takeaway from UFC Fight Night 34 was the Fight Pass Experience, which was a surprisingly good experience, at least for American servers. The video quality was excellent, and I experienced no lag time or bouts or buffering or reloading watching live. On watching some matches on replay there was a bit of buffering, but again the video quality was very good.
It was a strong first showing for the UFC Fight Pass, but that shouldn't be shocking. The UFC's experience streaming fights on Facebook allowed them to work through many of the problems promotions run into when attempting to stream events live online. And it is experience that served them well because if there were mass video outages, or widespread quality issues, lag time, or other technical issues and the UFC Fight Pass would be dead on arrival. Very few of the free trail crowd would likely stick around when the $10 charge kicked in if their first impression was a bad one.
My one complaint thus far is the fight library is far from complete and is difficult to navigate but I am willing to wait and see if those problems will be addressed in the coming months.
Thoughts on the fights;
- Tarec Saffiedine wore down Hyun Gyu Lim with leg kicks and a very measured attack. Lim is likely the better athlete, but spent himself with wild striking, while Saffiedine picked his spots very well and took the fight over in the later rounds. Not the kind of showing for Saffiedine that really sets him apart from other welterweights, but a solid, veteran win.
- Tatsuya Kawajiri similarly turned aside the initial, youthful energy of the athletic Sean Soriano. It wasn't easy win for Kawajiri, Soriano got some very good cracks in but eventually the chain wrestling of Kawajiri and his hyper-accruate ground and pound, combined with Soriano's habit of giving up his back, did in the young American fighter. Soriano showed good promise in this fight and could develop into a solid fighter.
- Luiz Jorge Dutra likely will not be asked back to the UFC after his blatantly illegal elbows got him disqualified. Dutra is a bit of a wild card, he once blew out his knee trying to throw a flying kick against Paulo Thiago in a Jungle Fight match.
- Kyung Ho Kang continues to find new ways to get screwed by the referees and judges as referee Steve Perceval took two points from Kyung Ho Kang for two 12-to-6 elbows. Taking a point per illegal strike, and with the illegality of the strikes being debatable, is an interesting way of approaching refereeing but not the norm at all. Kang overcame it though and seemed be on his way to winning a tight decision before he locked up that arm-triangle. Kang is a far better fighter than his 1-2 UFC record suggests and could end up being a dangerous bantamweight.
- Max Holloway broke WIll Chope down in what was a very fun little brawl. Chope is still a decent prospect and tough as nails, but he uses it and his reach to make up for a lack of technical ability. He is very dangerous in the clinch and with his knees.
- Katsunori Kikuno won his fight mostly because Quinn Mulhern was the only man in the cage fighting in a way that is less friendly the Unified Rules' scoring criteria. Mulhern was unable to get Kikuno to the ground and when he pulled guard he had no chain of submissions to really use. Kikuno won, but he was not overly impressive. His style is very technical, but very low in activity and volume. Kikuno is going to crescent kick some guy's heads off in the UFC, but anyone with a decent move and point game who is able to survive his bursts of offense will take a contentious decision from him.
- A quick rundown of the rest of the action - Royston Wee beat Dave Galera by virtue of being slightly less terrible at MMA. The other three winners in Mairbek Taisumov, Dustin Kimura, and Russell Doane are interesting prospects that will need some developing, which is exactly what these Fight Pass cards are going to be - development cage time for prospects.