The Pancrase veteran, Kazuki Tokudome (12-4-1), started out successfully enough in the UFC against Cristiano Marcello but then couldn't sustain any offense against Norman Parke. It was the kind of performance you expected to happen sooner or later. After all, how many elite fighters is Pancrase producing nowadays? We're distanced from the days of Genki Sudo, Frank Shamrock, Yuki Kondo, Bas Rutten, and Masakatsu Funaki.
However, Tokudome has proven to be a decent fighter. It's just a question of whether or not he can be a mainstay in the UFC. Yui Chul Nam is a unique fighter to be brought into the Zuffa fold. Fighting out of Team Posse (but started out with Korean Top Team), Nam has amassed a 17-4 record spanning several different promotions: Road FC, Sprit MC, Legend FC...the list goes on.
One of the first things to notice about Chul's game is that he seems to relish his nickname. In this case, the 'Korean Bulldozer'. Frankly, it's a breath of a fresh air. And not just because of freaks like me who are constantly disappointed that guys like Dong Hyun Kim don't walk into the cage with an electroshock weapon. Though depending on the promotion, this is theoretically completely legal.
Chul really does bully the game. No matter what fight you watch, whether it's him scoring a quick ground and poundTKO victory against Toryu Masahiro, or getting junk punched while the camera inexplicably cuts to a bunch of asian ring girls simultaneously laughing about it, you get a vivid idea of what he brings to the table.
He's a massive LW who likes to wade in with big punches with both hands, or burrow his opponent into the canvas with top control. The funny thing is, when Chul actually settles down, he looks like a massively different fighter. His punches are thrown with speed and power so he's actually not all that bad on the feet; he just looks worse than he is at times because he fights in such a rushed manner. His game could use some Ritalin in other words.
Tokudome, as I've mentioned before, like many Japanese fighters is fluid but not dynamic. He strings punches together well, but isn't imposing enough to threaten with strikes. Although five of his wins are by TKO/KO, they come from lengthy exchanges. I feel this bout could go either way if Tokudome exchanges with Chul out the gate, but as is, he's got a much more polished way of doing business on the feet and on the ground. Expect Chul to command the first round, only to lose to trip takedowns and crisp boxing the rest of the way.
Prediction: Kazuki Tokudome by Decision.
There will be a lot of introductions here so let's start with the new kid on the block. Mina isn't what you might consider a prospect at 31 years of age, but he's got some of the new car smell that accompanies undefeated fighters. Fighting out of Epic MMA, he has black belts in both Judo, and BJJ under the tutelage of Roberto Fialho. He's 10-0 currently, with each victory coming by way of finish.
Cummings (16-3)will have a tough time stylistically. Cummings has a knack for chokes, and it's what it looks for. Usually he sets them up with a hard right hand, but he can initiate with takedowns and look for them through the scrambling exchanges.
This is another fight I feel is more unpredictable than it looks on the surface. I could see Mina getting handled on the feet. While his defense needs work, Mina stalks well with his hands up and delivers heavy shots with his right hand to bait the opening for the takedown. Once on the ground, his transitions are seamless. Just check out the 7:54mark when he goes from north/south to armbar in seconds against Eggels Boy. Basically all that stuff about him being a legitimate black belt is true.
In other words, this is not the fight for Cummings to get cute and underestimate his opponent. My only real issue with Mina other than his sometimes desperate striking is that he's been in and out of competition for too long. One fight in 2011, one in 2013, one in 2010, and so forth. It's come against lesser competition, and against someone I feel is fairly underrated and overlooked.
Cummings is dropping down in weight too, so the size disadvantage can either be a blessing or a curse. I expect Cummings to power his way to victory with the superior boxing, but Mina still has the potential to pick up some wins in the UFC.
Prediction: Zak Cummings by Decision.
Albert Cheng vs. Anying Wang Welterweight
Cheng has an unlikely background being from Mississauga, Ontario Canada. Despite debuting in April 2010, he is only 2-2 in his career. What's interesting about Cheng is that his game has a bit of that North American influence. While he's no striking specialist, he will use strikes to set up his takedowns.
And like a the wrestle boxers he imitates, his power is relatively decent. He lunges in with his strikes a little too much, but he moves around enough to keep from being obliterated by counter strikes and his double leg is powerful. Though takedown efficiency is always a difficult trait to measure when your strength of competition is lacking. Still...he does a decent Matt Hughes impression at 29:40.
As for Wang, he hasn't been able to show much. Especially when you consider that he has one pro fight. You can see what he has to offer here, however. He's a fairly strong boxer, all things considered. His left hook is especially violent.
This is another fight that is coin flippage material. There's just not enough information in general. On the surface, it would appear to favor Cheng who has a strong wrestling base which matches up well against Wang's strike first mentality, but I'm not sure that tells us much.
If one of Wang's left hooks lands, Cheng will be counting sheep, but I feel like Cheng's top control should be enough to earn him a hard fought decision.
Prediction: Albert Cheng by Decision.
At age 27, the 'Wild Wolf' fighting out of Xian Sports University sort of takes you by surprise when you watch him. This guy is really form China? I know that question is borderline offensive, but it's not exactly provocative to say that Chinese prospects are lacking. Fighters just don't have access to the kind of resources MMA fighters in America have.
So a guy like Tuerxun stands out. While he's some sort of Chinese version of Charlies Oliveira, he is nonetheless someone who could potentially make waves in the division with the right camp (and surely his brief stint with Pat Healy didn't hurt). His movement is fluid on the feet and on the ground. This knockout over Jiang Long Yun tells you a lot. He has raw power on the feet, but good god is he raw. His jab doesn't exist, and his right hand which he throws more than his left hook is rarely thrown with authority. Nonetheless, it's easy to see his potential; after all, he's nothing if not an athlete.
Eddiva is an interesting fighter himself; in fact, I would argue this is the most evenly matched bout on the undercard on paper. The only question mark is activity: he hasn't fought a pro MMA fight since January 2011, having been bogged down in school work.
However, as one of our readers who should have my job points out, Tuerxun has trouble dealing with rangy fighters, and Eddiva will be able to land his right hand from afar. Tuerxun has some of the most frustratingly inert striking you'll ever see. Again, the guy needs a real legitimate camp. Both fighters do.
But I'm inclined to pick Eddiva because I think his raw power could be enough, but I prefer Juma's ability to work on the ground in top control. Also, he has a very slick guillotine, and I could also very easily see Juma nabbing one once Eddiva goes for the takedown. Yet another tough fight to predict that I believe goes to guy with less ring rust. I say less because Tuerxun hasn't fought since November 2012.
Prediction: Jumabieke Tuerxun by Decision.