If you've already read my analysis of the preliminary card, you know that I really don't think that there is a whole lot of reason to watch the prelims for the TUF China Finale. As for the main card though, I think that there are some fights worth paying attention to. The main event is two big welterweights with similar smothering styles attempting to put their names in the title mix of the wide-open welterweight division. A pair of heavyweights clash in what will likely result in someone going to sleep. A couple of exciting (even if they aren't elite) bantamweights meet in what will likely be a slugfest as well. I've been wrong before, but I have a hard time believing that those fights won't be exciting.
There will be a final for the welterweight TUF China tournament, but I will admit that really doesn't grab my attention. A featherweight final was scheduled as well, but an injury forced the postponement of that fight at a late stage and thus a replacement fight wasn't created. There is also a featherweight bout involving a couple of fighters looking to change their losing ways... which I don't really have much to add about right here. Keep reading though and I'll give ya what you need to know.
Despite Hathaway not being ranked, I have no problem with this match as the main event. Both are big strong welterweights used to bullying their opponents on the ground and looking to make a move into contendership. This match was supposed to happen in October of 2010... better late than ever.
His UFC record is 9-2, 1 NC and all but two of those fighters are still on the UFC roster, so while his competition level may not be elite, it is very good. Despite a very entertaining KO of Erick Silva in his last bout, Kim is not a KO artist (then again, that punch did show that he can be). Still, he utilizes powerful front kicks as well that are capable of putting out his opponent. He most often uses judo trips or single legs to get the fight on the ground and utilizing his immense size to use stifling top control to neutralize his opponents. He gets in trouble when his opponent is able to avoid his takedowns and attack aggressively on their feet as Carlos Condit and Silva (before he got caught) did to him. Normally he is able to utilize his reach to help opponents keep their difference, but Hathaway is only a half inch shorter in this department and may (not 100% sure) have a speed advantage on Kim.
Hathaway is very similar to Kim. He is best at getting the fight to the ground and pounding out his opponents with some nicely leveraged elbows and punches even though he rarely scores the finish. One thing to keep in mind though, most of those opponents have been much smaller than him. He has sound boxing fundamentals and will likely own the edge there over Kim. Problem is that Hathaway's takedown defense is much more questionable and Kim will try to take advantage of this. Fortunately, he is highly effective at getting back to his feet and transitions. He'll have to be in this fight. Perhaps his best weapon is his knees which he can use in the clinch or to stop a double or single leg takedown. Ask Diego Sanchez about that. He has shown a good chin and stamina too and will likely have the upper hand in both departments.
This is a very tough match to call. If it was a 3 round match I would almost assuredly go with Kim as I don't think his stamina issues would be as prominent. But for 5 rounds? I don't know if he can do that and I don't see either man finishing the other. Still, Hathaway has never gone 5 rounds either and also has to deal with a greater time difference. I expect Kim's takedowns and takedown defense to be the difference. Kim by Decision
Wang Sai (6-4-1) vs. Lipeng Zhang (6-7-1), Welterweight
Our co-main event features two fighters most North American fans have never heard of much less seen fight. But then we do have to remember that Dana White has said these foreign cards are not for the people of North America. Can't think of a better way to exemplify that.
Sai was one of the most experienced fighters on the show with 5 years experience and some fights (and victories) in Legend FC and PXC promotions, shows that hardcore fans are familiar with. Sai produced the most entertaining bout on the show in his victory over Wu Qize as he was relentless in his striking. He has pretty good size as well (especially considering many of the other contestants were natural lightweights) which he would be able to utilize more effectively if he didn't telegraph his takedowns. Still, I expect his size advantage will make it more than likely to expect a takedown from him. He'll only get the submission if his opponent gives it too him gift wrapped, but with his opponents relative rawness, it is quite plausible. He needs to work on his cardio too.
Zhang is one of those natural lightweights that I was referring to and will likely continue his career at that weight once the tournament wraps up. His striking is... not quite as technically sound as Sai's. And that is the nice way for me to put it. He has shown to be submission savvy and is active in looking for them with solid transitions. I'd say his kimura on Albert Cheng was the most impressive of the season. In other words, he doesn't need his subs to be gift wrapped. But he has shown his overall inexperience as well with his tendency to be submitted as he tends to be overaggressive looking for the finish.
I could write more, but I got tired of watching film of these two as they don't excite me that much and I don't want to type up a whole lot. Why? I struggle to see them getting a victory against anyone after this match. Now I'm just being an ass. Sai is the bigger and stronger of the two and competing at his natural weight class. Sounds good enough to me. Sai by Decision
With all due respect to the TUF China competitors, this is the true co-main event as more people will tune in to see two heavyweights with a combined 16 KO/TKO's out of their 21 W's more than the welterweight final. Just sayin...
Jordan is blessed with incredible athleticism for a man his size. Its awesome to see a man his size do a standing back-flip. He just struggles to pull all of his talent together when faced with a step up in competition. And I don't think it has been his game plans up to this point, but the execution of the plan. Do you really think he could stand a chance with Gabriel Gonzaga on the ground? Of course not and Gonzaga's chin has been broken plenty before. But Jordan got stupid and got caught. Back to the drawing board. Jordan is at his best moving forward, but as Gonazaga showed can be countered and has plenty of holes in his defense overall. His uppercut is about as powerful as they come and will put an early end to the fight. His wrestling isn't great and hasn't been the most efficient at getting the fight to the ground, but he has shown capable of stopping the takedown efficiently and with his low center of gravity is great at maintaining top position and raining down heavy GNP.
Mitrione has been around for a while now and at 35, it is far from appropriate to refer to him as a prospect in any sense of the word. If he is going to get better from this point forward, it isn't gonna be by much. All of his fights have been in the UFC as well... but none of his victories are over a current UFC employee. Meathead is far from a walk in the park though. He has powerful punches and deceptive athleticism which you would never guess he possesses by looking at him. This makes him fairly light on his feet and he has very good boxing. My biggest complaint with his striking is that he doesn't effectively use his 82 inch reach. Wait... my biggest complaint is that everyone knows what he is going to do: box. In 9 UFC fights, he has never landed a takedown. Did I say land? I meant attempted. If he were to mix things up and get his opponent to think about what he's gonna do next, he would be that much more effective.
Mitrione is the better overall striker, but Jordan has a much better overall game. Jordan's coaches have done fine jobs of putting together a game plan even if they haven't always gone to plan. I expect Jordan to bullrush Mitrione at some point and get him on the ground to pound out a victory. Mitrione's so-so takedown defense almost assuredly guarantees this. Jordan by TKO 1st Round
As their records pretty much indicate, neither one of these guys are elite. But they do usually put on fun fights so they are totally worth watching.
Phan seems to go back-and-forth from suffering a horrible beatdown at the hands of his opponent that you wonder how he wasn't finished to winning an entertaining slugfest. The guy always throws down and comes back for more. I make it sound like he is a brawler (and in a sense this is true), but the guy has some serious skill. It takes a brawler with some serious skill to land over 100 significant strikes in 4 UFC fights. I just wonder about gameplanning with him. His boxing is very crisp and sound which allowed him to get the better of Leonard Garcia and Cole Miller. But he has also absorbed over 100 significant strikes in 4 UFC fights. That will tell you enough about his striking defense. His loses usually occurred to bigger and stronger fighters, but that shouldn't be an issue for him at this juncture considering he is taking only his second fight at bantamweight after his previous fights during his UFC tenure took place at featherweight. He is considered to be a high level BJJ practitioner, but I can't help but wonder about that... especially when one remembers how Jimy Hettes manhandled him.
The best way to describe Lee is a tough little bastard as he is fairly small even for a bantamweight. But he comes to fight every time out. His reputation pegs him as a submission specialist as his 7 submission wins will attest to, but I'd say he is more of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Don't get me wrong, Lee is a fantastic submission finisher and I realize that everyone points to his triangle transition into an armbar of Kid Yamamoto, but that is a fantastic example of what he is capable of. But he tends to get caught just as often as he does the catching (6 submission losses). Getting into a scramble with Lee is tricky as it could go either way. But as far as my earlier summation of him, he has good wrestling, boxing, etc. and is capable of hurting his opponents with strikes, but he isn't great at anything. For a fun fact though, all of his UFC victories have come against fighters of Asian descent (Kid Yamamoto and Motonobu Tezuka) while losing all matches of other racial descendents. And Phan is of Asian descent. Hmm...
Phan's boxing technique is better than Lee's and while he has shown little offense from his BJJ, he has at least shown good good defense. Lee isn't going to sub him. Both have shown a lot of toughness though and expect them to beat on each other for a full 15. Phan by Decision
Both fighters have hit a rough patch in their careers over the last year and a half and are looking to get back on track. There is a very good chance the loser gets a pink slip.
Menjivar is 4-3 in this stint in the UFC, but those 3 losses have come in his last 4 fights. To make matters worse for the Pride of El Salvador is the fact those 4 wins came against men whose collective UFC record was 2-9... and was is the correct term as none of them are currently employed with the UFC. But Menjivar is far from a chump. He has just about seen it all at the age of 31 and has never been an easy out. In order to jump start his career he is moving back up to 145 after the losses stalled his run at bantamweight. He has a diverse striking set with punches, kicks, elbows, spinning backfists, etc. He usually doesn't show everything in a fight, but it is there. He rarely takes the fight to the ground, but is incredibly submission savvy. His armbar of Azamat Gashimov is one of my all-time favorites.
Hioki has been somewhat of a disappointment since transitioning to the UFC in 2011. He opened with two victories before turning down a title shot with Jose Aldo due to him not feeling ready for it. He couldn't have been more right as he has since lost 3 straight. To his credit, he hasn't been dominated in any match he has lost and hasn't been finished in his career. He is a big featherweight and does a solid job using his reach, but his too content to stand up and trade when he is not only a phenomenal grappler, but a top heavy one as well. He'll have a massive size advantage over Menjivar in this fight and would be stupid to ignore that. He has 12 career submission victories as compared to 4 KO/TKO W's. If that doesn't spell out where he should take the fight I don't know what else would.
I don't know why Menjivar thinks a move up in weight will help him. He struggled with the larger bantamweights in the class and the last 3 losses were to guys who were capable of bullying him. So moving up where the fighters are larger is going to help? Hioki's struggles came from wrestlers... not Menjivar's forte. Hioki gets his career back on track. Hioki by Decision
Record for last Card: 10-1
Record for Year: 49-19
I apologize for getting this out later than usual... but shit happens and I was delayed.