UFC 166 is destined to be one of the best shows of 2013, and the first fight on the preliminary card could set the tone for a fun night ahead of us. TUF 14's Dustin Pague (11-8 MMA, 1-4 UFC)looks to avoid a UFC pink slip as he meets young Japanese talent Kyoji Horiguchi (11-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who is making him his UFC debut.
Pague has lost 3 straight, and is quite fortunate to still be in the promotion. One more loss pretty much seals his fate. Horiguchi is an exciting bantamweight with knockout power. The UFC 166 preliminary card starts on Facebook at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT, and continues on Fox Sports 1 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT.
How do these two measure up?
Pague: 27 years old | 5'9" | 74.5" reach
Horiguchi: 23 years old | 5'5" | Unknown reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Pague made it to the semifinals of TUF 14, where he would be felled by eventual runner-up T.J. Dillashaw by unanimous decision. In the season finale, Pague was knocked out by John Albert, but rebounded to get a UFC win by submitting Jared Papazian last year. He's not won a fight since that June 2012 triumph, and two of those losses were by split decision. Two of the fighters he's lost to (Stone and Albert) are no longer with the promotion, so he hasn't exactly been losing to top flight competition either.
Bloody Elbow has had its proverbial eye on Horiguchi for almost two years. He was the 8th ranked bantamweight in the 2012 BE Scouting Report, and has been tearing up competition in Japan. His biggest win was in Tokyo last Christmas, when he won an impressive decision over WEC veteran Ian Loveland. Horiguchi possesses big KO power, fast hands, and an array of kicks that make him so exciting to watch. The question remains whether or not his success in Japan will translate to success in the US.
Why should you care?
I really can't vouch much for Pague, but Horiguchi looks to be someone who could, and given the history of Japanese fighters in the UFC I stress could, be one to watch in the 135 lbs division.