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Welcome to the UFC: Song Kenan, Sheymon Moraes, Muslim Salikhov and Wang Guan

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Three strikers with superstar potential cap off the list of debuting fighters at UFC: Shanghai

The last four fighters to debut at UFC: Shanghai include two Chinese prospects and two world class strikers. The first is a Chinese Top team stand out who is looking to draw attention to China’s growing talent pool. Next is a Brazilian striker that throws some of the best standing elbow strikes in the sport. Then, one of the greatest Wushu Sanda fighters to ever compete. Finally, a Chinese striker who has compiled a impressive collection of knockouts since crossing over to mma eleven years ago.

Who is Kenan Song?

27 year old Chinese prospect Kenan Song earned his label of China’s top welterweight by winning six in a row, but he has fallen on hard times losing his last two bouts at home. Song is another Chinese Top Team fighter looking shed some light on his nation’s rapid improvement in hand to hand combat. Whether it’s via knockout or submission Song is a guy that rarely hears the final bell. In his 16 fights only 4 have gone the distance, a stat that must have jumped out at UFC matchmakers looking to sign Chinese talent. His biggest win to date was over Pride Fighter and Japanese mma pioneer Sanae Kikuta in his fourth professional fight.

What should you expect?

This is another Chinese representative who is clearly learning the sport the right way. His intentions of being a well rounded fighter are apparent in his record which contain six submissions and five knockouts. On the feet he is fundamentally sound, he works behind his jab, has good footwork and frequently mixes in hard kicks to the body. His chin has held up well with his only KO/TKO loss coming from a body shot from muay thai standout Brad Riddell. Song is very sticky on the mat and does a good job of giving his opponents very little space to work. I hate to sound like a broken record on my analysis of these Chinese fighters, but his lack of wrestling will be at a tremendous deficit to most fighters in the octagon.

What this means for his debut?

Song will take on former Michigan State wrestler Bobby Nash, who his team mate Jingliang defeated this past January. This is not an ideal debut opponent for Song. Nash is 0-2 in his previous UFC fights and has faded late severely in his two losses, but he is a strong wrestler who will be able to take Song down at will. Song will have to endure the early take downs to advantage of Nash’s stamina issues, but after dropping his first two Nash’s back will be up against the wall to get in the win column. Nash Unanimous Decision

Check out Song’s war with Kickboxer Brad Riddell:

Who is Sheymon Moraes?

27 year old Team Noguera fighter Sheymon Moraes will get the call to the octagon after several highlight reel knockouts in the World Series of Fighting promotion. Moraes made the switch to mma from muay thai in 2012 and has compiled quite the list of victories including his two most recent over Robbie Peralta and Luis Palomino. Moares will be an excellent addition to a bantamweight division loaded with other elite strikers like TJ Dilashaw, Dominick Cruz and Marlon Moraes, who gave Sheymon his only professional loss in a WSOF title fight.

What Should you expect?

Moraes is an artist with his elbows, he slips them through his opponents guards at unexpected angles to turn their faces into a bloody canvas. The former Bitetti Combat bantamweight champion will bring a violent muay thai game to the octagon that may only be matched by Edson Barboza. Much like Barboza, Moraes attempts to keep his fights standing by any means necessary, but if he should end up on his back his training with Anderson Silva and the Noguiera brothers will give him the tools needed to scramble back to his feet.

What this means for his debut?

Sheymon Moraes will meet Mark Henry trained Russian Zabit Magomedshapirov in his octagon debut. Moraes will undoubtedly be in the bantamweight top ten for years to come, but his debut opponent is a man that many believe is the future of the division. Zabit is an assassin on the feet and the mat, if he choses to stand with Moraes it may be fight of the year. Magomedshapirov will have a significant advantage in the wrestling department and once he gets it to the mat Moraes will be in survival mode. Moraes will make it through a couple ground exchanges, but Zabit’s slick submissions will eventually catch him. Magomedshapirov RNC 1st

Check out Moraes using his elbows to dispatch his opponent with style (fight start at 5:08):

Who is Muslim Salikhov?

The 33 year old “King of Kung Fu,” Muslim Salikhov earned his UFC call up with his most recent spinning heel kick knockout of Melvin Guillard that dropped the middle aged assassin in a Terry Etim like free fall. Salikhov has been simultaneously competing in MMA and wushu sandu (a sport where he is a five time world champion and widely considered one of the greatest competitors to ever participate). A proud Dagestani, Salikhov trains at home, as well as abroad at premier fight camps like ATT Coconut Creek and Nova Uniao. Salikhov is a huge under the radar signing that will be a mma household name by the end of 2018.

What should you expect?

Muslim Salikhov is to Dagestani striking what Khabib Nurmagomedov is to Dagestani wrestling. The two are the best in their country at their chosen art form and have helped create the immense rise in popularity in Dagestan. Salikhov throws spinning attacks like no other fighter in MMA. He gives no tells of when he is going to spin and whether they are to the body or the head the intentions are deadly. His lone defeat was a rear naked choke in 2012, but since then he has reeled off 11 straight, all but one via first round stoppage.

What this means for his debut?

Salikhov could not have asked for a better debut opponent then Alex Garcia. Garcia is a powerful wrestler and knockout puncher, but he will likely be no match for Salikhov’s world class striking. I expect Salikhov will land a hard counter on the imposing Dominican to get the early stoppage and knock out of the night bonus. Salikhov Knockout 1st

Enjoy Salikhov’s spinning heel kick knockout of Melvin 14 times in row:

Who is Wang Guan?

The 31 year old “Dongbi Tiger” Wang Guan crossed over to mma in 2016 following a successful striking career in Sanda, Muay Thai and Kickboxing. Since his transition to MMA he has taken the sport over in his native China, winning 16 of 17 bouts including a 2015 victory over newly signed UFC fighter Aussie Shane Young. His lone defeat was to World Series of Fighting title contender Bekbulat Magomedov in 2013. Guan has only fought outside of his home country on a few occasions and he will keep his home field advantage when he debuts in Shanghai.

What should you expect?

Expect fireworks! Guan overwhelms his opponents with volume and power. The world class striker is aggressive in the pocket and chains together seamless combos that he will often punctuate with hard kicks. Guan has focused much of his training on wrestling since the loss to Magomedov and his grappling improvements have been evident in the following fights. Wang Guan is China’s first legitimate shot at a superstar in the UFC.

What this means for his debut?

Wang Guan will meet Alex Caceres for his debut bout a fight that was originally supposed to take place in June but was scrapped when Guan was injured. Caceres will be a willing dance partner for the Chinese striker, who will do everything in his power to keep this fight standing. Caceres is the more complete mixed martial artist, but his confidence in his striking will be his down fall. The rookie will take advantage of his open free wheeling striking style in a early exchange. Guan Knockout 1st

Here is a short compilation of Wang Guan’s explosive finishes in the cage: