There are a couple of familiar names on this portion of the UFC Singapore, Teruto Ishihara being the most notable. The personable young bantamweight has struggled recently, dropping three of his last four contests. Despite his recent struggles, he’s getting what appears to be his toughest test to date in a man making his UFC debut. There’s a very strong chance you haven’t heard of Petr Yan. Give the Russian a year. I got a feeling a lot more people will know his name by then….
The prelims begin on Fight Pass at 4:30 AM ET/1:30 AM PT on Saturday.
Teruto Ishihara (11-5-2) vs. Petr Yan (8-1), Bantamweight
Am I the only one who wishes the UFC would stop censoring Ishihara? When the Japanese youngster first entered the UFC, he was best known for his catchphrase, “I love my bitches?” PC or not, it was personable and comical. Ishihara looked like he could become a fan favorite. Now that he’s no longer allowed to speak like that after receiving a chat from the UFC higher-ups, he’s just another guy on the roster.
Ishihara’s status can’t be completely blamed on the UFC management. His development as a fighter has stalled, showing no improvement in his wrestling or stamina. His takedown defense began to show some serious progress in his most recent contest against Jose Alberto Quinones, stuffing more than half of his opponent’s attempts for the first time in his UFC career since his debut against Mizuto Hirota. Plus, he fought at a measured pace to ensure he wasn’t gassed by the end of the contest. Then again, Quinones isn’t a top-notch wrestler. Nonetheless, it’s hard to believe Ishihara won’t be at his most dangerous in the first round, launching himself at full power with explosive single strikes.
Yan is not only the newcomer, but the fighter with less fights under his belt. You’d never guess by watching the Russian fight in the cage, exhibiting a confidence and calmness that comes with years of experience. Yan prefers to pick his spots, countering over the top of his opponent’s jab and swarming once he has them hurt. He gradually picks up the pace as the fight goes and has excellent head movement with a varied kicking arsenal serving as the heart of his attack.
Ishihara is going to have a hell of a time getting back on the winning track. Yan is very disciplined on the feet and doesn’t get enough credit for his work in the clinch. That doesn’t even mention his sprawl, meaning Ishihara’s wrestling improvements are unlikely to be put on display against the Russian newcomer. Yan picks up an emphatic win in his UFC debut, Ishihara only surviving to the end of the contest thanks to his incredible toughness. Yan via decision
Felipe Arantes (18-9-1, 2 NC) vs. Song Yadong (12-4, 1 NC), Featherweight
Arantes’ return to the featherweight division didn’t go as he hoped, getting knocked down four times in the first round alone by Josh Emmett. Normally an aggressive kickboxer with a kick-heavy approach, Arantes has displayed one of the most active guards in the UFC, including two consecutive armbars from off his back. However, his comfort off his back has created other problems as he can also be controlled by a top-heavy grappler. It isn’t that Arantes is incapable of sweeping his opponent; too often he chooses not to.
At 20 years old, Yadong is one of the youngest fighters on the roster. He is an impressive athlete with a lot of natural power, knocking Bharat Kandare silly before submitting him with a guillotine. However, Kandare is one of the worst fighters to ever fight in the modern UFC. To say Yadong’s striking requires refinement would be a major understatement. Nonetheless, his pressure and relentless nature are difficult to overcome when combined with his deep gas tank.
If the UFC is patient with Yadong, they could have an action fighting stalwart from China to go along with Li Jingliang. It’s plausible Yadong could clock Arantes and finish him off with a submission like he did with Kandare, but Arantes’ durability and resilience are amongst his most defined qualities. Yadong has yet to face someone of Arantes’ ability and should learn a lot from what will likely be a losing effort. Arantes via submission of RD1
Rolando Dy (9-6, 1 NC) vs. Shane Young (11-4), Featherweight
Dy had originally been informed he was going to be released following his loss to Ishihara last fall. Then the UFC changed its mind once it realized it needed bodies for the Shanghai card and Dy redeemed himself… though it may have been his worst performance in the UFC yet. A solid counter striker with a still developing wrestling game, Dy has been plagued by a lack of discipline while falling into bouts of inactivity, a bit of a surprise given his boxing background.
Young put on a better than expected showing against Alex Volkanovski, showing better than expected takedown defense against the best wrestler the UFC has seen come out of Australia. Nonetheless, Young was still taken down five times and was unable to utilize his aggressive striking out of fear of the takedown. Against a lesser takedown artist, Young likes to advance aggressively while leading with a jab and following with simple combinations.
While I’m not crazy about the long-term prospects of either fighter, I like what Young brings to the table a bit more. Though their wrestling is comparable, Young has shown more in the scrambles in addition to more consistent aggression on the feet. Dy probably has a bit more oomph in his strikes, but not enough for me to favor him. Young via decision
Song Kenan (12-3) vs. Hector Aldana (4-0), Welterweight
There weren’t a lot of people who were expecting Kenan’s UFC debut to prove successful. However, all it took for him to get Bobby Nash out of the cage was 15 seconds. Even though he got a quick KO, it would be a surprise to see him repeat a KO as his technique is very raw. The funny thing is, he’s the more proven quantity in this contest as Aldana hasn’t had a professional contest since 2013.
Aldana did show promise on TUF Latin America 2, but there is also zero subtlety to his approach. Aldana marches forward swinging heavy heat… much like Kenan. Aldana does mix his hooks to the body and head with equal aplomb, but he struggles to find a home for some of his shots given his nature to telegraph his actions.
There is a strong possibility this fight devolves into a fun brawl, but it could also be extremely ugly. I’m favoring Kenan as he’s been more active and has a more established wrestling game whereas Aldana didn’t offer much resistance to wrestling in his appearance on TUF Latin America. Sure, that was three years ago and he could have improved by leaps and bounds, but how am I supposed to know? I have to favor Kenan with the available information. Kenan via TKO of RD2