UFC Singapore came and went without most people aware that it happened. In fact, many of those who were aware of it chose not to view it live. Well… the North American audience at least. The main event saw Leon Edwards outpoint Donald Cerrone in a five-round decision. It wasn’t an instant classic by any means, but it wasn’t a hard-to-watch slog in the veins of what Darren Till and Stephen Thompson put audiences through a few weeks back. The win establishes Edwards as a part of the new wave of welterweight talent looking to make its mark on the division as Cerrone and his older welterweight counterparts fade out.
The rest of the action featured names only hardcore fans would recognize… and a few names even many of them wouldn’t be familiar with. A number of Asian prospects walked out with wins, providing a glimmer of hope for the Far East to become relevant in the UFC scene sometime in the near future. So who began building a name for themselves? Keep reading….
Leon Edwards: Edwards did what he was expected to do: outpoint Cerrone in a five-round contest. While he didn’t secure a finish – which really would have put an exclamation point on his performance – it can’t be said it was for lack of trying. Besides, he was in clear control of the fight from the opening bell. It isn’t like Cerrone isn’t a tough bastard. Though the win could have produced more excitement, it was the biggest win of his career and shouldn’t be put down.
Ovince Saint Preux: It feels weird for some of us to say OSP is a part of the old guard of 205 – it still feels like there is untapped potential in the former UT linebacker – but he isn’t ready to step aside either. He endured a hell of a flurry from Tyson Pedro, escaped from a guillotine, and turned the tables on the Aussie. Then he locks in a straight armbar to remind us Jon Jones may be the only light heavyweight on the planet with a deeper bag of tricks. He may be too inconsistent to be a title contender, but OSP is still one of the most dangerous light heavyweights on the planet.
Jessica Eye: One of the most maligned members of the roster thanks to her propensity for mental errors, Eye put forth what may have been the most complete performance of her UFC career. She maintained her poise, even after eating a few hard punches and secured a decisive victory over a fighter on the up-and-up in Jessica-Rose Clark. Has Eye overcome her demons in the cage once and for all? Indications at this point are yes.
Li Jingliang: After a disappointing performance in his last outing, Jingliang rebounded with a vintage Jingliang performance. Daichi Abe couldn’t withstand the pressure of Jingliang, wilting under Jingliang’s constant assault. Jingliang may not have gotten the finish, but if that’s the only complaint anyone can level against the Chinese veteran, that’s a hell of a night.
Petr Yan: Yan lived up to the high expectations placed upon the newcomer, becoming the first person to put away the tough and durable Teruto Ishihara. Adding to the impressive nature of his feat, he did so in the first round. For all the impressive performances from prospects on this card, Yan appears to be the most ready to make an immediate impact.
Song Yadong: The UFC gave Yadong a softball in Bharat Khandare in his first UFC contest. In his sophomore effort, they gave him a proven veteran in Felipe Arantes. It made little difference. Yadong dominated the Brazilian, bullying him on the ground and in the clinch with a heavy elbow in close quarters finishing off Arantes. The scary part: Yadong is only 20-years old. Could he prove to be China’s first superstar? We’re a long way from that, but he has the best chance of anyone at this juncture.
Shane Young: One of the biggest knocks against the Kiwi is that he lacks power. Maybe we should start rethinking that idea. He rocked Rolando Dy on multiple occasions before finally finishing off his opponent with a brutal flurry. Young fought like he had something to prove. It’s safe to say he proved it.
Song Kenan: It may have taken a little longer than expected given the UFC set him up to win, but Kenan’s highlight reel finish eventually showed up late in the second round. Given he is less than four years in his career, it’s fair to say Kenan is a way away from topping out as a fighter, meaning he could prove to be worth the time the UFC looks like it will be investing in him.
Jake Matthews: A few years ago, after disposing of Johnny Case, many were declaring that Matthews had arrived. A couple of disappointing losses later and Matthews decided to move up to welterweight. He hasn’t looked back since, disposing of Shinsho Anzai with ease. While I want to say Matthews has NOW arrived, the kid is still just 23. So even if he hasn’t arrived, he has time to do so. And if he hasn’t arrived, what the hell will he look like when he does?
Yan Xiaonan: The UFC has been trying hard to find fighters out of China to litter their roster, often times leading to token roster spots. Yan proved she isn’t a token fighter when she took out an established name in Viviane Pereira. Pereira isn’t a contender, but she’s a tough out. Yan outworked the Brazilian to earn a well-deserved victory.
Matt Schnell: Though his win over Naoki Inoue wasn’t the most exciting contest, it’s a win for a fighter whom many considered too chinny to be holding a firm grasp on a roster spot. Now the owner of consecutive victories, Schnell may be just the type of gatekeeper the UFC needs to be testing their flyweight prospects.
Ulka Sasaki: Aside from allowing Jenel Lausa to piece him up early in the second round, Sasaki looked great. He relentlessly chained his takedowns together and showed a strong chin. The maneuver he used to get Lausa’s back for the finishing sequence was one of the slickest passes I’ve seen in a long time. Its easy to forget Sasaki is still only 28 despite having been on the UFC roster since 2014.
UFC 226: Even though the UFC decided to provide a buffer of a week for International Fight Week – featuring UFC 226 – there are still a lot of fans who suffer from burnout. That many people ignored or were completely unaware of this card gives an even greater amount of time for many fans heading into the week. I doubt it helps the PPV buys on 226 much – if at all – but everyone is aware how much every little bit counts towards UFC’s ownership. As Dana White said himself, “we don’t have that much money.”
Jessica-Rose Clark: Is it just me, or did Clark look like she was fulfilling the role typically reserved for Jessica Eye? Clark had a few nice flurries, but never put together a sustained attack the way she did in her first two UFC contests. While the loss to Eye hurts, the loss of momentum may be what hurts more as she could have left Singapore with a three-fight win streak, the only such streak completely within the confines of the flyweight division. Ouch.
Daichi Abe: To be fair, this wasn’t a terrible performance for Abe. He just couldn’t withstand Jingliang’s constant assault to pick him apart. The problem is, he dropped a winnable contest against Luke Jumeau in his last appearance and needed a win here to remain on firm ground. Abe is still young which could buy him more time, but not much. The UFC doesn’t appear to have much invested in the youngster.
Teruto Ishihara: Though there were a few things about Ishihara I noticed to indicate the youngster is still improving, it didn’t matter. He was put in the cage with his toughest challenge yet in Yan and was put away with relative ease from the Russian newcomer. Given he has now lost four of his last five, Ishihara is on thin ice. I would say his personality would save him, but the UFC brass has neutered him. Sigh….
Felipe Arantes: I don’t want to take anything away from Yadong as the youngster looked very impressive, but that didn’t look like the Arantes we’re all familiar with. Perhaps getting knocked down time and again by Josh Emmett in his last contest got into Arantes’ head. Regardless of what it was, he was dominated by Yadong. That may be the last time we see Arantes in the Octagon.
Shinsho Anzai: Anzai was expected to lose to Matthews, but the hope was he would be more competitive than what he showed. Matthews trucked over the Japanese wrestler, Anzai scoring zero significant offense. To make matters worse, Anzai refused to tap and was put to sleep in the process.
Viviane Pereira: Pereira probably thought she was getting an easy win when she stepped in to face Yan on short notice. After all, who was the last successful Chinese women’s fighter? Instead, Yan came to fight and Pereira let an eminently winnable fight slip through her fingers due to a lack of activity. Not a good look for the Brazilian.
Jenel Lausa: I hate putting Lausa here as he’s in a tough spot. He’s got potential to become a fun action fighting flyweight, but he’s not far enough along in his development for him to be competing with the vast majority of the UFC flyweight roster. Now at 1-3, he could be on his way out despite showing some progress. Tough loss, but Lausa may be better off getting a few fights outside the organization anyway.
Melinda Fabian: To be fair, it isn’t like Fabian looked horrible in her loss to Ji Yeon Kim. It was a competitive contest that easily could have gone Fabian’s way. However, it felt like Fabian let the opportunity slip by. Combine this with the terrible contest with DeAnna Bennett last December and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this is the last we see of the Hungarian product in the Octagon.
Neil Swailes: I never knew who Swailes was before this event either, but the unknown referee made a name for himself with a bonehead maneuver. After Bruce Buffer announced Yan Xiaonan as the winner, Swailes proceeded to cause confusion by raising the hand of Viviane Perreira. Their names aren’t that similar… are they? Things got sorted in the end, but not a good way to introduce yourself to MMA fans.
Donald Cerrone: I don’t always agree with Cerrone, but he was right when he stated his stock isn’t hurt by this loss. He didn’t completely look himself early in the fight, but slowly started to resemble the form we’re familiar with. Even then, he couldn’t kick it into high gear. Come to find out later he had been throwing up earlier in the day and his performance makes all the sense in the world. Cerrone will never be a title contender again, but he’s still a fun action fighter.
Tyson Pedro: I can’t discount all the good Pedro did prior to OSP finding the straight armbar. The youngster had the vet hurt BADLY, coming this close to finishing him. Pedro proved he’s ready to hang with the top ten of the division. Given the fight was largely a toss up, that’s not a bad verdict to walk away with from a guy who has yet to complete ten professional contests. If only he could have found the finish….
Rolando Dy: Sure, Dy suffered a hell of a beating at the hands of Shane Young. That sentence in itself would be enough to put him in the loser’s column for some people. However, Dy also fought extremely hard, hurting Young on several occasions, and put on a hell of a show for the audience. It may not be enough to save his UFC employment, but props to the young Filipino.
Hector Aldana: I don’t want to say Aldana deserves his spot on the roster yet, but he didn’t embarrass himself against Kenan. A strong argument could be made Aldana was winning the fight until he got reckless and allowed Kenan the perfect opportunity to counter with a powerful right hand. However, everything before that was beyond expectations.
Naoki Inoue: We all knew this type of a loss was going to be coming for Inoue sooner or later as he hasn’t faced much in terms of quality competition up to this point. He was a better athlete than Schnell, but he couldn’t simply overwhelm him either, allowing Schnell’s veteran savvy to make up the rest of the ground. Inoue will learn from this loss and should come back stronger. After all, the kid is still just 21-years old.
Ji Yeon Kim: Sure, there is less controversy surrounding her win over Fabian for Kim – improving her UFC record to 2-1 in the process – but she still hasn’t put forth a performance that says she belongs. There was never a feeling Kim was in control of the fight. She only did just enough in a ho-hum kickboxing contest.