The dust has settled on what was the UFC’s second event in Macau, China on Saturday night as the promotion played host to an extraordinary TUF: China Finale event at The Venetian’s Cotai Arena.
TUF: China Finale – What’s next for the main card winners?
The main event served as an ill-fated return for British prospect John Hathaway, who succumbed to a devastating elbow knockout at the hands of Dong Hyun Kim in the third round of their 170-lbs clash. But Kim was relentless with his pace throughout, and was looking for the all-important knockout from the get-go. The South Korean had a bright start in the opening stages of the fight as he staggered Hathaway with strikes repetitively, allowing no space or time for his English counterpart to recover. Hathaway, though, showed great guts and composure and fought through the onslaught, ensuring the fight went to a second round. After gaining some momentum in his corner, Hathaway was able to tee off with his trademark knees and elbows as Kim kept his constant forward pressure. But in the third frame, Kim timed one of Hathaway’s elbows to perfection, and countered with an elbow of his own which immediately knocked the Brit out senseless. It was poetry in motion yet absolutely devastating at the same time.
Kim, 32, is now on a four-fight winning streak, and is coming off two back-to-back brutal knockout stoppages.
The co-main event saw Zhang Li Peng garner the TUF: China Welterweight tourney crown and receive a six-figure contract from the UFC. It’s customary for the TUF winners to be lucratively awarded, although in Zhang’s case, it came in rather controversial circumstances against his opponent, Wang Sai. Zhang landed a couple of takedowns in the fight and even had a close submission or two, but Wang Sai shrugged away every single attempt. Sai came back strongly in the second and third rounds, but it wasn’t enough. Not at least in the judges’ point of view.
Elsewhere on the main card, in a battle of former pro footballers, Matt Mitrione got back in the win column after securing a TKO victory against Shawn Jordan at Heavyweight, while Hatsu Hioki snapped his three-fight losing run in a tightly contested Unanimous Decision triumph over Ivan Menjivar at 145-lbs.
So with that, it’s that time again where we at MMASucka.com play “matchmaker” and derive match-ups that could materialize for the main card winners. Sitting on the matchmaker’s armchair is no easy task by any standards so if your solutions differ from ours, state them in the comments section below.
Let’s get started!
- Name: Hatsu Hioki (27-7-2)
- Who he should contest next: Charles Oliveira (17-4, 1 NC)
Simply put, Hatsu Hioki’s performance in his victory over Ivan Menjivar on Saturday night was vintage – takedowns, control and just accurate striking with his reach and range. It’s been three years since the Japanese fighter last finished an opponent but that doesn’t take away his quality in the fight game. He’s deceptive, methodical and his fight style could perhaps give Brazilian starlet Charles Oliveira something to think about. Oliveira’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai has been well documented over his last couple of outings, and it’ll be interesting to see if the 24-year-old can be the first fighter to ever finish Hioki.
- Name: Matt Mitrione (7-3)
- Who he should contest next: Winner of Jared Rosholt (9-1) vs. Daniel Omielanczuk (16-3-1, 1 NC)
“Meathead” Mitrione has always had great stand-up skills as evident in his TKO victory over Shawn Jordan. His last four fights, which includes a pair of wins and losses, have all ended in the first stanza. It would be befitting to have the 35-year-old pitted up against the winner of the Jared Rosholt-Daniel Omielanczuk tilt at UFC Fight Night 40 in Abu Dhabi next.
- Name: Zhang Li Peng (8-7-1)
- Who he should contest next: Kiichi Kunimoto (16-5-2, 1 NC)
Zhang Li Peng took home a controversial split decision victory over Wang Sai en route to claiming the TUF: China Welterweight crown. Despite his experience in the competition, it’s still early days for the former Legend FC vet now that he’s in the UFC. It would be interesting to see how the Chinese fighter fares against former Heat champ Kiichi Kunimoto in his next octagon appearance.
- Name: Dong Hyun Kim (19-2-1, 1 NC)
- Who he should contest next: Matt Brown (18-11)
With vicious back-to-back knockouts under his belt, South Korea’s Dong Hyun Kim is well on his way to becoming the UFC’s first Asian champion. And while the likes of Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit are right among the contenders’ mix, it would be perfect to see Kim in match-up with Matt Brown next, who just like the South Korean, is on an absolute rampage. And my oh my, this would be a match-up to savor.
For full TUF: China Finale results, click here.
*Photos credit: Ultimate Fighting Championship