Pre-fight Analysis

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs The Korean Zombie Preview

Image for UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs The Korean Zombie Preview

The UFC heads to Singapore this weekend for a featherweight showdown between two legends of the division. A showdown at light-heavyweight sees a veteran attempt to get his career back on track after suffering a losing streak in his recent outings and one of the hottest prospects at 145 lbs. makes his return after a year and a half away from the Octagon. 

UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs TKZ

Max Holloway vs Chan-Sung Jung

The main event for the card will see former champion Max Holloway take on Chan-Sung Jung in a bout that many fans feel would have been better booked 5 or so years ago. Holloway is no longer the champion of the division and has had to remain content with eliminating contenders before they manage to reach a title shot. The only man that he has lost to in the last 4 years has been current champion Alexander Volkanovski. Holloway has continued to prove that he remains the best of all the rest in the division picking up victories over contenders such as Calvin Kattar, Yair Rodriguez, and Arnold Allen. Losing to Volkanovski three times now Holloway has entered a strange stage of his career that has not been seen before in MMA where the former champion continues to defeat up-and-coming contenders preventing them from fighting for the belt while also being unable to reclaim his championship at every attempt provided. This has significantly contributed to a stalling in the featherweight division with Holloway continuously beating their up-and-coming talent before they can reach Volkanovski. The champ has been starved for contenders and instead has had to face Holloway in 2 subsequent rematches after beating the Hawaiian for the belt back in 2019.

Holloway’s opponent Chan-Sung-Jung or better known as “The Korean Zombie” is another longtime fighter in the division who last fought in a title challenge against Alexander Volkanovski where he was soundly beaten. Jung has only fought 3 times in the last three years and has been out of action since the loss to Volkanovski in April 2022. A legend of the division “Zombie” is remembered for producing the first-ever finish via the twister submission in UFC history and has fought for the belt twice against Volkanovski and previous champ Jose Aldo, picking up wins over massive names along the way such as Frankie Edgar and Dustin Poirier. Yet his recent performances have not left fans particularly impressed and at 36 he is seen to be a fighter now on the decline. While both Holloway and Jung are two massive names in the division, this fight could have headlined a pay-per-view if booked 5 or 6 years ago, and now feels like an attempt to keep Holloway away from the up-and-comers of the division so featherweight can finally see some new faces and title contenders emerge.

Anthony Smith vs Ryan Spann

Anthony Smith has been a known commodity in MMA for several years now. Making his debut in 2008, Smith spent years outside of the big league with smaller promotions racking up a record of 25-11 before signing with the UFC in 2016. Smith has achieved great things in his time with the promotion picking up wins over legends such as Rashad Evans, Mauricio Rua, and Alexander Gustafsson. His career peaked when awarded a title shot against Jon Jones back in 2019 where he was decisively beaten. With a record of 36-18, Smith is no stranger to setbacks and has suffered two in both of his most recent outings. Admittedly facing tough competition, Smith was defeated by Johnny Walker and Magomed Ankalaev. Despite having over 50 fights in the professional ranks, Smith is still only 35 and could potentially have five years ahead of him if he wished. Still sitting inside the top 10, Smith will be looking to get his career back on track with a win over the last man he defeated on Saturday.

Ryan Spann will welcome the opportunity to avenge his loss to Smith back in 2021. Spann has gone 2-1 since then and was defeated in his most recent outing by Nikita Krylov. Only suffering 3 defeats in the UFC, Spann has established himself as a solid fighter at Light Heavyweight and will see the chance to beat a well-known name such as Smith as the perfect showcase for his skills as a fighter as well as the perfect way to leapfrog his way up the rankings. Light Heavyweight is a fairly shallow division as can be seen by the rise of Johnny Walker who was the last man to beat Smith and is now being discussed as an opponent for Magomed Ankalaev in a number one contender’s bout.

Giga Chikadze vs Alex Caceres

Making his return to the octagon after being defeated by Calvin Kattar in January 2022 is Giga Chikadze. Chikadze started his career in combat sports as a kickboxer in GLORY before making the switch to MMA. After joining the UFC in 2019, he went on a very impressive 7-fight win streak which saw him emerge as one of the hottest prospects in the sport and was riding a massive wave of momentum heading into the fight with Calvin Kattar. He would suffer a resounding defeat to Kattar and his hype train was temporarily derailed. Chikadze took some time away from the sport and over 18 months later has finally decided to make his return to the Octagon.

Having made his UFC debut in 2011, Caceres is a veteran of the Octagon. Hopping between weight classes throughout his career, he seems to have truly established himself as a featherweight and has been in an excellent vein of form. Fighting 8 times in the last 4 years, Caceres has managed to build an incredibly impressive run of 7-1 with the one loss coming to fellow featherweight prospect Sodiq Yussuf. A battle-tested veteran who is in the middle of one of the greatest purple patches of his career ensures that Chikadze will have to be on his best form to pick up the win.

Rinya Nakamura vs Fernie Garcia

Rinya Nakamura will continue his journey in the UFC this weekend. From a country known for producing many mixed martial artists from a variety of disciplines, Nakamura is the latest in a long line of Japanese fighters. The Japanese phenom has established himself as one of the best young wrestlers in the world and became the U23 world champion while also holding Olympic aspirations for the Tokyo games. However, with the postponement of the Olympics due to Covid 19, Nakamura decided to retire from wrestling and transition to MMA. The transition has certainly been a successful one. Making his debut in 2021, Nakamura has gone undefeated in seven fights. Winning the inaugural bantamweight tournament on the company’s new series Road to the UFC.

Fernie Garcia will be looking to get his career back on track with a win over Nakamura. After compiling a record of 9-1-0 outside of the promotion, Garcia was offered a fight on the Contender Series which he ultimately won. Two fights in the promotion, Garcia has picked up two decision losses. Never a place a fighter wants to see themselves in the UFC, especially as a relatively new signing. Garcia will likely be fighting on Saturday with the knowledge that there is more than just a win or loss on the line. His UFC career could be at stake.

Erin Blanchfield vs Taila Santos

A fight at the top of the women’s flyweight division, this bout has title implications written all over it. Number three ranked Erin Blanchfield and #4 ranked Taila Santos square off against one another in a bout that could easily have been placed higher up on the card given the potential impact it could have on the division.

Blanchfield is currently on an 8-fight winning streak and is undefeated in the UFC. She has been a revelation since joining and at only 24, has established herself as one of the brightest young prospects in the world. The winner of four fights in the UFC and currently on a 3-fight submission win streak, Blanchfield has finished the likes of JJ Aldrich, Molly McCann and most recently former champion Jessica Andrade. This has led her to the position where she is now and with a win over Santos on Saturday it seems inevitable that she will be the next for a title shot.

Of course that is easier said than done as she faces a massive challenge this weekend in the form of Taila Santos. Santos is more than capable of finishing a fight by knockout or submission and is an extremely well-rounded mixed martial artist. She has been out of the Octagon for a year now, with her last fight coming against Valentina Shevchenko where she was on the wrong end of a split decision. After the performance against Shevchenko which many felt she won, Santos proved to MMA fans across the globe that she was one of the very best women fighting at 125-lbs.

Junior Tafa vs Parker Porter

The opening bout of the card sees a heavyweight clash between Junior Tafa and Parker Porter. Tafa, who is the younger brother of Justin Tafa(who knocked out Parker Porter earlier this year), is a former GLORY kickboxer and is 4-1 after making the transition to MMA. His lone defeat came at the hands of Mohammed Usman. Tafa will be looking to use the expertise that he accumulated through his career in GLORY to showcase the high-level striking that he undoubtedly holds.

Porter will be looking to build on his last performance that saw him pick up a win over Braxton Smith. In the UFC for 3 years now, Porter overcame some ridicule from fans regarding his stature and appearance and has firmly established himself as a very solid UFC Heavyweight who is more than capable of picking up a string of victories when needed. Now sitting at 4-3 in the division, Porter is somewhat of a gatekeeper in the sense that anyone who beats him is likely ready for a slight step up in terms of competition. He will be looking to take revenge on the Tafa family and avoid getting knocked out by both brothers this Saturday.

Who is the Bantamweight GOAT? Part 2

Who is the Bantamweight GOAT? Part 1

Share this article

Leave a comment