UFC Fight Night 34: Preliminary Card Predictions
The UFC Fight Pass is set to launch this week, as the UFC hopes their new digital network is a platform for the future. The $9.99 per-month service is set to have a free trial that will make UFC Fight Night 34 free to view, which will allow fans who wake up early enough to check out the event.
The card is headlined by Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine and Hyun Gyu Lim, who fills in for Jake Ellenberger on late notice. That fight is the main attraction of a card which will heavily feature Asian prospects from the area.
Most of those prospects fight on the prelims. Let's take a look at those fights and make some predictions.
Leandro Issa vs. Russell Doane
Kicking off the card will be a bantamweight scuffle, as Brazilian Leandro Issa, who trains in the South Pacific, takes on Hawaii native Russell Doane, who has cut his teeth in Pacific promotions such as PXC.
Issa is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace who works with Evolve MMA, one of the premiere camps in Asia, especially the Pacific Islands. Issa has gained notoriety through his work with One FC, where he has heightened his name recognition.
His most notable wins to date come against Yusup Saadulaev, Masakazu Imanari and Soo Chul Kim. His seven submissions suggest that he would want to drag Doane down and tap him on the ground.
Doane is a striker, as half of his wins have come from strikes. He has been submitted twice, suggesting he could be tapped by Issa, but in the same account, Issa has been knocked out before making this an intriguing matchup.
Doane owns wins over UFC vet Jared Papazian, Bellator tournament vet Frank Baca and fellow UFC debutant Jon delos Reyes. That is the type of resume that gives him hope.
This will come down to takedown vs. takedown defense. Issa is not a power wrestler, but he has ways of grounding fighters. That said, Doane has fought better wrestlers than Issa and should be able to stop him late.
Prediction: Doane def. Issa via TKO
Dustin Kimura vs. Jon delos Reyes
Next up, we stay in the bantamweight division, as UFC vet and Hawaii native Dustin Kimura welcomes Guam representative Jon delos Reyes to the Octagon.
Kimura is the heavy favorite in this fight, as the UFC vet is 1-1 with the company and has fought some tough competition. He is a grappler with a great guard and good submission game, as seen in submission of Chico Camus in his UFC debut.
He stumbled against Mitch Gagnon in his last fight, but his Canadian counterpart has to be considered a top-20, if not top-15, bantamweight in the UFC right now. That loss should not overshadow victories for Kimura over Camus and Guy Delumeau in his 10-1 pro career.
As for Delos Reyes, the 7-2 bantamweight has made a name for himself in PXC, as have many Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander prospects. "The Heat" has finished all seven opponents, showing a well-rounded game that has seen him tap out four and knockout three.
He is a strong 135er that can muscle people around the cage, but in this fight he will take on a very large bantamweight in Kimura. On the feet or on the ground, Delos Reyes is going to struggle with the more experienced Kimura, which should show in the end result.
Prediction: Kimura def. Delos Reyes via submission
Mairbek Taisumov vs. Tae Hyun Bang
The lightweights are set to do battle next, as Austria's own Mairbek Taisumov travels down to Singapore to meet South Korean banger Tae Hyun Bang.
Taisumov is a well-rounded, rugged veteran of 24 pro fights, many of which have come in the tough M-1 organization. Of his 20 wins, he has finished 19 of them, showing he does not play around when the cage door closes.
He hasn't been beating scrubs either. "Beckan" has defeated such notable opponents as Niko Puhakka, Borys Mankowski and Yuri Ivlev.
As for Bang, the South Korean striker trains with Korean Top Team, the best team in South Korea that services stars like Dong Hyun Kim. Half of his wins come by knockout, showing his willingness to stand in the pocket and headhunt.
Bang is going to look to slug it out with Taisumov, who will be more than willing to engage on the feet. That being said, Taisumov is much more well-rounded and is a better grappler than Bang. That should be where the fight comes to a close.
Prediction: Taisumov def. Bang via submission
Royston Wee vs. Dave Galera
A pair of lesser-experienced bantamweights are set to make a name for themselves, as Singapore's Royston Wee takes on Filipino "Scarecrow" Dave Galera.
Wee is an inexperienced fighter who is just 2-0 in his pro career but got the UFC's attention from the The Ultimate Fighter China tryouts. Not too much is known about Wee, other than the fact that he is undefeated and that he has submitted both of his opponents.
He is taking on a man who is four inches taller and three fights richer in Galera. The Filipino has finished all five of his opponents, three of which are by tapout and two of which are from strikes.
He looks to have a dangerous guard and has cut his teeth in the URCC promotion in the Philippines. His experience and well-roundedness should be able to carry him past the home country kid.
Prediction: Galera def. Wee via TKO
Katsunori Kikuno vs. Quinn Mulhern
Next up are the lightweights, as Strikeforce and UFC vet Quinn Mulhern welcomes Japanese banger Katsunori Kikuno.
Mulhern is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist who will be looking to drag Kikuno to the mat. Of his 18 wins, 11 have come via tapout, with the rear-naked choke being his go-to move.
His striking has developed a bit and he is tall, but he would be stupid to stand with Kikuno.
The Japanese striker has finished over half of his fights via knockout, including three of his last five. The most impressive was a palm strike KO over Takafumi Ito, which impressed all who watched that crazy knockout go down.
The Deep veteran has a stiff opening test in Mulhern, but he has good hips that could defend the takedowns of Mulhern. He keeps him upright and batters him, earning a win in his UFC debut.
Prediction: Kikuno def. Mulhern via decision
Max Holloway vs. Will Chope
The main attraction of the prelims comes in the featherweight division, as UFC vet Max Holloway welcomes "The World's Tallest Featherweight" Will Chope to the Octagon.
Holloway is just 22 years old and is entering his seventh Octagon fight. He is 3-3 with the UFC, beating guys like Pat Schilling, Justin Lawrence and Leonard Garcia. His three losses came to top guys like Dustin Poirier, Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor.
He has good striking, which is easily the best part of his game. He has added some solid grappling to his skill set, but he would assume to keep this fight standing if he wants to win.
Chope is a 6'4" featherweight with 24 fights on his record in just three years. "The Kill" lost four of his first five pro fights, but has since gone 18-1 in that time.
Of his 19 wins, 12 are by submission, with the rear-naked choke being his favorite technique. He would be smart to ground Holloway in this fight.
I'm not sure Chope can get Holloway down, so don't be surprised if Holloway lights him up on the feet. I'm not sure if he will finish him, but he will win convincingly.
Prediction: Holloway def. Chope via decision