God, I hope no one breaks his leg at UFC Fight Night 34. In the first event since Anderson Silva's unfortunate injury incident at UFC 168, the promotion travels to Singapore with its ever-expanding product.
Perhaps the action in the Far East will feature more customary brutality and not the "I-wish-I-could-unsee-that" feeling the UFC 168 main event included. The 10-fight card is historic for a few reasons. It is the first UFC event held in Singapore and the first not to be televised in the United States.
Stateside fans will have to catch the event via the UFC's new subscription-based service. Moving forward, legacy content and some future events will also be viewable via the Fight Pass.
The UFC Fight Pass goes for $9.99 USD per month but is available via free preview until Feb. 28.
The main event for the card in Singapore is a welterweight clash featuring Belgian Strikeforce veteran Tarec Saffiedine vs. budding South Korean star Hyun Gyu Lim. Originally, Saffiedine was supposed to take on Jake Ellenberger, but an injury forced him out of the fight.
Neither Lim nor Saffiedine is a household name, but both offer the promise and potential to be a force at 170 pounds. Here's how you can watch the action, as well as predictions for each bout.
|UFC Fight Night 34 - Card, Predictions - Exclusively on UFC Fight Pass|
|Leandro Issa vs. Russell Doane||Bantamweight||Issa by decision|
|Dustim Kimura vs. Jon Delos Reyes||Bantamweight||Kimura by KO|
|Mairbek Taisumov vs. Tae Hyun Bang||Lightweight||Taisumov by submission|
|Royston Wee vs. Dave Galera||Bantamweight||Pick 'em|
|Katsunori Kikuno vs. Quinn Mulhern||Lightweight||Mulhern by submission|
|Max Holloway vs. Will Chope||Featherweight||Chope by submission|
|Kyung Ho Kang vs. Shunichi Shimizu||Bantamweight||Ho Kang by KO|
|Kiichi Kunimoto vs. Luiz Dutra||Welterweight||Dutra by KO|
|Tatsuya Kawajiri vs. Sean Soriano||Featherweight||Soriano by decision|
|Hyun Gyu Lim vs. Tarec Saffiedine||Welterweight||Saffiedine by decision|
Biggest Potential Stars to Emerge from Event
Tarec Saffiedine and Hyun Gyu Lim
Though the event doesn't have any major names involved, there are a few newcomers and young fighters that fans may be hearing more about in the coming months and years.
First and foremost, the two combatants in the main event are both primed for bigger things. Saffiedine is making his UFC debut, but he's already faced known fighters such as Nate Marquardt, Roger Bowling and Tyron Woodley.
He needs to make a statement in his first fight in the UFC.
Saffiedine isn't getting ahead of himself, though he is aware of the opportunity to rise in the rankings. He told Anton Tabuena of The Bloody Elbow:
I want to be the first Belgian to go inside the UFC and win. I want to represent Belgium for the very first time, and that's what's important to me. After the fight, we'll see. Obviously I want to go as far as I can. I want to climb the ranks, but we'll see after this fight. I'm really focused on Lim right now.
His opponent thought he was being pranked when he was told he'd be given the opportunity to face Saffiedine in the main event. He said this to John Morgan of MMA Junkie:
Korean Top Team is full of jokesters, and we always play around with each other. So at first, when they told me that unfortunately Jake Ellenberger got hurt and I was going to be elevated to the main event, I didn’t believe it. I thought they were joking. I didn’t believe it until after my coach told me it was true.
Gyu Lim has been impressive in his two Octagon appearances, and that's likely what earned him this shot. He scored KO wins over Marcelo Guimaraes and Pascal Krauss in 2013. He's now looking to get 2014 started with a bang.
This should be a great fight that makes fans want to see both fighters again, but Saffiedine is such a solid technical striker that Gyu Lim doesn't have the grappling skills to take him down or the quickness to handle him in standup.
Saffiedine wins what could be a strong contender for Fight of the Night.
The kid with the cool MMA last name should still be on your radar as a potential star. He did lose his last fight by technical submission to Mitch Gagnon, but it was the first loss of his career. He's shown a penchant for finishing fights with submission and knockouts.
At just 24 years old, he's only beginning his journey in the UFC. He'll take on a fighter making his UFC debut in Jon Delos Reyes, but he doesn't have the same ceiling or buzz as Kimura.
Delos Reyes hasn't competed in the highest levels of the sport and is an unknown to say the least.
If Kimura has learned from his last loss, he stands a great chance to grab some attention with a big win in Singapore. According to Kimura, he has grown since losing to Gagnon and is even more motivated to succeed.
Speaking to Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com, Kimura said this of the loss to Gagnon:
It really is a learning experience. I learned the most out of this loss than I learned from all my wins, but to tell you the truth, it sucks. I wake up and go to the gym with a chip on my shoulder, looking for redemption, and it lit a fire under me. I never want to get my ass kicked on national TV ever again.
We shall see what has been born from this stumbling block. Bet on Kimura scoring a highlight-reel win via KO.
Fighter with Most to Prove
At one point, Holloway looked like the next good-to-great featherweight. With two straight losses, there are now serious questions as to what his ceiling is.
He'll be facing the Dhalsim-like newcomer to the UFC, Will Chope. Standing at 6'4", Chope has to be the thinnest healthy person I've ever seen. He's a submissions fighter, and Holloway is a potentially dynamic striker.
The contrasting styles could make for a good fight, or as Bleacher Report's Scott Harris said: "Warning: underrated scrap right here."
Whether the fight is exciting or not, Holloway really needs a win. Though he is still just 22 years old, he can't afford to hit a three-fight losing streak. While Chope may go on to great things in the UFC, the fact is that not many people know who he is right now.
A loss for Holloway would send him sinking further down the latter at 145 pounds. Chope is so long, and Holloway has already shown that he can be submitted by long-armed fighters like Dustin Poirier. This just isn't a good matchup for him.
Chope wins it by submission.
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