TUF China Finale: Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
For years, Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway have been on the verge of welterweight title contention.
At UFC Fight Night: Macau on Saturday, the 170-pounders will look to take another step toward that next level. Kim and Hathaway will headline the event, which will also feature The Ultimate Fighter: China finale.
The welterweights have both won three straight fights.
Kim most recently knocked out Erick Silva in the Brazilian's home country. Meanwhile, Hathaway has been out of action since a September 2012 victory over fellow Englishman John Maguire.
Here is a closer look at how Kim and Hathaway match up against each other heading into their bout on Saturday.
Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway have both picked up most of their UFC wins with solid grappling.
However, Kim is coming off his most impressive victory inside the Octagon, and it came via striking. Becoming the first fighter to stop Erick Silva with strikes was a big deal, but Kim's wild left hook that found its mark in that matchup didn't do much to prove he has made significant strides with his stand-up.
Less chaotic on his feet than Silva, Hathaway isn't likely to get caught by a haymaker like the one Kim landed in his most recent outing. While Silva has been hit by 53 percent of strikes thrown at him inside the Octagon, Hathaway has only been touched by 39 percent.
Although he hasn't knocked out any high-level opponents, he did show some power against Pascal Krauss, who was floored by a knee in the first round. The British fighter's ability to land those knees while transitioning from scrambles could be important in a matchup with Kim.
Between his ability to land damaging shots in the clinch and a solid jab, Hathaway should have an advantage over Kim on the off chance this fight stays standing.
Takedowns will almost certainly decide this matchup.
Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway have competed in a combined 19 UFC bouts, scoring takedowns in 16 of those appearances.
While Hathaway's wrestling has looked good inside the Octagon, he hasn't faced the top competition that Kim has. Even against lesser competition, Hathaway has shown more flaws with his takedowns than the Korean.
In a bout with Kris McCray, Hathaway shot in on a single leg. As he looked to run the pipe, the Englishman failed to keep his foe's left leg pinched between his own legs. Also forgetting to keep his left arm tight to his body, he allowed McCray to secure a right underhook before going to the ground.
With his left leg free, McCray kept space between him and Hathaway by placing his left shin on the British fighter's hip. Since he also had an underhook, McCray was able to use Hathaway's momentum against him and wound up on top.
On a single leg from the other side against a more highly ranked opponent, Siyar Bahadurzada, Kim finished flawlessly. Whereas Hathaway was unable to trap his adversary's lifted leg or prevent being underhooked, Kim did both before completing his takedown at UFC on Fuel TV 8.
During his UFC career, Kim has only been outwrestled in a short outing against Demian Maia. Hathaway, on the other hand, was taken down five times in a bout with Mike Pyle at UFC 120 and on three occasions during his matchup with McCray.
A better wrestler than both those fighters, Kim shouldn't have much trouble winning the takedown battle on Saturday.
Despite spending most of his fighting time on the ground, Dong Hyun Kim has only one submission victory. He focuses on positioning, where the Korean is one of the best in the welterweight division.
On his current winning streak, he scored three takedowns against both Paulo Thiago and Siyar Bahadurzada. He needed only one takedown in each round because he so effortlessly moved to dominant positions and controlled them for several consecutive minutes.
A respected jiu-jitsu black belt with a submission win over Mike Swick, Thiago would be widely considered more difficult to deal with on the ground than Kris McCray. Nonetheless, McCray was very competitive with Hathaway on the canvas, reversing the Englishman and threatening with submissions in a bout that ended with a split decision.
While bugging McCray with a forearm to the face, Hathaway allowed his opponent to regain a butterfly guard and a right underhook simultaneously. With his left arm lifted, the Brit had too much weight resting on his right side while losing the underhook battle on his left side.
This allowed McCray to execute a butterfly sweep by elevating Hathaway's left leg and using his right underhook to roll through and take the top position.
While there are always going to be openings to reverse any fighter, Kim closes those holes much better than Hathaway. The Korean keeps a more stable base and takes fewer risks once he secures top position. Having also never been submitted, Kim should be able to rather easily ride out a decision win.
John Hathaway has not stepped into the Octagon in 17 months.
It isn't the first time the Englishman has sat out more than a year, but he returned against Pascal Krauss last time around. Coming back with a fight against Top 15 welterweight Dong Hyun Kim will be a much bigger challenge on Saturday.
Although conditioning hasn't been an issue for Hathaway, rust could cause "The Hitman" to start slowly following such a significant hiatus. It's tough to fight from behind against Kim, one of the best grinders in MMA, so a poor first round could put Hathaway in a hole he won't be able to emerge from.
Without many knockout wins, John Hathaway is likely going to find himself in a wrestling match with Dong Hyun Kim this weekend.
He could shock the Korean with a knee in the clinch, but Hathaway is otherwise going to have a tough time getting much going against Kim. A judo black belt, "Stun Gun" has shown better takedowns against tougher competition and possesses much tighter defensive wrestling than Hathaway.
Expect a standard performance from Kim, who will win the takedown contest and control Hathaway on the ground. With a fourth win in a row, the Korean should earn a shot at a Top 10 170-pounder.
Prediction: Kim defeats Hathaway by decision.