'TUF China' Finale: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter
To watch the UFC Saturday, it required you to fire up the coffee maker, set your alarm clock and make sure you had a subscription to Fight Pass. If you did all of those things, you saw some good things and some not so good things.
The main event saw Dong Hyun Kim of South Korea take on John Hathaway of England. In a fun little scrap, Kim put his hat in the ring for Knockout of the Year with a spinning back elbow finish that had Hathaway dreaming he was back in the UK.
We crowned a new TUF China winner, saw the heavyweights clash and saw a Japanese star get back in the win column.
Here are the grades for all of the fighters on the main card.
Hatsu Hioki vs. Ivan Menjivar
As stated on the telecast, at one point, Hatsu Hioki was considered a guy that would challenge for the UFC title. After a half dozen fights, that remains to be seen, but the Japanese grappler got it done in China against Ivan Menjivar.
Hioki used his trademark clinch and grappling to overwhelm Menjivar. He had him in bad positions on several occasions and was close to tapping Menjivar with a rear-naked choke at one point.
He let up a bit down the stretch, but nonetheless, it was a good performance for the Japanese star.
Give it up to Ivan Menjivar. He was outgrappled for a majority of the fight and was down coming into the third round, but he never gave up looking for the finish.
Despite getting outgrappled by Hioki, Menjivar came out in the third round throwing hand missiles. He clipped Hioki early in the third and opened him up with some strikes.
With seconds remaining, he latched onto a deep leg lock that could have been finished if not for the final bell. A decent performance but nothing to write home about.
Matt Mitrione vs. Shawn Jordan
Matt Mitrione needed a win in the biggest way, and he got it. In fact, he was like Michael Jordan over Craig Ehlo in the NBA playoffs; he beat the buzzer to take home the big win.
Mitrione's athleticism and quickness is uncanny for a heavyweight. The way he moves is crazy, which is hard for most heavyweights to simulate coming into the bout.
His hands are also fast, as seen in the flurry that finished Shawn Jordan. He knew Jordan was hurt, picked his shots and got the finish before the buzzer could cut him off.
It's not that Shawn Jordan had a bad outing. In fact, he was getting his shots in before getting knocked out.
What happened was Jordan really never got enough going to warrant anything incredibly notable.
Jordan needed to force the clinch with Mitrione, who was the superior boxer and quicker fighter. When he broke off the cage with Mitrione, he didn't keep his hands up, and he got caught.
There is still some potential for Jordan, but he really needs a win now.
Wang Sai vs. Lipeng Zhang
Wang Sai and Lipeng Zhang
I might be acting a little to rough here, but hear me out. Everything about this fight was frustrating and just showed how China is light years behind when it comes to MMA right now.
First off, Lipeng Zhang won a fight that he clearly should have lost 29-28. Not only were people on Twitter questioning the decision, but the fans in China at the fight drowned out anything celebratory in the cage with their loud boos.
Secondly, these two guys aren't even on the level of a Bellator preliminary card bout. Both guys gave up positions to easily, had subpar technique at best and just generally looked overmatched, even against each other.
I won't give either of them an F, but they certainly don't deserve much more than that.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway
Dong Hyun Kim
When did Dong Hyun Kim become a striker? Seriously, two fights ago, nobody ever thought that Kim would get a finish on the feet with the UFC.
Then came the Erick Silva fight. We could have chalked that up to a fluke.
Now, Kim is knocking out a tough guy like John Hathaway with a spinning back elbow? I am now finally super impressed with Kim.
I would have given Kim just an A here, but the fact he held off on follow up strikes knowing Hathaway was out earned that extra plus.
To be honest, I thought Hathaway looked pretty good in the fight minus the finish, which was more perfect than anything.
Hathaway up to that point showed a good chin, resilience and was handing out punishment of his own. For a guy on an extended layoff like he had, he looked like he hadn't been missing in action that long.
However, a loss is a loss, and in the way he was knocked out, I can't give him anything higher than what I will give him now.