UFC Fight Night 111 Results: The Real Winners and Losers from Singapore
The UFC traveled to Singapore for Fight Night 111, and while the card dragged on a couple of occasions, fans who set their alarms for Saturday morning were largely treated to an exciting lineup of fights.
For the most part, the bouts were relatively low-stakes affairs. There were prospects looking to climb the rankings and veterans trying to keep their spots, but few title-relevant or do-or-die contests.
The main event was one of the few exceptions to that, and its winner, Holly Holm, scored a massive win over Bethe Correia.
The former champion, despite holding onto some goodwill from her knockout of Ronda Rousey at UFC 193, was in dire need of a win after back-to-back-to-back losses. Her Brazilian foe was precisely the sort of fighter who suited her style, and as such, Holm was set to either post a spectacular highlight-reel stoppage or another disappointment.
For a time, it seemed like she was headed for the latter. While Correia did little to harm Holm, the former champion did little more than feint and sidestep her overmatched foe for two rounds. In the third, however, the pawing paid off as Correia was suckered by a savage headkick.
It's a critical win that, despite her recent struggles, pushes Holm back into title contention at both 135 and 145 pounds.
The biggest loser, however, is Tarec Saffiedine. Another former champion who has fallen on hard times, the Belgian needed to get back in the win column. Alas, he couldn't do so, as Rafael dos Anjos pressured him for a handy decision win. Now coming off three consecutive losses, his future is uncertain.
So who else won the night (or early morning) at UFC Fight Night Singapore, and who took tough losses?
Real Loser: "World F--King Domination"
In 2013, UFC brass stood in front of a screen and succinctly described their strategy for the next year as "World F--king Domination."
The idea was a good one. The UFC brand was strong. Its biggest rivals were either dying, dead or absorbed into the UFC. International promotions were popping up but had yet to grow legs.
The execution, however, has been a comedy of errors, and the greatest example of that was their push into China. Best summarized as "do a reality show and hope for the best," the company did nothing to build long-term staying power in the world's biggest nation. Worse, it used the ill-fated The Ultimate Fighter: China to promote Cung Le, Hailin Ao and Tiequan Zhang and build up eventual winner Zhang Lipeng, all of whom have since left the UFC.
In retrospect, it was a remarkably lazy approach and a damning indictment of the company's ability to identify, promote and retain potentially valuable talent. Worse, those struggles persist to this day with fighters like UFC Fight Night 111's Li Jingliang.
The Chinese grinder picked up his third win in a row against Frank Camacho on Saturday morning with a generally dominant performance, building his UFC record up to 5-2 (and his pro record to 13-4). It wasn't an especially amazing display, but it further cemented his place as a potentially high-level talent in a deep welterweight division.
In an alternate reality, the UFC hitched its wagon to Li back in 2014. It bankrolled his camps, groomed him for years and leveraged his successes to seduce Chinese fans and broadcasters.
In this reality, Li picked up a nothing win on a nothing card, and he will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Real Winner: The World's Faith in Refereeing
Nearly every UFC card has some sort of damning indictment of the state of MMA refereeing. A fight goes too long, resulting in a prolonged beating. An obvious injury is ignored, resulting in unnecessary damage. A foul is perpetrated repeatedly, rarely prompting a warning and almost never drawing an actual punishment.
Every once in a while, though, a referee will do an impeccable job. UFC Fight Night 111 saw that happen in the featherweight fight between Alex Caceres and Rolando Dy.
For two rounds, Caceres dominated his debuting opponent. Dy had no answer to anything he did, absorbing punches and getting outscrambled at every turn. Worse, a glancing punch to the eyebrow forced one of his eyes shut at the end of the first round, lowering his chances of victory from unlikely to nonexistent.
Between the second and third round, the doctor was called into the cage to check on that eye, performing the usual checkup. Dy stated that all was well, and the doctor's conclusion fell well short of calling for an end to the fight.
Traditionally, this would result in a shrug and "fight on" from the referee. Neil Swailes, however, erred on the side of caution and ended the fight with Dy on the stool. While both competitors expressed dissatisfaction over the call, it was a rare and welcome act of caution from an official that helps re-establish some trust in sanctioning bodies.
Real Loser: Old Legends
Takanori Gomi should be MMA royalty. The top lightweight in Japan for years, he has stepped into the cage with the likes of Jens Pulver, BJ Penn, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Hayato Sakurai and Nick Diaz, taking victories more often than not. His record-setting six-second knockout of Ralph Gracie and lengthy title reign in the beloved Pride FC are on-paper achievements that should demand respect from UFC brass and reverence from fans.
But there he is. Fighting on a humble UFC Fight Night card in Singapore. On the preliminary card. Catching an ugly first-round loss from a no-namer like Jon Tuck.
This is a normal practice from the UFC, unfortunately. As soon as an older fighter starts to slow down, they are given the Old Yeller treatment, tasking young up-and-comers with putting them out of their misery.
The promotion has, unfortunately, tricked fans into believing this has to be the way—that as soon as a knockout comes or a few losses stack up consecutively, the only option is a ceremonial execution.
Tito Ortiz's run in Bellator, however, showed that some legends can be rehabilitated. Here's hoping that, if Gomi decides to lace up his gloves again, the Fireball Kid can get that feel-good sequel outside the UFC.
Real Loser: Strikeforce's Final Champion
Tarec Saffiedine and Rafael dos Anjos are both depressing "what if" stories.
Saffiedine entered the UFC as the Strikeforce welterweight champion, which could have easily translated to a title shot with a win or two. Alas, a series of injuries saw him fight just twice in a three-year span, pushing him out of sight and out of mind in the always-shifting welterweight division.
Dos Anjos, meanwhile, was set for the payday of a lifetime at UFC 196. Lined up to face Conor McGregor as lightweight champion, he could have taken home a strong seven-figure check with any kind of performance. Instead, an injury forced RDA out of, and Nate Diaz into, the card's main event, spurring MMA's most compelling rivalry and leaving the Brazilian as an afterthought in his own division.
As if that wasn't tragic enough, both men entered UFC Fight Night 111 coming off back-to-back losses, guaranteeing that one of them would suffer almost irreparable damage to their career.
The fight wasn't an especially grueling one, but it saw both men absorb a fair bit of punishment. Saffiedine worked his lead hand, clipping Dos Anjos repeatedly and getting some solid work in on the ground. Dos Anjos, however, controlled the place and pace of the fight throughout, utilizing his strong cage-cutting skills to keep the Belgian in a disadvantageous position for the majority of the fight.
That pressure translated to a workmanlike decision win for the former lightweight champion, leaving Saffiedine in a career no-man's land.
Now on a three-fight losing streak, it is unknown what the future holds for Saffiedine. There is no new division he can comfortably jump to, and no especially interesting fights lined up for him.
At 30 years old, he has some time to get built back up. Unfortunately, with this many losses on his recent record, it will take years for him to work his way back into the top 10, and never mind title contention.
Real Loser: Dong Hyun Kim's Career Trajectory
The UFC doesn't seem to like Dong Hyun Kim, for whatever reason. Despite being the most popular fighter in South Korea and a staple of the welterweight top 10, Stun Gun has been given few opportunities to push his way into the title picture. He's also been routinely put into high-risk, low-reward fights with little-known up-and-comers.
At UFC Fight Night 111, that stock opponent was Colby Covington. The American had no notable wins, no particularly impressive stoppages and no place on the UFC rankings. He did, however, have a strong 6-1 UFC record and NCAA Division I All-American status.
In a sport with smart matchmaking and competent managers, that would have been cause for a relatively big name like Kim to steer clear of a fighter like Covington. Alas, this is MMA, a sport where fighters take these do-nothing fights routinely and, worse, a sport where the better fighters lose these do-nothing fights in boring fashion.
For 15 minutes, Covington pressed Kim against the fence and kept him there. He didn't do much damage, he didn't land any particularly impressive strikes, and he didn't even attempt a submission. But Kim couldn't escape from the pressure, resulting in a unanimous-decision loss.
That's bad for the Korean.
While he has never been in the thick of title contention, Kim has consistently beaten less-than-elite competition, with his only clean losses coming from Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley.
Unless Covington pans out to be a top-level welterweight, this is a damning fight for a competitor the UFC clearly doesn't want to get behind. Granted, crazier things have happened than a potential Kim comeback tour, but for a fighter who rarely gets anything more than midcard bouts against random prospects, look for his next (and every subsequent) fight to take place on overseas Fight Night events against another Covington-esque talent.
Real Loser: Andrei Arlovski's Career Trajectory
For a few minutes, it looked like Marcin Tybura was going to score a huge knockout victory over former champion Andrei Arlovski. Then for one minute, it looked like Arlovski was set for a feel-good comeback win. Then for 10 minutes, nobody looked good.
That was the UFC Singapore heavyweight co-main event in a nutshell, a fight that drew a mix of groans and tears among fans and ultimately served as little more than an indictment of what either fighter is physically capable of.
Tybura, for a brief time, looked like the killer he was on the European circuit, scoring an early takedown and bouncing Arlovski's head off the canvas with ground-and-pound. Arlovski, similarly, showed he still had the powerful strikes that made him one of the most successful, enduring fighters in the heavyweight division.
All of that was contained to the first round, however. The second was a battery recharge for both men, with Arlovski pinning Tybura to the cage for the full five minutes to ensure decent output for the third. But while Tybura got some energy back during the dull middle frame, Arlovski continued trending downward.
Tybura scored a big takedown in the early stages of the final frame, and Arlovski couldn't muster up anything to contest the position. Without much trouble, and without threatening a finish, Tybura won the round, and the fight, in decisive yet unimpressive fashion.
It's a less-than-ideal outcome for both men. Tybura, who was labeled by the commentators as the next generation of heavyweight talent, looked no more spry than his aging constituents, while Arlovski now finds himself on a brutal five-fight losing streak.
That said, Tybura has time to rehabilitate himself both skill- and reputation-wise. Arlovski, at 38 years old and 41 fights deep into his career, does not.
Real Winner: Holly Holm
Holly Holm needed a win at UFC Fight Night 111. She needed it really, really badly.
Since scoring her famous knockout victory over Ronda Rousey in 2015, the Preacher's Daughter was 0-3. Her losses weren't especially ugly, with all three fights being reasonably competitive affairs opposite solid competition. Unfortunately, that label of "one-hit wonder" was starting to stick.
Bethe Correia was a tailor-made opponent for Holm. Despite being one of Rousey's most memorable opponents, the Brazilian had no serious skills in any area of the cage and had no above-average physical tools. If Holm couldn't beat her soundly, it would have cast serious doubt about whether she has enough fight left in her to keep contending in the UFC.
But now? There is no question. Holm remains the same woman who headkicked her way to the UFC title.
After two slow rounds full of inactivity, Holm let loose a picturesque question-mark kick that landed clean across Correia's jaw. The strike knocked 99 percent of the consciousness out of her, leaving her just enough to sit up with her hand outstretched.
The ref knew the fight was over and moved in to protect Correia. Holm, however, arrived first and landed a hard punch that stole that remaining one percent.
Despite being relatively boring for a length of time, this was the kind of performance that Holm needed, putting her right back into the thick of title contention in both the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. While she is still 1-3 in her last four fights, don't be surprised to see her challenging for UFC gold by year's end.