Posted 01/06/2014 by Mike Fagan in Untethered MMA

UFC Fight Night 34 Review

I woke up at 5 a.m. That’s an ungodly time to wake up, let alone on a Saturday, let alone to watch a C-level UFC show from Singapore. But I woke up, ate two packs of Mrs. Freshley’s Cupcakes with a glass of milk, and kept reserves – a big boy can of Red Bull and a bag of Fritos – close by. (They went unneeded.) Then I fired up and Twitter.

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My stream worked without issue. I know others had issues: involuntary logouts, screens asking for money, that sort of thing. Isolated problems. Expected problems. Excusable problems.

Yet, Fight Pass needs work. A lot of work. I clicked the link for the event at 5:15 and saw a countdown telling me the event would start in 2 hours, 40 minutes. Twitter pointed me to the correct link to the prelims.

You might wonder why I would need a separate link to the prelims. I might wonder the same thing. When the prelims ended 15 minutes before the top of the hour, Fight Pass forced everyone to open a new tab for the main card. I suppose this has something to do with various international TV deals. It’s annoying.

The main card player had options for corner audio, a four-pane mode, and some other bells and whistles. None of which were available for use. Which, you know, is fine. I’m not sure I needed to hear Hyun Gyu Lim’s corner, but it’s a reminder that UFC Fight Pass is in a sort of quasi-open beta stage.

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Brian Stann provided color commentator beside Jon Anik. It’s become MMA media chic to polish Stann’s red, white, and blue balls, but the man is arguably the UFC’s best TV personality. He’s measured, he’s articulate, and he does his homework.

It’s not that other UFC personalities don’t have those qualities. Anik shares them, though as the play-by-play man he defers to his partner too often. Florian can talk, but he’s prone to yelling. Rogan is entering Bas Rutten territory, gliding by on past success, not keeping up with all levels of the promotion, repeating the same tired cliches. Goldberg is Goldberg.

In the third fight of the night, Tae Hyun Bang met Mairbek Taisumov. Bang was a lamb for Taisumov. He entered the bout with a 16-7 pro MMA record and two wins in his last five fights. He had fought once since 2010, a victory in June over someone called Joo Dong Hwang in something called Top FC. Yet, Stann was telling me all sorts of things about Bang. Things I’ve forgotten because it was 6:30 in the morning and Tae Hyun Bang’s fighting details aren’t necessary information for my brain to store.

But imagine if Bang made his debut on the prelims of a bigger show. Goldberg and Rogan would talk about how this was a big opportunity. They would wonder how he would handle his first fight inside the Octagon. Maybe we’d hear something about his career path. It would all be generic, surface information, the kind of stuff you can find on Google, provided you have ten seconds and half a brain.

Fighters in the lighter weight classes and the bottom of cards often blend together. Hell, it’s 2013 and I still can’t differentiate between Jeremy Stephens and Spencer Fisher. Like pop songs, you need to create hooks for fighters. Some fighters do this on their own in the cage: Mirko Cro Cop knocks out dudes with head kicks. Ronda Rousey armbars people. Jon Jones throws people around and beats up all the elite light heavyweights. Some fighters have a look: Chuck Liddell’s mohawk and tats and shorts. Quinton Jackson’s chains and howl. Fedor Emelianenko’s eery stoicism. Some fighters promote themselves with their mouths: Chael Sonnen. Tito Ortiz. Ken Shamrock. Nick Diaz in a roundabout way.

Most fighters need help. People love(d) Pride because they gave you a reason to care about the fighters. By taking something from a fighter’s style or personality and exaggerated it. It’s pro wrestling 101. It’s sketch comedy and sitcom 101. It’s comic book 101. Stann’s work creates hooks by weaving unique, relevant information about each fighter into the broadcast. It’s not all going to stick – Tae Hyun Bang isn’t long for the UFC – but it’s a step in the right direction.

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Stann did have his moments. Most notably, math failed him during the Kyung Ho Kang-Shunichi Shimizu fight.

Kang landed a couple 12-to-6 elbows on Shimiz. Referee Steve Perceval halted the action and penalized Kang for the foul. Great. Not great: he took a point away for each of the two 12-to-6 elbows Kang landed. Kang wound up winning the round and still found himself down on the scorecards 8-9.

Stann wrongly believed Kang could not win the fight on points without earning a dominant round. Yet, Kang’s 8 points plus two 10s in rounds two and three equal 8, which is still greater than Shimizu’s three 9s, or 27. Twitter helped Stann out after the bout’s conclusion, and the man owned up to his mistake. Kang made the whole thing moot, finishing Shimizu with an arm triangle in round three.

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Four fights had reach disparities over six inches. Kyung Ho Kang (72”) had six inches on Shunichi Shimizu (66”), Will Chope (76”) had six inches on Max Holloway (70”), Lim Hyun Gyu (79”) had nine inches on Tarec Saffiedine (70”), and Quinn Mulhern (76”) had nine-and-a-half inches on Katsunori Kikuno (66.5”). Only one fighter with the advantage – Kang – left Singapore victorious.

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Final notes:

1) Tarec Saffiedine caught some slack for not finishing Hyun Gyu Lim. Whatever. Saffiedine’s leg kick attack rendered Lim’s lead leg nearly useless. That neither the referee nor Lim’s corner stopped the bout is no fault of Saffiedine’s. And Lim’s corner really should have stepped in after round four. Their fighter was, at best, down 3-1 on the cards, and Lim was showing difficulty putting weight on his leg. That he almost wound up finishing Saffiedine at the end of the fight doesn’t make a bad decision any better.

2) Tatsuya Kawajiri showed he still has something left in the tank, finishing 8-0 Sean Soriano with a rear naked choke a minute into the second round. Kawajiri, who opened as a -210 favorite, closed as a pick ‘em, with some sites listing Soriano as a slight favorite.

Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter.  

Mike Fagan