UFC Singapore: Demented, Delirious Coverage
At 4:30 AM local time, MMA entered a new epoch as the UFC Fight Pass officially launched. Of the approximately three dozen Fight Nights, this was the first to lack television distribution in the North American market, relying instead on the digital subscription service for dispersal. The new service, still in its trial phase and missing several sorely desired features (such as multiple camera angles and corner-specific audio), served as the launching pad for our beloved sport’s ascendance from terrestrial distribution to digital nirvana.
And I missed it because I passed out. Kudos to Mike Fagan for doing his Fightmetric duties.
Oh, who am I kidding. I can’t keep this kind of flowing language up for a thousand words. Suffice to say I was lucky my biological clock picked up where my phone failed and woke me up in time to catch the 7 AM main card (which, mercifully, included the most impactful bout from the prelims). In an attempt to beat the curve, prove my worth to you folks and allow myself enough consciousness to brave the snow and grab some donuts before passing out once again, I give you my barely fueled and malformed thoughts about UFC Singapore.
- This event succeeded in spite of the referees, one of whom tried very hard to cost a fighter a win he deserved. Kyung Ho Kang, in the first bout, flat-out dwarfed Shunichi Shimizu and, in the course of landing strikes on the ground, threw two blatant 12-6 elbows. Both this foul and the one I’ll discuss later were crystal clear – those concerned about the ambiguity in the letter and spirit of these rules should avoiding citing either instance as evidence for their case. In this case, however, the enforcement of the rule was clearly mishandled as Steve Percivel immediately deducted Kang not one, but two points for the infraction. Later in the round, Shimizu claimed a groin shot that Percivel, in a violation of referee protocol that I’m actually OK with, later told Shimizu he was making up. If a first-time foul that doesn’t end the fight is worth two points but lying about a foul isn’t worth one, then I’d lie my ass off about low front kicks in order to catch a breather. The UFC doesn’t have an athletic commission to blame here; it’s on them to both motivate and pay for better refs to accompany them overseas. That’s a terrible place to save money or curry local favor.
- Brian Stann handled his fuzzy math regarding Kang’s prospects of winning a decision (hint: a two point deficit is not insurmountable over a three round fight) with class on Twitter. The fact that this is his most memorable flub to date speaks volumes to his prowess in the booth. More UFC cards means more work for Anik and Stann, which is nothing but good news.
- While Luis Dutra may have been attempting to emulate Travis Browne while elbowing Kiichi Kunimoto, his placement was squarely within whatever “back of the head” rubric tickles your fancy, be it the mohawk or the headphones. I said that Kunimoto would likely end his career in the UFC with that DQ victory, but looking back, I wasn’t in the stellar state of mind that I am in now – Dutra is probably the more likely victim. ZombieProphet’s link to his gif of Dutra, titled “guy crying cuz he broke the rules,” says it all. Again: no matter how you feel about the back of the head rule, there’s no way in Hell what Dutra did was or should be legal. Browne’s elbows work because he throws them when his opponent’s head is at his hip; his 6’7″ frame gives his torso enough length to allow the elbow to travel in a non-linear fashion to the side of the head. Dutra, a shorter athlete, tried to do it to a head that was practically in his armpit.
- Even for a noob puke like me, I got butterflies when I saw Tatsuya Kawajiri typed out in a UFC graphic. While many expert observers thought that Sean Soriano (an injury replacement for Hacran Dias) would burst onto the scene in impressive fashion, Crusher’s relentless wrestling pressure eventually found a seam and, displaying excellent ground control, Kawajiri secured a rear naked choke early in the second round. Soriano will remain, and so will Kawajiri, but chalk one up for nostalgia; it’s 2014 and Tatsuya Kawajiri just won his UFC debut.
- If you watch nothing else of this event – and I vow to watch the undercard somehow – watch Kawajiri’s post-fight interview. If you don’t fall in love, stop reading my articles (but not MMA Owl).
- In another long-awaited UFC debut (although quite a bit sorter in the awaiting department), former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine made his mark as main event material by decisioning the gigantic Hyun Gyu Lim. I’m not exaggerating, either – Tarec is by no means a small 170, but Lim looked like a giant opposite him. The bout was supposed to feature Jake Ellenberger welcoming Saffiedine to the UFC, but Lim, owner of a highlight reel KO of Pascal Krauss and (until tonight/today/tomorrow/whenever it is in Singapore) an undefeated record, provided a more than ample counterweight. Tarec’s infamous leg kicks (ask Nate Marquardt’s hematomas) once again reigned supreme, threatening Lim’s mobility and ability to continue in the 3rd and 4th rounds, but the bout ultimately culminated in one of the most batshit crazy final 15 seconds in MMA history, as Lim nearly Boetsch-Kongo’ed his way to victory just before the horn. It is the residual adrenaline from that moment that will power me to Dunkin’ Donuts.
- All in all, this was great. Despite my aforementioned noob puke nature, I have fond memories of staying up all night/waking early for DREAM cards and NYE events in Japan; they’re memories, things out of the ordinary that you get to look back on as time passes. 15 fighters made their UFC debuts today; I’d wager that hasn’t happened in at least a decade, outside of perhaps a TUF Finale. The Fight Pass ran flawlessly, likely due in part to the preemptive removal of features to ensure a steady stream (that and the lack of relative bandwidth competition in the wee hours of Saturday morning). I don’t think there will be a great deal of objections to this event; that’s about the best possible Fight Pass launch I can imagine.