Dong Hyun Kim capped off an exciting night of fights in Macao with a shocking third round spinning back elbow knockout to put away John Hathaway in the main event at UFC Fight Night while The Ultimate Fighter crowned its first ever champion from China.
For the second fight in a row, Kim showed off a new confidence in his striking game with an attack that constantly blitzed Hathaway, putting the British fighter on the defensive. Kim dominated the first round nearly landing a finish early, but Hathaway toughed it out and lived to fight on for another few minutes.
Kim slowed a bit in the second round, but he saw an opening in the third that allowed him to spin his hips and connect with a nasty spinning back elbow that cracked Hathaway in the jaw. The point of Kim’s elbow connected perfectly and Hathaway crashed to the mat, knocked out from the blow, and the fight was stopped immediately.
The end came at 1:02 in the third round, giving Kim another knockout and a shot at cracking the top ten in the welterweight division.
Following the fight, Kim wasn’t ready to call out any opponents in the UFC’s welterweight division, but he certainly sounded confident by going as far as saying that he could handle a fight with top ranked contender Johny Hendricks if given the opportunity.
"I don’t really care who the opponent’s going to be," Kim said. "When it comes to wrestling and grappling, I think I’m one of the best and I have no problems going against Johny Hendricks. When it comes to matching up in wrestling, I don’t think anyone would be able to take me down and if it’s striking, whoever gets knocked out will get knocked out, I will make sure that when I hit somebody, I’ll knock somebody out."
TUF China crowns champion amidst controversy
A near finish in the TUF China finale
For the first time ever, the UFC crowned a Ultimate Fighter champion from China as Zhang Lipeng defeated Wang Sai by split decision, but it didn’t come without a fair share of criticism following a somewhat controversial call from the judges.
Lipeng came out strong in the first round putting Sai on the mat, nearly locking up a rear naked choke, but he was unable to finish the submission and the fight continued. Sai battled back in rounds two and three with a few takedowns of his own and going on the attack as Lipeng’s cardio started to fade.
While the fight was close, it appeared Sai had done enough in the final 10 minutes to get the win, but the judges saw it going the other direction with Lipeng being handed the six-figure contract with the UFC as the new Ultimate Fighter champion from China.
Sai, who trains under former Ultimate Fighter season one competitor Mike Swick, will still mostly likely get another shot in the Octagon following the close, controversial decision according to UFC officials speaking after the show.
Matt Mitrione back on track with knockout
Matt Mitrione grits his teeth for another KO win
At 35 years of age, it might sound odd to hear Matt Mitrione still described as a prospect, but as the heavyweight competitor continues to evolve he continues to show flashes of a fighter that could still be a contender one day.
Mitrione was fast and elusive in his fight against Shawn Jordan, using quick feet to stay out of the range of the powerfully strong former LSU football player. In the few moments of the fight where Jordan was able to rush into Mitrione, he could never put any real power behind his punches to do damage.
On the flipside, Mitrione wasted no time once he got Jordan trapped against the cage because he timed a perfectly placed punch that rattled his opponent, leaving him wobbled and looking for an escape. Mitrione didn’t give him a moment to breathe as he opened up with a barrage of strikes and just seconds after Jordan’s mouthpiece went flying from his jaw, a final left hook sealed the deal to put him down on the mat.
Referee Dan Miragliotta rushed in to stop the carnage as the final horn sounded, which gave Mitrione the finish at 4:59 in the first round.
Hatsu Hioki survives late scare to get a win
Featherweight fighter Hatsu Hioki has complained in the past about fighting in America due to long travel and time differences coming from Japan. He didn’t have to deal with the same level of severity fighting in China and taking on Ivan Menjivar to kick off the main card on Saturday.
Hioki looked as good as he has yet in the UFC with a dominant submission attack that constantly put pressure on Menjivar, who barely survived a few close attempts.
The third round almost saw a complete reversal of fortune, however, because Menjivar knowing he was down on the scorecards came out gunning for Hioki and he almost got the job done. Menjivar blasted Hioki with a shot early in the round that bloodied the Japanese fighter over his right eye, sending blood streaming down his face.
To his credit, Hioki did just enough to avoid Menjivar’s attacks for the rest of the fight and as the final horn sounded, he knew he got the win. All the judges saw the fight the same way — 29-28 for Hatsu Hioki.
Fight of the night worth a replay
Nam and Tokudome put on an amazing fight of the night
The fight of the night in China was an early preliminary bout that saw debuting fighter Yui Chul Nam defeat Kazuki Tokudome.
Nam somehow managed to land a whopping four knockdowns in the first round, but still couldn’t put Tokudome away as he did everything possible to survive the onslaught of heavy punches coming from the Korean fighter. The second round was almost the exact opposite as Tokudome got an early takedown and trapped Nam against the cage, punching him repeatedly as he looked to take his back and get a finish.
Miraculously, Nam also got out of the round and came back with another strong performance in the third while both fighters lunged at each other with the last bit of energy in their bodies. The final call saw Nam win by split decision in what turned out to be one of the most surprising and exciting fights on the entire card.