This was the UFC’s first visit to China, albeit not mainland China but the island of Macau. Eh, close enough for Zuffa to be able to say they’ve done a show in China! As you’d expect the card was full of more Asian-based talent complete with Cung Le in the main event.

UFC on Fuel TV: Franklin vs. Le

11/10/12

Macau, China

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Kenny Florian. Must note that I was super-busy when this show happened and only skim-watched it so a lot of this is totally new for me, which is REALLY odd.

Bantamweight Fight: Takeya Mizugaki vs Jeff Hougland

On paper this seemed to be a gimme for Mizugaki, who is basically a gatekeeper to the elite at 135lbs while Hougland hadn’t exactly looked great in his previous fight against Yves Jabouin. Interesting to note that the last time Mizugaki had fought in the Far East he’d been totally dicked by the judges in a fight with Chris Cariaso.

Round One and they circle before Mizugaki counters a leg kick with a nice one-two. Hougland grabs a clinch and looks to land some knees but Mizugaki quickly breaks off. Good left hand lands for Mizugaki. Hougland answers with a solid right hook of his own. Takedown attempt from Hougland misses by a mile and Mizugaki begins to land some nice punches. Takedown attempt again from Hougland, but Mizugaki stuffs it and stays vertical using a whizzer. Trip from Mizugaki puts him on top in Hougland’s guard. Crowd are absolutely SILENT. Armbar attempt from Hougland but Mizugaki beaks free and lands some nice shots from the top. Mizugaki begins to create some space to rain down some heavy right hands, but Hougland doesn’t look to be in serious trouble just yet. Moments later though the Japanese fighter really opens up with some powerful shots, causing Hougland to attempt a scramble to no avail as Mizugaki retains top position and continues to bomb on him. Hougland looks for an arm triangle from the bottom, but Mizugaki’s having none of that and he breaks free to land more ground-and-pound. Round ends with Mizugaki continuing to dish out the punishment. 10-9 Mizugaki.

Round Two and Mizugaki almost lands the GSP superman punch into a leg kick combo. Left hook connects for Mizugaki to the body and he easily avoids a takedown attempt from Hougland. They clinch up and Mizugaki lands a nice overhand elbow as Hougland drops for a single leg. Mizugaki stuffs it again and then uses a body lock to drag Hougland to the ground in half-guard. Hougland quickly gets to full guard, but he begins to eat elbows again. More ground-and-pound follows and then Hougland scramble which allows Mizugaki to get his back for a moment without the hooks, before Hougland rolls onto his back in guard again. More shots land for Mizugaki before the ref calls a stand-up. Beautiful left hook stuns Hougland and forces him to shoot, but he ends up on his back and Mizugaki continues to land from the top. Hougland uses full guard to keep him under control though and the round ends with the Japanese fighter on top. Another 10-9 for Mizugaki.

Round Three and they circle and exchange a couple of kicks before a BIG LEFT HAND from Mizugaki drops Hougland face-first! He pops back up and somehow gets a slam, but Mizugaki pops up from that and gets a takedown of his own into Hougland’s full guard. Best sequence of the fight right there. Action slows a little and Mizugaki decides to let Hougland get back to his feet. They exchange punches and then Mizugaki gets a bodylock and takes him down again. Why let him up then? This time he’s inside half-guard as Hougland looks to tie him up. Hougland works back to full guard and I guess both men must be tired as the action slows enough for the ref to call another restart. Takedown attempt from Hougland but Mizugaki stuffs it and gets on top again in guard. This fight is really getting dull now. Couple of seemingly illegal upkicks land for Hougland but the ref ignores them and they don’t seem to have much effect. Maybe the camera angle confused me, who knows. Seconds to go and Mizugaki remains on top landing some short elbows that bust Hougland open. Lot of blood’s coming from the left eye it looks like. Round ends with Mizugaki on top and 30-27 Mizugaki has to be the only possible score.

Judges have it 30-25, 30-27 and 30-27 for Takeya Mizugaki. Didn’t think he’d done enough for 10-8 rounds there but eh, I guess Hougland did very little to justify 10-9’s. Totally one-sided fight and while it was perfectly acceptable MMA for the most part it did get dull in the third round.

Lightweight Fight: Jon Tuck vs Tiequan Zhang

This was another attempt by Zuffa to push Zhang as a big deal as of course he was their only Chinese fighter at this point despite not really being UFC-level. He was making the move back up to 155lbs here to face off with Guam’s Tuck, who had made an unsuccessful attempt at getting into the TUF house for Season 15, where he was beaten by eventual finalist Al Iaquinta in a fight that saw him receive a Jon Jones-esque broken toe. Pretty solid record of 6-0 with all finishes though.

First round and they circle and exchange some glancing punches early on. Nice jumping knee lands for Tuck and Zhang goes for the takedown and gets it, throwing Tuck down into side mount. Good job from Tuck as he immediately spins into full guard. Armbar attempt from Tuck and it looks locked in. Tuck goes belly down and then they roll right through with the hold still locked up, but Zhang wraps his legs around the head and arm of Tuck and manages to survive. He does find himself on the bottom of north/south though, as Tuck easily escapes an inverted triangle. From there he takes the back with both hooks and Zhang looks in trouble. He can’t get a choke so he switches to full mount, but a hip escape from Zhang regains half-guard. Tuck passes again into side mount and then into full mount before taking the back again. Couple of punches from Tuck but he doesn’t seem close to securing the choke. Action slows down now as Tuck stays clamped onto Zhang’s back, but eventually the Wolf manages to escape to his feet on the buzzer. Good round. 10-9 Tuck.

Second round and Tuck lands a glancing head kick in the opening seconds. Zhang looks stiff on his feet as he’s throwing heavy shots but missing them for the most part. No sooner have I said that than he lands a left hand and that triggers a brawl to a big pop before Tuck decides to back up. Good right hand lands for Tuck and he follows with a jumping knee, but Zhang catches it and gets a takedown to guard. Tuck looks for an armbar again, and this time as Zhang avoids, Tuck gets a reversal into top position. Half-guard now for Zhang. Looks like Tuck might be setting up for a possible arm triangle choke, but instead he decides on a kimura. Zhang slips his arm free, but that only allows Tuck to step over into full mount with just over two minutes to go. He kneels on the arm for a second in the schoolyard petrol pump move, but then switches to a triangle attempt from the mount and when that doesn’t work he easily takes the back. Tuck is just owning the ground game here. Crowd begin to boo as the round comes to an end, and it’s clearly another one in the books for Jon Tuck, 10-9 again.

Third round and Zhang pushes forward, winging wild punches again, but he can’t seem to land flush on Tuck and Tuck outright laughs at him after taking a couple of shots. Good right hand connects on the counter for Tuck as Zhang’s style of winging stiff power punches just isn’t working. Action has really slowed down here. Left hand lands for Zhang and the announcers are saying Tuck’s hurt but I don’t see it as he swings back and lands with a glancing jumping knee. Jabs land for both men and then a left from Zhang really does have Tuck backpedalling a little now. Striking exchange continues and it’s pretty even at this point. Zhang seems to be struggling with his mouthpiece for some reason. Good combination from Zhang and he’s backing Tuck up now. He’s also running out of time though as there’s less than a minute to go. Stiff jab from Tuck backs Zhang up a little but he misses a flying knee. Round ends with Zhang grabbing a rear waistlock off a missed spin kick and Tuck rolling for a kneebar. 10-9 Zhang but 29-28 for Tuck overall.

Judges scorecards read 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28 for Jon Tuck. Crowd obviously aren’t enamoured with that but it was obviously the right call. Tuck did a good job but if we’re frank Zhang just isn’t quite up to the UFC level and it’s probably time to end that experiment and look for another Chinese fighter to push. Decent enough fight, though.

Lightweight Fight: Takanori Gomi vs Mac Danzig

This was an interesting one to me – mainly because they’d matched Gomi up with a guy I thought he’d be able to beat, which meant he potentially would move onto his first winning streak in the UFC! Danzig for his part hadn’t fought since a gritty decision over Efrain Escudero in April. The styles seemed to favour Gomi’s harder-hitting striking, but it’s Gomi in 2012 so anything was possible really.

We get underway and they circle and exchange some glancing shots before Gomi lands with a hard low kick. Danzig tries a kick that Gomi catches and counters with a right hand. Another good low kick from Gomi. Couple of nice combinations from Gomi connect too. Overhand left lands for the Japanese star. Danzig clinches to land some knees, but Gomi manages to break off without taking a ton of damage. Nice takedown from Gomi and he lands in the full guard of Danzig. Little happens from there until Danzig scrambles back up to his feet. Right hand connects hard for Gomi and wobbles Danzig slightly but he seems okay. More leg kicks land for Gomi as Danzig pushes forward. Never seen Gomi land so many leg kicks before I don’t think. Good counter left from Danzig. Seconds left on the clock and Danzig hits a single leg into butterfly guard, where he lands some hammer fists before Gomi attempts a heel hook right before the round ends. 10-9 Gomi in a tight round.

Into the 2nd and Gomi opens with the sharper strikes, landing with a counter left hook nicely. Takedown attempt from Danzig but Gomi stuffs it and they exchange from close quarters before breaking off. Snapping left hand connects for Gomi. Body shot from Gomi sets up a clinch, but Danzig shrugs it off. Leg kick into a right from Gomi and he’s really working with the left hand now. Takedown attempt from Danzig is blocked but he does land with a knee on his way out. Hard left hook connects for Danzig as Gomi drops his hands for a moment. Couple of big swings glance for Gomi. Combo answers for Danzig and he hits a takedown to half-guard. Looks like he’s going for a possible arm triangle but Gomi manages to avoid it. One minute to go and Gomi reverses to his feet, but Danzig grabs a guillotine and drops to guard before sweeping into top position. Gomi seems okay despite being caught in the choke, and he manages to last the round out. 10-9 Danzig.

Third and final round and Gomi lands a trio of right hands that drop Danzig early on! Gomi follows him down into the guard, but he can’t finish and Danzig manages to hold on and look to get to his feet. Gomi keeps him down though despite not doing much with ground-and-pound. Leglock attempt from Danzig but Gomi counters with a footlock attempt of his own, and ends up twisting round to land some hard punches that force Danzig to release and go back to guard. Into half-guard now for Gomi but Danzig gets full guard back and reverses to his feet. Takedown attempt from Gomi but Danzig sprawls out and looks to take the back. Gomi manages to avoid that though and scrambles up to his feet in the clinch. They break off and both men land some decent strikes, but when Danzig lands a hard right hand Gomi tells him to bring it on, popping the crowd. Takedown attempt from Danzig but Gomi stuffs it and forces him into the fence. They break off with seconds to go and again both men throw some hard punches, and the fight ends on the feet. Close one but I’ve got it 29-28 for Gomi.

Aaaand it’s a split decision, 29-28 for Danzig, 29-28 for Gomi and 29-28 to give Takanori Gomi his second UFC win on the bounce. That fight was a lot of fun if not a FOTYC or anything like that, as Gomi clearly came in in better shape than his previous UFC outings and was able to keep a high pace and not let his grappling let him down. Tyson Griffin knockout notwithstanding that was probably his best UFC showing in fact. Back to the drawing board for Danzig then but I don’t think he looked bad or anything.

Welterweight Fight: Dong Hyun Kim vs Paulo Thiago

Grappler vs. grappler match here then, with Kim looking to bounce back from his unfortunate rib injury that he sustained in his fight with Demian Maia and Thiago also looking to get back to his winning ways after being knocked completely unconscious by Siyar Bahadurzada last time out. Really with his wrestling advantage it was hard to pick against the Stun Gun in this one.

Round One and Kim shoots on a single leg right away. Thiago looks to block it and hops around, but Kim gets him down before the Brazilian manages to pop right up. Nice trip though and Thiago’s on his back in half-guard. Full mount follows and he takes the back with both hooks as Thiago looks to scramble. Action slows down as Kim doesn’t really do much from the position, allowing Thiago to get rid of one of the hooks. Kim remains in control though and the crowd begin to boo the lack of action. Body triangle from Kim now and he lands some punches to the side of the head. Rear naked choke attempt follows, but Thiago blocks it. Round ends in the same position with Kim in firm control, as he looks for a neck crank variant ala Demian Maia. 10-9 Kim; close to a 10-8 if he’d done more damage or come closer to a finish.

Round Two and Kim pushes forward, but takes a glancing head kick from the Brazilian. Into the clinch and Thiago looks like he’s going for the takedown, but Kim seems too strong and he trips Thiago down for a second before getting him in a single leg. Kimura attempt counters for Thiago and he rolls into it, but Kim shows a lot of strength to avoid it and ends up on top with Thiago in the turtle position still holding onto the arm. Kim drops some knees and punches and finally Thiago lets go of the arm. Action really slows down as Kim just controls him with little going on. This is a dull fight. Thiago finally gets to his feet, but Kim gets his back and drags him down. Thiago reverses though and he comes up to his feet holding a rear waistlock. It doesn’t last long though as Kim trips him back down and takes top position. D’Arce choke attempt from Kim and it looks pretty much locked in, but the round ends before he can finish it off. 10-9 Kim and this is looking like a shutout.

Round Three and Kim blocks a high kick early on. He pushes forward and misses a wild spinning backfist. Front kick glances for Kim. Thiago begins to back him up a bit with some strikes, but hasn’t landed anything significant yet. Single leg attempt from Kim and he transitions to a rear waistlock as Thiago attempts to stuff it. Kim drags him down and gets both hooks in while Thiago stays standing, and he quickly forces him down to the ground properly. Short punches to the face soften the Brazilian up, but he manages to stand again with Kim clamped to his back. Action slows up again as Thiago is purely in defensive mode now. Finally Kim brings him down with some punches and stays in back control, looking to get a body triangle locked in, but Thiago manages to avoid it. He can’t escape the position, though, and Kim begins to really open up with punches and elbows, looking to finish the fight. One minute to go and you could make an argument for stopping this as Thiago isn’t really doing much. He manages to grasp one of Kim’s arms though to slow him down, but Kim continues to use the other to beat on the Brazilian. Less than thirty seconds to go and Kim channels Sakuraba to deliver some DOUBLE PUNCHES!~! from the back mount and then the mount when Thiago rolls. Looks like Thiago is just about done, but the round ends there. 10-8 Kim and 30-26 overall in my book.

Official scorecards are 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 for Dong Hyun Kim. Not the most entertaining fight until late in the third when Thiago gassed a bit, as Kim completely owned him on the ground from start to finish and never let up, but Thiago was good enough to keep himself in the fight and so Kim never really came close to finishing, which made it a frustrating one to watch. Great showing from Kim, however, who might be the most underrated fighter in the UFC right now.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Thiago Silva vs Stanislav Nedkov

Hard to believe it but Silva was looking for his first legit win since his knockout of Keith Jardine in 2009 (!) here, as his previous win over Brandon Vera had been overturned due to a positive drug test and he’d lost to Alexander Gustafsson in April. Opponent Nedkov had impressed in his UFC debut against Luiz Cane in August 2011, but hadn’t fought since then due to injuries. Due to his size advantage – Nedkov’s a more natural 185lber – I was picking Silva in this one.

Entrances it must be said are cool here. Nedkov walks out to Gangnam Style, unfortunately without the dance, while Silva’s entrance is probably the most intimidating I’ve ever seen in MMA as he comes out to the Prodigy’s Breathe looking like a serial killer.

Round One gets started and Nedkov opens with a flurry that backs Silva up, allowing the Bulgarian to clinch and force him into the fence. Couple of shots land from the clinch for Silva, but Nedkov barely answers outside of a couple of knees. Knee attempt from Silva but he slips and goes down, and that allows Nedkov to open up on him with another flurry. Thiago looks to fire right back, but Nedkov quickly clinches to put an end to that. Silva breaks off and covers up to avoid another flurry, and Nedkov’s punching style looks incredibly stiff if powerful. Good chopping leg kick from Silva and he covers up again to avoid a flurry. Single leg attempt from Nedkov but he seems to be struggling to get Silva off his feet. They end up clinched against the fence again where the action slows once more. Both men land some short knees before Silva breaks with a sharp knee from the plum clinch. Combo glances for Nedkov and he follows by clinching once more. Little action from there as Silva looks to work the plum again and manages to break with a knee. Flurry from Nedkov allows him to close the distance again and this time he avoids the plum and forces Silva into the cage. Pair of slaps to the ear end the round for Silva. Well, Nedkov’s tactics stunk but he still takes the round on my scorecard, 10-9.

Round Two and Silva begins with another chopping leg kick. A second one goes awry though and catches Nedkov low, forcing referee Steve Perceval to call time to let the Bulgarian recover. They restart after a few moments and Nedkov backs Silva up a little again before forcing the clinch once more. Good body punch from Silva and then he goes back to some short punches to the head as Nedkov holds him in place. Ref calls a clean break due to inactivity and Nedkov repeats the tactic of wildly flurrying to set up a clinch. This really is a crap tactic from him in terms of entertainment value. Crowd begin to outright boo as Nedkov can’t get Silva down and so he just holds him there. Finally Thiago manages to break with a knee with about two minutes to go. Body kick into a right hand land for Silva, but he has to cover up to avoid a counter from Nedkov. Good one-two from Silva but he goes straight back and it allows Nedkov to clinch. One minute to go and they break, and Nedkov’s looking a bit tired. Kick lands to the body for Thiago and he follows with a leg kick. Seconds to go and Silva lands the leg kick again, but Nedkov fires back with a HUGE RIGHT HOOK and drops the Brazilian! Silva looks in deep trouble as Nedkov pounces and looks to put him away, but Thiago manages to tie him up just enough to survive the round. Wow. Hot ending to a poor round. 10-9 Nedkov.

Round Three and Nedkov comes out flurrying again, but Silva does look recovered now and doesn’t seem fazed. Good right hand connects for him. Nedkov is looking tired here. Good knee into a right hand from Silva. He’s beginning to land more now and Nedkov looks wobbled. Head kick from Thiago sets up a takedown and he gets it. Super-fast pass to mount follows and Silva opens up with some elbows. Big shots land for Thiago and he locks up an arm triangle choke and passes into side mount to force the tapout. Nice.

Well, the last like, three minutes of the fight if you count the last bit of the second and then the third up to the finish were pretty awesome, but the rest thoroughly stunk thanks to Nedkov’s wall-and-stall tactics. Big win for Silva at the time as he really needed it and was able to overcome a serious storm in the second round, but unfortunately he tested positive for weed post-fight and the win was overturned. Still a win in my eyes as I don’t buy weed as a PED but whatever.

Middleweight Fight: Cung Le vs Rich Franklin

This to me was the ideal main event for one of these Fuel cards – two guys who are pretty big stars but aren’t really needed to sell a PPV in the near future, so they can afford to be on a card like this that pulls a smaller viewership. As far as a pick went despite his first UFC win over Patrick Cote, I couldn’t pick the ageing Le in good conscience so I figured Franklin would outclass him and TKO him late on.

Fight begins and they circle with both men throwing some feints. Right hook glances for Franklin. Right misses for Le and Franklin glances on a body kick. Nice jab from Franklin. Right hook almost connects for Cung. Leg kick lands for Franklin and he avoids a wheel kick from Le. Right hand is blocked by Le. Left hand into a leg kick lands nicely for Rich. Good combination follows. Leg kick is almost countered by Le but Rich avoids. Right hand glances for Franklin. Leg kick follows but this time Le DOES connect on a counter and KNOCKS FRANKLIN DEAD. Good lord.

Absolutely scary KO. I’m talking terrifying, Chuck Liddell-Rashad Evans type stuff with Rich going down and twisting on the way and looking DEAD when he hit the deck. Great moment for Cung Le and it’s probably extended his UFC career by at least another two fights which is sort-of good as he does make for fun fights even if he’s limited, but for Franklin I think it’s really telling and probably ought to signal the end for him, especially when you consider that with a different referee his fight against Wanderlei in June would’ve ended with him being TKOd too. Never nice to see a dude get knocked out like that when it’s someone in their late thirties who’s already taken a lot of punishment. Total highlight reel stuff though it must be admitted. Fight almost saved the show in fact.

-Show ends with Cung Le celebrating, and quite rightfully so!

Final Thoughts….

Pretty poor show in the end here to be honest – while nothing was actively terrible like some of the fights on say, UFC 149, everything was largely dull and one-sided and the one fight that wasn’t (Gomi-Danzig) wasn’t amazing or anything like that. Silva-Nedkov had a nice finish but it was a poor fight overall due to Nedkov’s tactics, and even Le’s knockout was more disturbing to watch than outright entertaining. Recommendation to avoid.

Best Fight: Gomi vs. Danzig

Worst Fight: Mizugaki vs. Hougland

Overall Rating: *1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

NewmanMMA@gmail.com