UFN 79: Henderson vs Masvidal- Prelim Predictions
185lbs- Dongi Yang (12-3-0) vs Jake Collier (9-2-0)
In the preliminary headliner, the returning Dongi ‘The Ox’ Yang meets American Jake Collier in the Middleweight division. Collier comes into this fight on the heels of his 1st UFC victory, defeating Ricardo Abreau by split decision after suffering a knockout in his promotional debut. After a 1-3 run in his initial UFC stint, Yang was released but has rallied with a pair of wins including a stoppage of veteran Dennis Hallman.
Collier is 4″ taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 4 years. Yang has fought just twice since his 2012 release, taking a 2-year hiatus between his 2 most recent bouts.
A member of Korean Top Team, Yang is a 3rd degree Judo Black belt and has a 2nd degree Black belt in Taekwondo. He demonstrated his strong kicking technique in his first post-UFC fight, battering his opponent with a variety of kicking attacks. Against Collier, look for him to utilize his kicks to help deal with the distance. Yang will attack the legs, but one of his key weapons will be a front kick to his opponent’s midsection that will both do damage and keep his foe from closing the distance. When Collier does come forward Yang will try to counter with his right hand while moving backward. One of the bigger concerns for ‘The Ox’ is his tendency to sit back and not engage his opponent for prolonged periods of time. Conversely, he is at his aggressive best when his adversary attacks and then Yang will look to re-engage. He has 11 wins by knockout, but is a dismal 0-3 on the scorecards.
Dongi didn’t utilize his Judo that effectively in his 1st UFC run; winning the takedown battle in just 1 fight, while getting taken down 5 times over the 4 contests.
Collier started his UFC run strong, dominating Vitor Miranda, but ultimately got knocked out in the final seconds of the first round. He showed marked improvement in his next outing, which was primarily contested on the feet. He does come from a wrestling background and scored a pair of takedowns against Miranda while threatening with a tight sub attempt. In his second appearance, he implemented a nicely varied offensive front. Building the majority of his offense off a strong left jab, Collier will then deploy a heavy right hand, hard leg kicks, and a stiff front kick. He will get a little creative at times, tossing out a spinning back fist to finish a combination. He utilizes his length well, getting good extension on his strikes while stepping into magnify their impact.
Collier stuffed 4 of 7 of Abreau’s attempts to take him down. The Brazilian found his most success when he was able to disguise his TDAs with strikes before changing levels.
Yang is fighting at home and is making his 5th UFC appearances, but he has fought just twice since early 2012. In that same span, Collier has competed 6 times. Jake made noticeable improvements between and his first and second UFC showings, most visibly in his striking. His length advantage, varied attack, and more consistent output should give him the edge on the feet. The Korean has power, but will struggle to get in range against Collier. If Yang begins to find success on the feet, Jake will most likely replicate the game plans of Brade Tavares and Court McGee who took Dongi down a combined 4 times. Picking against a fighter fighting at home is a risky proposition, but short of Yang scoring the knockout he will be out gunned in this fight- my prediction is Jake Collier to defeat Dongi Yang by decision.
145lbs- Yui Chul Nam (18-5-1) vs Mike De La Torre (13-5-0 1NC)
155lbs- Tae Hyun Bang (17-9-0) vs Leo Kuntz (17-2-1)
In the Lightweight division, ‘The Supernatural’ Tae Hyun Bang squares off with ATT trained Leo ‘The Lion’ Kuntz. Bang has gone 1-2 in the UFC, defeating Kajan Johnson via knockout at UFC 174 in his lone win, but was most recently submitted by Jon Tuck. Kuntz debuted at UFC 187 and was tapped out by Islam Makhachev, ending his 15 fight unbeaten streak.
Kuntz is 1″ taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage and a 2″ leg reach advantage as well.
Bang, as his name signifies, has serious knockout power. Winning 9 times by knockout, including his aforementioned triumph over Johnson, he can turn a fight around with one big shot. He deploys his power via wide-ranging hooks, devoid of setup strikes. Look for him to try and counter Kuntz as he did Johnson. Bang will wait on his opponent to fire off a kick and then launch a crushing counter left or right. In his attempts to set up his counters, ‘The Supernatural’ will try time his foe and figure out his tendencies. This can often lead to prolonged periods of inactivity, where his opponent is able to outwork him. Bang is known as a bit of a slow starter, averaging just 2.33 SLpM. His 8-6 record in decisions could be a product of his below average work rate.
A concerning 0-3 in fights ended by submission, Bang’s defensive wrestling has faltered so far in the UFC with 9 takedowns given up over his first 2 fights. His primary defensive grappling technique is to grab his opponent’s neck and threaten with a guillotine or attempt to sweep.
Kuntz enters the cage with a much more diversified record, winning 7 times by knockout, 5 by submission and 4 on the scorecards. His only 2 losses both came via RNC. Despite earning finishes in 12 of 16 fights, he has just a trio 1st round stoppages compared to 7 in the 3rd round and beyond. He didn’t get to showcase a lot of his striking in his debut, landing just 11 total strikes. He did snap off a couple of crisps inside leg kicks and clipped Makhachev with a hard counter right hand. His right hand appears to be his weapon of choice and in his pre-UFC outings he was much more active with his strikes, landing punches in bunches. One of the biggest concerns displayed in his debut was his lack of head movement. His opponent was routinely able to land big shots as Leo failed to move his head off the centre line when both attacking and defending.
Prior to entering the UFC, Kuntz’s last 4 victories came over opponents with a combined 53-62 record. He made his UFC debut following a 17-month layoff.
Bang will have home field advantage and his fight ending power is a constant threat. Against Kajan, he was hurting Johnson but was getting outworked between big shots and then losing the grappling exchanges. It was a similar scenario against Maribek Taisumov in his debut, minus the fight-altering power strikes from Bang. Kuntz doesn’t appear to have a dominant skill-set, but his chin is pretty sturdy and he is aggressive. Additionally, he knows how to finish on the mat. The ease at which Bang’s opponents have been able to take him down and out-maneuver him on the ground is concerning and takes his power out of the equation. If he can’t knockout Kuntz or consistently hurt him in each round, Bang is going to get outworked on the feet and out-grappled on the mat for the duration of this fight- my prediction is Leo Kuntz to defeat Tae Hyun Bang by decision.
115lbs- Seohee Ham (15-6-0) vs Cortney Casey (4-2-0)
In the Women’s Strawweight division, ‘Hamderlei Silva’ Seohee Ham goes toe to toe with Cortney ‘Cast Iron’ Casey. Ham made an unsuccessful, but competitive debut against Joanne Calderwood, ending her 6 fight winning streak. Coincidentally, Casey is also coming off a loss to Calderwood, also by decision, which ended her 3 fight winning streak.
Casey is the considerably larger woman, standing a full 5″ taller than Ham along with a 5″ reach advantage. Ham hasn’t fought since December 2014, a 11 month layoff.
Ham comes from a kickboxing background and is a confident striker, but lacks fight finishng power. On her career, she has 13 wins by decison, 2 via submission, and has yet to record a victory by knockout. Despite her lack of stopping power, she still did some significant damage to the face of Calderwood, continually landing stiff left jab throughout the fight. She willfully stands in the pocket and throws hard combinations. At range, Ham will utilize a series of snappy low kicks and change levels with a hard jab to the body. Her attacks are set up with good footwork and a lot of lateral movement. She is a capable ground fighter as well, with an aggressive transition game. Her wrestling and takedowns are still a work in progress.
Where Seohee had issues with Calderwood was in the clinch, where JoJo was able to use her size and strength to overpower her and take away Ham’s speed advantage.
‘Cast Iron’ came out cracking in her debut and hurt Calderwood in the opening moments of the fight. All 4 of her wins have come inside the opening round- 2 by knockout and 2 by submission. She throws a big overhand right that can do damage, but she does come a little wide with it and as a result it is a counterable strike. Her success against JoJo had a lot to do with both her willingness to push forward aggressively and that Calderwood was standing right in front of her. After the initial exchanges, Casey elected to attempt a flying armbar that turned into her simply pulling guard. With the exception of a few hard shots off her back, she didn’t appear to have a strong offensive guard.
Casey’s debut came on very short notice and it appeared to catch up with her in the latter have of the fight. It is also worth noting that she is now 0-2 in fights that go beyond the opening round.
This should be a very fun scrap, especially if it is contested on the feet. Casey appears to have the power edge, but technical skill, diversity, and speed all favour Ham. Ham is incredibly tough and durable, but if Casey can catch her coming in she could hurt and potentially finish her. That being said, look for Seohee’s lateral movement to difuse the aggression of Casey and force her to chase her down while doing a lot of swinging and missing. As the fight moves into the second half the experiene of Ham will beging to show against an opponent with few fights and no wins after the opening frame. Ham picks her spots early and begins to outwork Casey as she slows down- my prediction is Seohee Ham to defeat Cortney Casey by decision.
125lbs- Yao Zhikui (2-3-0) vs Fredy Serrano (2-0-0)
In the Flyweight division, TUF Latin American contestant Fredy Serrano takes on TUF China competitor Zhikui ‘The Conqueror’ Yao. Serrano was dumped in the opening round of his TUF tournament, but defeated Bentley Syler via knockout in his official UFC debut. Zhikui made it to the semi-finals of his tournament before bowing out- he is 1-1 inside the Octagon.
Zhikui is 2″ taller, but Serrano will have a 1″ reach advantage. Yao is 12 years younger then his Colombian counterpart. Yao competed as a Featherweight on the show and Serrano fought at 135 pounds.
Serrano, an Olympic competitor and Pan Am Bronze Medalist in Freestyle wrestling, is 2-0 with a brutal KO in his first UFC showing. Despite his wrestling pedigree, he has had limited success with his takedowns in both his TUF appearence and against Syler. When he was able to time his opponent and really drive forward he did find success with his shot, but his completions were far and few between. On the feet, he throws hard, but primarily in single strikes. A big right hand and hard counter uppercut are his weapons of choice. He also found success attacking Syler with low kicks. Periodically, Fredy will attempt some flashy but far less effective spinning attacks.
Fredy needs to find a comfortable balance between his striking output and a pace that he can maintain without slowing down. An increased inclusion of his wrestling would open up more opportunities to let his hands go.
‘The Conqueror’ also comes from a wrestling background, but nothing close to Serrano’s level. Yao’s focus in this fight should be on remaining vertical, as opposed to trying to take his foe down. He struggled with the grappling of Royston Wee, but stuff all 5 of Nolan Ticman’s TDAs. When striking, he is incredibly aggressive, slinging heavy leather at every opportunity. His willingness to push forward could create openings for Serrano to counter with his wrestling. At the same time, if Zhikui can maintain constant pressure and land big flurries of punches it will weigh heavy with the judges in comparison to his opponent’s lack of volume.
Zhikui has recently made the move to train with the Blackzillians which should produce marked improvements in his overall game.
Both men are built like tanks and hit very hard. Serrano has the wrestling skills to dominate, but has struggled to fluidly integrate his skills into his attack with consistency. If he doesn’t shoot on Yao or does and can’t take him down, this fight will be decided on the feet. The volume and aggression of Zhikui gives him the edge striking and while Serrano is capable of hitting that massive fight changing punch, Zhikui should be able to outwork and even hurt him with a flurry. The speed of Yao could also play a factor and as the fight progresses and Fredy slows down it will show up even more. Yao pushes forward, lands big combos, and shows improved TDD- my prediction is Yao Zhikui to defeat Fredy Serrano by TKO.
135lbs- Ning Guangyou (6-2-1) vs Marco Beltran (6-4-0)
In the Bantamweight division, TUF China Featherweight winner Ning ‘Smasher’ Guangyou battles TUF Latin America competitor Marco ‘Psycho’ Beltran. Beltran ended a 3 fight skid with a triumphant UFC debut, decisioning Marco Beltran. Guangyou is 2-0 inside the UFC, stopping Royston Wee in his first fight after capturing the TUF crown.
Beltran is 4″ taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage. He is also 5 years younger.
Beltran’s debut was a close fight, despite getting the nod from all the judges. He has finishes in 5 of his 6 wins- 2 knockouts and 3 submission, 4 of 5 in the opening round. ‘Psycho’ comes from a boxing base and does a decent job of utilizing his reach getting good extension on his punches. He augments his hands with a solid kicking arsenal, attacking up and down his opposition’s body. He is 3-2 in fights ending by submission and show an opportunistic, but flawed grappling game. Vera had success on the mat, attacking off his back with various submission attempts. Beltran was able to survive the early subs and then counter into superior positions. On the flip side, it is a little concerning to see a fighter on the defensive so often on the mat- a more seasoned finisher would be able to capitalize with so many opportunities.
Beltran appears to take issue with getting hit. Against Vera, he was a little passive in the early going but got fired up and attacked after getting tagged for the first time.
Guangyou comes from a Greco-Roman wrestling background and landed 4 takedowns over 5 rounds of action in his 2 UFC bouts. As a pro, he has finished his foe in 4 of his 5 wins- 3 by knockout and 1 by submission. While competing at 145 pounds on the show, he scored a pair of 2nd round KOs in the quarter and semi-finals before winning the first decision of his career to capture the TUF title. He landed a beautiful lateral drop in the finals and has shown solid top control once on he mat. While he can finish from top position, his left hand is his most dangerous weapon when striking. Look for him to launch a leaping left hook and then follow with a barrage of heavy hooks as his opponent steps back. Hard low and body kicks are also a part of his arsenal. The biggest concern with Ning is his overall lack of volume. There were prolonged periods of inactivity in the TUF final and after an aggressive start versus Wee, he appeared to be slowing late in the 2nd round before scoring the finish.
Ning’s 1st career loss came to fellow UFC Bantamweight Kung Ho Kang via submission back in 2009.
Beltran is younger and bigger than his opponent, but he has been on the shelf for over a year since making his debut. That layoff can lead to some ring rust, but it could also lead to a leap in skill for a young fighter that is very early in his MMA career. His issues with Vera’s aggressive grappling could show up against a strong top position player in Guangyou. The difference will be that Beltran will struggle to turn the ground exchanges in his favour against such a stout wrestler. On the feet, the power of Ning will carry significantly and keep Marco backing up. Beltran’s best route to victory is to be the busier fighter and use his reach to keep his foe on the outside, that won’t be easy. ‘Smasher’ comes forward, mixes in his takedowns, and eventually finds a home for his big left hand- my prediction is Guangyou Ning to defeat Marco Beltran by TKO.
170lbs- Dominique Steele (13-6-0) vs Dong Hyun Kim (13-6-0)
In the opening fight of the prelims, Dominique ‘Non-Stop-Action-Packed’ Steele takes on late injury replacement and UFC debutant (don’t call me Stun Gun) ‘The Maestro’ Dong Hyun Kim in the Welterweight division. Steele succumbed to the punching power of Zak Cummings in his UFC debut which he took on short notice. Kim has won back to back fights and 7 of his last 8 outings.
Kim is a natural Lightweight, but will stand 1″ taller then Steele. Kim is taking this bout on just over 1 week’s notice.
Training out of the same camp as the UFC vet of the same name and UFC Bantamweight Kung Ho Kang, Kim’s recent record is far more impressive than his overall mark. After a slow start to his career, he has finsihed his opposition in each of his last 10 victories. With 6 wins by knockout and 5 by submission, 8 in the opening inning, Kim is an offense first fighter. At range, he will employ a kicking attack, but he appears unwilling to really commit on his outside strikes. He does his best work in close, unloading single note power punches. Getting even closer, his clinch game is strong; authoring a chapter of hard elbows and knees in or opting to look for a bodylock takedown. In one of his more recent bouts, he showed an aggressive grappling game. He dominanted his opponent on the mat, working primarily from back mount and peppering away with stiff punches in transsition while looking for sub oppurtunities.
As a natural Lightweight, Kim should have a noticeable speed advantage over an opponent not known for being the most fleet of foot.
A veteran of both Strikeforce and Bellator, Steele has finished 6 opponents splitting his wins evenly between submissions and knockouts. He has a quartet of 1st round finishes, all early in his career, and is 7-2 on the scorecards. He is brawler, with a straight forward approach to striking. Employing minimal footwork, Steele looks to plod forward behind his punches and walk his opponent down. A major red flag for a fighter that prefers this style is the 4 losses by knockout. After getting stopped in his pro debut, his 3 most recent defeats have all been by (T)KO and all in the first round. Cummings scrambled him with a quick right hand and proceeded to unload with a fight stopping barrage as Steele stood stunned along the cage. Takedowns are an option, but the majority of his completions are the product of physical strength over technique. Defensively, he has had issue staying on his feet against grappling oriented fighters.
Steele was originally pegged to face violent knockout artist Hyun Gyu Lim, in a fight that had the makings of a showcase for the local fighter in front of his home fans.
A week to prep for this fight is not a lot of time, but at the very least Kim has been recently active fighting just 3 months ago. He is also moving up a division so the weight cut shouldn’t be an issue. By moving to Welterweight, he will be on the wrong end of the strength equation. Conversely, he will be the quicker fighter and Steele is slow by Welterweight standards. DHK2 should be able to exploit Steele’s chin with a flush connection. Dom’s willingness to plod forward and exchange will provide the Korean striker ample time to unload in the pocket. Additionally, Kim should find success when he looks to put Steele on the mat. Steele’s best avenue for success is to use his size and try to consistently out-muscle his opponent and exploit any potential cardio issues created by the short camp. Unfortunately, Steele’s rickety chin, below average counter wrestling, and lack of speed will make this tough- my prediction is Dong Hyun Kim to defeat Dominique Steele by TKO.