The “Stun Gun,” Dong Hyun Kim, stole the show at The Ultimate Fighter China Finale on Saturday at the CotaiArena in Macao, China.
Kim and John Hathaway both opened ready to end their main event fight early. Hathaway launched some solid knees to the body, but Kim rocked him with a wide right hand that had him staggered. Hathaway recovered and the two fighters traded blows throughout much of the round before Kim dropped Hathaway in the final two minutes of the opening stanza. Kim followed Hathaway down and tried to finish with a flurry, but Hathaway defended well from his back, Kim eventually allowing him to his feet as the round wound down.
Kim immediately pressed forward and landed and elbow, but Hathaway answered strong, storming Kim with punches and a jumping knee. Neither man was playing it safe, both holding their hands low and swing wide. Kim landed a thunderous left hand midway through the second round, but Hathaway shook it off and they kept firing. They clinched late in the round and Kim secured a takedown, working from side control until the horn.
Hathaway opened the third frame with a jumping knee, Kim urging him on. Hathaway steps in and lands a forearm to the face before pressing Kim up again the fence. They separate and move around, but then the “Stun Gun” unleashes a spinning elbow that drops Hathaway to the canvas, out cold.
Having now won four consecutive fights, Kim has poised himself as one of the top contenders in the UFC welterweight division, and he’s got his sights set on the title recently vacated by former champion Georges St-Pierre.
“I don’t care who it is,” said Kim after the fight, “I want to get a shot at the title. I don’t care who my opponent will be.”
In the welterweight final of The Ultimate Fighter China, Wang Sai and Zhang Lipeng each landed some heavy leg kicks early. Lipeng took control midway through the opening stanza, scoring a takedown and taking Sai’s back, bodylock intact. Lipeng applied a deep rear naked choke, but Sai escaped and turned into Lipeng’s guard, scoring with a ground and pound attack before taking Lipeng’s back in the final seconds of the round.
Lipeng went back to the well in round two, trying desperately to secure a takedown, but Sai sprawled and landed several elbows to Lipeng’s head. The action was halted when Sai was warned for a knee to the head of a downed opponent, which was just enough time for Lipeng to reset and finally set up the takedown that he was after, quickly putting Sai on the mat and taking his back. Sai again escaped, reversed position, and worked his ground and pound for the final minute of the frame.
Lipeng immediately shot for another takedown to start the final round, but Sai sprawled and put Lipeng on his back, returning to his ground and pound attack. The referee didn’t see enough action, however, and stood them up. Lipeng shot again, but Sai outmaneuvered him and took Lipeng’s back, peppering him with punches.
Lipeng reversed position midway through the round, but Sai would not allow him the dominant position, escaping and once again moving into Lipeng’s guard for some ground and pound. Sai landed a couple right hands from inside Lipeng’s guard, but was again stood up when the action slowed, although it was too late for either fighter to capitalize on the stand-up with just 10 seconds left in the fight.
It wasn’t a pleasing decision to the fans in attendance who seemed to think Wang Sai had done enough to win, but the judges scored a split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28) in favor of Zhang Lipeng, who became the first The Ultimate Fighter China winner.
The Finale lost one of its feature bouts when the featherweight final between Yang Jianping and Ning Guangyou was postponed due to injury.
As heavyweight often do, Matt Mitrione and Shawn Jordan came out with the same game plan, swing often and swing big. Jordan struck first, momentarily staggering Mitrione with a left hook, and edging ahead, landing more frequently as the opening round wore on.
Mitrione turned the tables late in the round, clinching with Jordan and then unleashing with a flurry of punches. Recognizing that Jordan was hurt, Mitrione wouldn’t stop firing until Jordan crumpled to the canvas, stopping the clock at 4:59 for the knockout victory.
“I didn’t want to force the knockout, I just wanted to let it go,” said Mitrione after the fight, explaining his slow start. “I didn’t really listen to my corner like I should have.”
Ivan Menjivar started quickly, trying to take Hatsu Hioki down, which proved to be a bad strategy as the Japanese fighter took his back and threatened with a choke. He slipped away from the submission, but Hioki put Menjivar on the mat with a trip from the clinch and then ground and pounded him, trying to soften him up for a submission, but couldn’t find a finishing maneuver before the opening round ended.
Neither fighter got a quick start in the second round, but Hioki eventually tripped Menjivar to the mat once again midway through the round and Hioki immediately took his back, transitioned to an armbar, but left it open for Menjivar to slip out and do some ground and pound work of his own. Hioki wasn’t defensive for long, as he slipped out from under Menjivar and put him on his back again, but still unable to secure a finish.
Menjivar and Hioki traded exploratory blows to open the final frame, but Menjivar scored big with an overhand right that staggered Hioki and left blood streaming down his face. With that, Menjivar continued to negate Hioki’s rech advantage, walking him down and landing several punches for the final few minutes, but unable to put him away. Hioki scored with a takedown in the last 20 seconds, but Menjivar countered with a kneebar attempt as time ran out.
It was a strong final frame from Menjivar, but not enough to negate Hioki’s early success, as Hioki took home the unanimous decision victory.
It looked as if Yui Chul Nam would make quick work of Kazuki Tokudome, storming the Japanese fighter and unleashing on him with a blistering onslaught of punches throughout the opening round, but Tokudome, battered and eye swollen, somehow survived the initial salvo.
Tokudome turned the tables in the second round, putting a visibly tiring Nam on the mat, grounding and pounding him for the majority of the round.
Both men knowing they needed the final round to secure victory, came out in the final stanza at a blistering pace, each landing several hard punches. Tokudome, however, put the fight back on the mat. Nam wouldn't stay there this time, eventually turning the tables, putting Tokudome on his back twice in the waining minutes of the fight. They returned to their feet for the final 30 seconds, both men swinging for the fences, and Tokudome landing a double-leg takedown as time ran out.
When the scorecards were tallied, it was Nam that walked away with a split decision victory.
Vaughan Lee made his fight with Nam Phan look almost like a sparring session. He unloaded on Phan throughout with a variety of punch combinations and kicks. He could never quite put Phan away, but earned a lopsided unanimous decision victory, as Lee was never in trouble at any point in the fight.
Anying Wang made quick work of Albert Cheng, landing a small flurry of kicks and punches during an otherwise lackluster opening round. The flurry forced Cheng's eye to swell shut between rounds, the cageside doctor stepping in to call a halt to the fight.
Mark Eddiva dominated the opening bout on the card en route to 30-27 scores from all three judges, upsetting Jumabieke Tuerxun by unanimous decision.
TUF China Finale Results
Dong Hyun Kim def. John Hathaway by KO (Spinning Elbow) at 1:02, R3
Zhang Lipeng def. Wang Sai by Split Dec (29-28, 27-30, 29-28)
Matt Mitrione def. Shawn Jordan by KO (Punches) at 4:59, R1
Hatsu Hioki def. Ivan Menjivar by Unan Dec (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Yui Chul Nam def. Kazuki Tokudome by Split Dec (29-27, 27-28, 28-27)
Vaughan Lee def. Nam Phan by Unan Dec (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Anying Wang def. Albert Cheng by TKO (Dr.'s Stoppage) at 5:00, R1
Mark Eddiva def. Jumabieke Tuerxun by Unan Dec (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)