Take a close look at the early contests from the UFC’s second trip to New Zealand, featuring a contest between brawler Dong Hyun Kim and kickboxer Thibault Gouti.
Is it just me, or has the UFC given up on trying to sell Fight Pass to anyone besides the hardcore MMA community? There are plenty of fans out there who haven’t seen Aldrich fight and even more who haven’t even heard of Jeon. And yet, this is the featured contest on Fight Pass? No disrespect meant to either fighter. I’m sure they have both worked very hard to prepare for this fight and there are reasons to suspect it could be a fun contest, but the UFC isn’t even trying to make Fight Pass an attraction anymore. At least Dong Hyun Kim — the other one — and Thibault Gouti should be fun.
The Fight Pass portion begins at 7:00 PM ET/4:00 PM PT on Saturday.
JJ Aldrich (4-2) vs. Chan-Mi Jeon (5-0), Women’s Strawweight
This is a very difficult contest to get a grip on. I have been unable to find any footage on Jeon in order to do a proper analysis on the 19-year old, but I have been able to find a few facts that would be useful in analyzing how she might appear come fight night. While she is undefeated, she hasn’t faced much in terms of quality competition with a 44-year old Megumi Yabushit — who happens to own a losing record — being her most significant victory. Even worse, she has never fought at 115. Will she be able to make the cut effectively? That’s a big question that we won’t know until fight night.
Aldrich’s lack of fights on her resume is a bit deceiving as she has an extensive amateur background. Almost solely a kickboxer — no surprise given her Tae Kwon Do background — Aldrich puts together good combinations with limited power from a southpaw stance. What cost her in her UFC debut against Juliana Lima was her lack of takedown defense. Given the lack of wrestling in the Asian countries, I’d imagine Aldrich won’t be as tentative as I’m not expecting Jeon to be much of a threat to take her to the ground.
I admit most of what I’m running off of is assumptions, but what else am I supposed to do? I can’t find any footage. Jeon has plenty of potential according to reports that I’ve read, but I don’t want to say anything in those regards until I’ve actually seen her. I have no faith in my pick, but I’ll take Aldrich as I know what she brings to the table and has had a full camp to prepare after Jeon replaced Nadia Kassem on very short notice for someone who has never fought at her assigned weight class. Aldrich via decision
Dong Hyun Kim (14-8-3) vs. Thibault Gouti (11-3), Lightweight
When looking at this contest strictly on paper, it’s hard to get excited about it. Kim and Gouti own a combined 1-5 record in the UFC, Kim owning the lone victory. Upon closer inspection, it has some serious potential to be a major barnburner.
Kim has become well-known as a brawler following his epic slugfest with Polo Reyes last summer. Kim may have fallen short in that contest, but he also showed a lot of heart and durability in the contest. Unfortunately for him, it also exposed his lack of defense as he continually waded into the pocket time and again without regard for his own health. In his last appearance, a victory over Brendan O’Reilly, he used a wrestling-heavy approach, grounding the Aussie at least once every round. It may not have been exciting, but it did pick him up a much needed victory.
Gouti is only getting another chance as his last opponent, Chad Laprise, missed weight and Gouti only agreed to take the contest if he got another fight in the event of a loss. This has to be the last chance the French striker will get to pick up a win. He does have a good technical kickboxing game, though the power in his strikes only appears sporadically. Even worse, he doesn’t have much of a wrestling or grappling game to fall back upon should his striking not prove to be enough.
Kim is probably the obvious pick for most observers, but he shouldn’t be. Gouti, for the lack of depth in his game, does possess enough takedown defense that Kim taking him to the ground could pose a problem should he look to do that. It’s a closer contest than many would think. Still, for all that I am hyping up Gouti, I favor the Korean as he has more routes to victory than Gouti. Kim via TKO of RD3