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Diggin’ Deep on UFC Singapore: Holm vs. Correia – Main card preview

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Get the down low on the main card of UFC Singapore, featuring former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine welcoming former UFC champion Rafael dos Anjos to the welterweight division.

I have either woken up early or stayed up late on many occasions to watch UFC cards and never have any of those cards had a main card as good as this one. The first fight features a former UFC champion facing a former Strikeforce champion. The second fight features two welterweights whose combined UFC record is 19-4. We’ve come a long way since Kyung Ho Kang and Shunichi Shimizu kicked off the main card of the first UFC card exclusively on Fight Pass.

The main card begins at 8:00 AM ET/5:00 AM PT on Saturday.

Dong Hyun Kim (22-3-1) vs. Colby Covington (11-1), Welterweight

There is more riding on this contest than there would appear to be on the surface. Kim has won three in a row and seven of his last eight, an impressive stretch. However, most of those victories have come against less than stellar competition given Kim’s status as a perennial top ten welterweight. He needs this win if he hopes to get a crack against the elite, likely his last opportunity to do so at the age of 35. On the other side, Covington is 6-1 in his UFC run. However, his competition has been even more underwhelming than what Kim has faced. Then again, Covington should just be entering the prime of his career.

Kim reminds many of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One moment he’s looking to execute a safe, grind-it-out approach that puts fans to sleep. The next, he’s recklessly attempting spinning back elbows and wild haymakers. The undisciplined approach has worked as often as it hasn’t, but it also gives opponents something else that they needed to think about. When he’s fighting in a controlled environment, his judoka background and large frame make him a beast to deal with in close quarters. It’s rare when he is unable to get an opponent to the ground within a round and few have shown the ability to take him down.

However, there are signs that his typically stout takedown defense has been slipping. Tarec Saffiedine – who you’ll learn more about just a bit later — hardly known for his takedown ability, took Kim down multiple times in the opening round of their contest in December. Considering Covington has become one of the premier takedown specialists in the UFC, that isn’t good news for Kim. Covington pushes a pace very few have been able to match without seeming to break a sweat.

Covington’s striking has come a long way from his UFC debut, though there is still some clunk to it. Then again, he often uses it to set up his takedown entries. When Covington is feeling confident, he’ll throw high-risk strikes such as spinning back kicks. It’s reasonable to expect more power to come as Covington continues to develop his striking as he isn’t considered a KO threat…for now.

This is a textbook case of the young lion challenging the old lion. Kim has been in the organization for nine years and has been considered a top ten welterweight for the majority of that time. He still has some good fights in him, but Covington is primed to burst onto the scene. Sure, he doesn’t have a signature win, but this is also his first opportunity to pick one up. Unless Kim can catch him with a kill shot out of nowhere, I don’t see him being able to keep up with Covington’s insane pace, as Kim has been known to tire late in contests. Covington via decision

Tarec Saffiedine (16-6) vs. Rafael dos Anjos (25-9), Welterweight

Placing dos Anjos on Fight Pass just goes to show how much being a former champion means in this day and age in the UFC. Less than a year removed from his reign over the lightweight division, Dos Anjos has decided he doesn’t want to cut to 155 anymore. Making his promotional debut at 170, Dos Anjos is being welcomed by another former Strikeforce champion in Saffiedine.

While Dos Anjos was very strong at lightweight, often bullying his opponents, he isn’t very long. Will his strength transfer over? Will he struggle with the length of the opponents in his new weight class? That can’t be answered until Dos Anjos steps into the cage. Fortunately for him, Saffiedine isn’t one of the bigger members of the division, owning a similar reach and just a two-inch height advantage. The Belgium native does have an intricate knowledge of angles and technique, finding his best success on the outside. There isn’t anything fancy about it as a jab and leg kicks while switching stances are his primary weapons as he maintains distance.

He’ll need to keep busy with those as Dos Anjos is considered to be one of the best pressure fighters in the sport regardless of weight class. Using superior footwork to cut off the cage, like Saffiedine, Dos Anjos relies heavily on a constant jab and leg kicks. However, RDA is best known for his brutal kicks to the body that continually sap his opponents of their energy. Due to his preference for remaining in striking distance, Dos Anjos takes quite a bit of damage. He doesn’t get enough credit for his durability as fans tend to remember his KO losses to Jeremy Stephens and Eddie Alvarez, but Dos Anjos has proven very difficult to put away.

Dos Anjos has also proven to be a strong wrestler, excelling at wrestling against the fence as his pressure regularly puts his opponent there. It is often forgotten that Dos Anjos entered the UFC primarily as a high-level BJJ practitioner, though it should be noted that there has been no decline in his grappling prowess even if it hasn’t been focused on as much. He’ll have a tough time with Saffiedine who has proven difficult to take to the ground. Only the best takedown artists have found success getting him to the floor. Worth noting too is that each of those opponents were much bigger than Dos Anjos.

There are quite a few similarities between these two, something you wouldn’t notice at first glance. Both rely heavily on jabs and leg kicks, Dos Anjos throwing with more power and Saffiedine owning a bit more range. It’s a tough call as Saffiedine is better than his UFC record indicates, while the success of Dos Anjos’ transition can be called into question. It won’t be easy, but I see Dos Anjos pressing a ridiculous pace where he should score just enough takedowns to sway the judges to see things his way. Dos Anjos via decision

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