Look deep into the fights taking place in the wee hours of the morning from Singapore, featuring China’s Li Jingliang and an action contest between Kwan Ho Kwak and Russell Doane.
There is one question you need to ask yourself for this card: How much do you value your sleep time? Given the start time of the prelims this Saturday (4:45 AM ET/1:45 AM PT), you’ll be giving that up if you want to watch the card live. There are a few fights that might entice – Kwan Ho Kwak and Russell Doane comes to mind – but even I have to admit that sleep sounds a lot more appealing. Keep in mind, so long as you have Fight Pass, you’ll be able to watch these contests any time after they take place.
Though I’ve already stated it, the prelims begin at 4:45 AM ET/1:45 AM PT on Saturday.
Li Jingliang (12-4) vs. Frank Camacho (20-4), Welterweight
Jingliang may have dodged a big bullet. After injury forced the massive Jonathan Meunier to pull out, natural lightweight Camacho agreed to step in on short notice, doing so with less than two weeks notice. Camacho does have some pop in his punches, but he also has a bad habit of hanging in the pocket and swinging away when he’d be better served picking his spots. Nonetheless, his right hook has finished many of fight and he has good timing off the counter.
Jingliang has transformed himself from a lay-and-pray style fighter who fans couldn’t have cared less to see into a fun kickboxer. Constantly pushing forward, Jingliang tends to take a lot of damage himself. He does make an effort to maintain distance with a jab and the occasional leg kick, though more often than not he ends up in a slugfest. Worth noting is that Jingliang still has his smothering top game he can fall back on should he need to… at least I’m assuming he does. It hasn’t been seen in a while.
Camacho has the power to pull off the upset, but I don’t like his lack of range or that his chin has been cracked on more than one occasion. Jingliang was rocked badly in his last contest against Bobby Nash, though he held onto his consciousness to pull out the victory. Throw in the lack of a consistent ground game from Camacho and it adds up to another victory for Jingliang. Jingliang via TKO, RD2
Kwan Ho Kwak (9-1) vs. Russell Doane (14-7), Bantamweight
Kwak is one of the more unsung prospects on the roster and I can’t figure out why. Yes, he does have poor takedown defense, but he’s a lot of fun to watch. Viewing his last contest with Brett Johns, I saw a little bit of Chan Sung Jung as he was content to eat punches while walking forward to deliver his own offense. Kwak may even be a bit more diverse in his striking, throwing a high volume of kicks. Don’t be surprised to see a flying knee or spinning back fist come out of nowhere either. However, his wrestling really is that bad…Johns took him down eleven times in fifteen minutes.
Doane isn’t noted for his wrestling, but he has shown enough ability to threaten with takedowns against the likes of Kwak. However, it is his scrambling and submissions that opponents should be more concerned about as he has shown the ability to snatch a guillotine out of nowhere. Then again, he’s just as likely to get caught in one himself. Doane’s striking has come along very nicely as well, throwing an array of strikes in combination with a good amount of pop.
If there is a dark horse contest to keep an eye on in the prelims, this one is it. It isn’t because either one looks like they are about to move up into the standings – though they both have the ability to climb into the rankings – but because I can’t possibly see this contest being boring. It’s a close enough contest that there isn’t a definitive favorite. Their chins have proven difficult to crack, so a submission is a more likely finish than a KO. Still, I’ll flip a coin to see who wins and say it’s going the distance. Kwak via decision
Naoki Inoue (10-0) vs. Carls John de Tomas (8-0), Flyweight
Fun fact: De Tomas wasn’t even six months old when Vitor Belfort made his UFC debut. That makes him the old man in this contest; Inoue wasn’t even born when Belfort arrived at UFC 12.
The main thing to establish here is that Inoue and de Tomas are both very young and very raw…thus why matching them up with one another makes perfect sense as neither of them appear to be ready for the big stage. Inoue has proven to be a slick submission artist, either catching his opponent in an armbar or taking their back and getting a RNC. His striking is a bit clunky, but not as bad as you’d expect out of a teenager. He has good genes too as his sister is Invicta star Mizuki Inoue.
De Tomas isn’t nearly as smooth in his grappling, but he’ll have the edge in wrestling. He’s not going to be able to hang with the divisional elite, though he should have enough to hang with Inoue on the ground. De Tomas has some solid power on the feet, though not enough to be a consistent power threat. Then again, who is at flyweight.
There is a lot of question marks in this fight. Both have face questionable competition, though I’d say that Inoue’s competition has been more impressive. On top of that, there isn’t an abundance of quality footage of them either. Regardless, I’ve got to make a pick. I question how well de Tomas’ wrestling will be in holding down Inoue, leading me to believe Inoue has a strong chance of snagging a submission. Inoue via submission, RD2
Ji Yeon Kim (6-0-2) vs. Lucie Pudilova (6-2), Women’s Bantamweight
Plain and simple – much like Inoue and de Tomas — Kim and Pudilova shouldn’t be in the UFC… yet. Nevertheless, here they are in the UFC thanks to a lack of depth in women’s MMA in general. Fortunately for us, whether they should be fighting in the preeminent MMA organization doesn’t really have anything to do with how entertaining they are.
With her lone UFC appearance, Pudilova is a bit more proven than Kim. Pudilova showed a deep gas tank after taking her debut against Lina Lansberg on short notice, threatening to put away Lansberg in the final round after taking a beating. Despite the loss, Pudilova showed a lot of growth in her abilities, displaying a vastly improved clinch game to compliment her jab and kicks from a distance. She still struggles to avoid getting hit herself as Lansberg continued to land offense late despite being completely gassed.
At least Pudilova makes somewhat of an effort to avoid getting hit. On the other side of the cage, Kim is completely content to walk through whatever her opponent throws at her to get in her own shots. Her chin has been uncrackable thus far despite her opponents having all sorts of opportunities to do so. Kim’s offense is very diverse, from side kicks to head-and-arm throws to punching combinations to the head and body. Though her wrestling is adequate at best, Kim’s scrambling ability is top notch as the South Korean representative has a real knack for taking the back.
Though both Kim and Pudilova show signs of being players in the UFC for a long time, neither are ready to be facing top competition yet. Hence, why they are facing each other. Neither are very deep into their careers with plenty of time to grow. Both are extremely tough, which is why I struggle to see this going any way other than a decision. I’ll take Pudilova as she does make an actual effort to avoid eating punches, but I won’t be shocked to see Kim make a successful debut. Pudilova via decision