Check out the details of the rest of the prelims from UFC Singapore featuring legendary lightweight Takanori Gomi and an important flyweight contest between Justin Scoggins and Ulka Sasaki.
With the announcement of Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fighting at the end of August, it’s easy to forget that there is a UFC card this weekend in Singapore. However, it isn’t like the quality of the card is making it any easier for fans to remember that. The highest profile name on the prelims is also the fighter most would least like to watch. Yet Takanori Gomi continues to make his way to the cage when most believe he should have called it quits by now.
Despite that, I will throw out this tidbit: the flyweight battle between Justin Scoggins and Ulka Sasaki is one you won’t want to miss. I’m not going to tell anyone to wake up early to catch the contest, but I will recommend catching it later once you’ve woken up.
The prelims begin on Fight Pass at 4:45 AM ET/1:45 AM PT on Saturday.
Takanori Gomi (35-12, 1 NC) vs. Jon Tuck (9-4), Lightweight
Gomi is a legend. Nobody with a modicum of knowledge about this sport will deny that. However, anybody who has watched his last three contests will also admit that he is now just a shell of a fighter that he once was. He’s been finished in the first round in each of those three contests without any significant offense of his own in the process. Granted, Myles Jury, Joe Lauzon, and Jim Miller aren’t easy opponents, but you’d expect Gomi would have something to offer.
Does all that mean Gomi is guaranteed to lose against Tuck? Not necessarily. Tuck is a big step down from the losses Gomi has suffered. Plus, there haven’t been any indications that Gomi has lost any of his vaunted punching power. He simply hasn’t been able to land cleanly. If he is able to do so against Tuck, don’t be surprised if he is able to put the Guam native to sleep.
It isn’t that Tuck is fragile. He’s actually very tough. Remember the broken toe he suffered in his TUF fight? No, the problem is that Tuck isn’t very efficient on defense and doesn’t have the wrestling to expose Gomi the same way Lauzon and Miller were able to do so. If Tuck can get the fight to the ground, he is a very efficient grappler with a knack at sinking in a RNC if his opponent exposes their back. Gomi has a history of giving up his back when hurt, so the opportunity will be there for Tuck if he can either wrest Gomi to the ground or hurt him with strikes.
Tuck’s striking is more diverse than Gomi’s as Gomi moves further away from his prime. However, for all of volume and array of kicks, Tuck isn’t a powerful striker. Gomi is a very prideful fighter who is no doubt embarrassed by his current run. So long as he sticks to the basics, he stands a good chance to catch Tuck. Regardless, every indication is that Gomi is finished. I hate saying it and would be ecstatic to see Gomi flash signs of the fighter that he once was, but Tuck should safely be able to take this. Tuck via submission, RD2
Cyril Asker (8-2) vs. Walt Harris (9-5), Heavyweight
There is opportunity for new blood to make their way up the ranks of the heavyweight division as there are signs the old guard is finally giving way. I don’t know if either Harris or Asker can take advantage of the opportunity, but they have a chance to make an impression here.
Harris, despite already being 34 years old, has been someone many fight analysts have been keeping their eye on for a while. A natural athlete who played college basketball, Harris has begun putting together his raw skills in his last few contests. It all started coming together when he finally recognized he’s better off staying on the outside where he can better utilize his speed and explosiveness while also limiting the amount of heavy shots he takes. Considering his chin is questionable at best, it has served him very well.
Asker is much more straightforward, prodding with a jab before exploding with basic punching combinations. He doesn’t mix them up very much, making it easy to time a counter on him as Jared Cannonier was able to do in Asker’s debut. Asker does his best work in the clinch where his shorter frame allows him to maintain leverage and work away. His takedowns aren’t anything special, but his strength allows him to pull opponents away from the fence if he can get under their hips. On the ground, Asker’s grappling isn’t anything special, though he has shown the ability to pass guard.
Harris looks like he is finally putting it all together. He’s avoiding unnecessary damage and picking his spots well, both in part due to his improved footwork. He’s also done well to avoid takedowns, another factor that played into earlier UFC losses. Unless Asker has made some rapid improvements of his own, I don’t see him beating Harris outside of a lucky shot of his own. Don’t expect this to go the distance. Harris via TKO, RD1
Alex Caceres (12-10, 1 NC) vs. Rolando Dy (8-4, 1 NC), Featherweight
From headlining a card with Yair Rodriguez last August to a contest with…Ronaldo Dy. Seems like quite a fall for Caceres. Then again, his career has been marked by inconsistency. When he feels confident, Caceres can be competitive with anyone in the division. When anchored by his jab, Caceres flash has a lot more substance to it. Spinning attacks, flying knees, axe kicks…you name it and Caceres is willing to throw it. He’s slick in scrambles too, but has often been overpowered by opponents with strong wrestling backgrounds.
Fortunately for Caceres, that doesn’t describe Dy. The native of the Philippines has improved his wrestling technique, but still struggles to get the fight to the ground. Good thing for Dy that he’s a kickboxer capable of generating a surprising amount of power from a short distance with good timing on the counter. However, he isn’t an explosive athlete nor does he make good use of footwork to avoid damage.
Taking the fight on short notice, Dy should be commended for stepping up as he has. Then again, if he didn’t, he likely wouldn’t have ever made it to the big show as he really has no business in the UFC. Caceres has a tendency to coast when facing an opponent who doesn’t excite him. He should still get the win, but I’m not expecting a finish. Caceres via decision
Justin Scoggins (11-3) vs. Ulka Sasaki (19-4-2), Flyweight
After a one-fight venture into the bantamweight division, Scoggins returns to flyweight where he owns a victory over potential title challenger Ray Borg only 16 months ago. A talented kickboxer with a vast array of kicks, there aren’t many at flyweight that have the ability to match his KO power. Though he prefers to be on the offensive, Scoggins has shown the ability to fight off of his back foot as well, landing powerful counters to keep his opposition honest. A massive frame with a long reach helps him find success in these endeavors.
What is often overlooked is his ability to wrestle and scramble. Many forget that he completely dominated Borg on the ground, beating him to spot after spot rather than simply smothering the cat-quick wrestler. Not an easy task by any means. However, Scoggins has been his own worst enemy. Having a bad enough weight cut ahead of his scheduled contest with Ian McCall, Scoggins blew his chance at the highest-profile contest of his career, which prompted his brief excursion to bantamweight. That doesn’t even mention his tendency to pursue his opponent so aggressively that he walks himself straight into a submission.
Though Scoggins is a solid 5’7″, Sasaki is downright monstrous for the division at 5’11″with a 71″ reach. While he has yet to figure out how to make effective use of his length on the feet, he knows what to do with his long limbs on the ground. His specialty is getting the back and sinking in his hooks deep as he looks for a RNC. Sasaki’s wrestling leaves a lot to be desired as Wilson Reis took him down at will, though he’s dogged in his own attempts to get the fight to the ground either with a trip or dragging down his opponent with sheer will.
This contest is all about how Scoggins looks as he returns to flyweight. Sasaki shouldn’t be taken lightly and could easily expose Scoggins’ tendency to hand his opponent a submission victory, but this is Scoggins for the taking. If the American has adjusted his dieting and conditioning, he could jump into title talks in a division desperate for contenders should he win impressively here. Sasaki won’t make it easy for him. Scoggins via decision