UFC Fight Night 34 Preview: The Prelims
by Ryan Frederick on January 2, 2014

The UFC Fight Night 34 preliminary card features a plethora of unknown fighters to casual MMA fans, but there are some fighters who have competed inside the UFC Octagon on occasions clustered throughout the night’s official preliminary card. While all of the fights are streaming on the brand-new UFC Fight Pass, the card has been broken down with a main card and a preliminary card. The preliminary card kicks off the action at 6:30 AM eastern time on Saturday, leading to the main card capped off with a five-round welterweight bout between Tarec Saffiedine and Hyun Gyu Lim. We have taken a look at the main card, and now let’s take a look at the preliminary card and see what the action on Saturday has in store for the viewing audience.

Featherweights
Max Holloway (7-3, 3-3 UFC) vs. Will Chope (19-5, 0-0 UFC)

Two tall featherweights will cap off the preliminary card as the 5-foot-11 Max Holloway will fight the man who may be the world’s tallest 145-pound man in Will Chope, who stands at 6-foot-4. Holloway is looking to end a two-fight losing skid after suffering a decision loss to Conor McGregor at UFC Fight Night 26 in August. Holloway has the most UFC experience of any fighter on this card, and in fact, his six UFC fights are just one less than the seven UFC fights combined of the other 19 fighters on this fight card. Holloway did string together a three-fight win streak in the UFC that was capped off with a decision win over Leonard Garcia at UFC 155 in December 2012. He looks to get back into the win column following a winless 2013. Chope enters the UFC riding a 14-fight win streak and 18 wins in his last 19 fights after starting his career just 1-4. He has seven straight stoppage wins and is coming off a win in October.

This is a striker against grappler match-up as Holloway is the striker and Chope is the grappler. Holloway has good, solid striking, especially considering he is only 22-years-old, but he has struggled against wrestlers and grapplers in the UFC. Holloway likes to string together combinations and he is able to land with a high volume, and if he is able to find a rhythm on the feet, it may prove for a quick night. Chope needs to get the fight to the ground and work on his grappling, and Holloway will need to show improved submission defense. If Chope can work on the ground, this fight will be his. Holloway will be at a height and reach advantage, and he will need to get inside the distance and land some knees. Clinch work will happen in this, and the striking of Holloway will work better in that clinch. Holloway should be able to take this fight on the scorecards due to his output on the feet.

Prediction: Holloway

Lightweights
Katsunori Kikuno (21-5-2, 0-0 UFC) vs. Quinn Mulhern (18-3, 0-1 UFC)

Quinn Mulhern fights for the second time in the UFC as he makes the move down to the lightweight division and welcomes Japanese veteran Katsunori Kikuno to the UFC. Kikuno comes into the UFC on a five-fight win streak and is notable for his fights in the Dream and DEEP promotions in Japan, and he is a former DEEP Lightweight Champion. Mulhern is looking to get back into the win column after seeing his three-fight win streak halted by Rick Story at UFC 158 in March, which was Mulhern’s UFC debut. An injury kept him from fighting in August, and now he drops to 155 pounds, where he looks to find a comfort zone. Unfortunately for Mulhern, he gets a hot Kikuno who is looking to make a name for himself in front of the UFC audience.

Kikuno is a unique striker who will take a lot of chances on the feet, but he has proven results as he has scored twelve knockout wins. Kikuno likes to keep his hands down, and he has had trouble with formidable opponents, and while Mulhern isn’t close to sniffing the top ten in the UFC, he is a solid fighter who comes from one of the best fight camps in the world, the Greg Jackson Camp. Mulhern will be prepared for Kikuno keeping his hands low, but he will need to be prepared for the unorthodox striking attack from Kikuno. Mulhern has the size advantage, and if he can adjust nicely to the cut to 155 pounds, he will be able to use that size to dominate Kikuno with his wrestling. Kikuno is a heavy hitter and will be looking to finish the fight quickly. Mulhern has a chin that was rocked by Rick Story, and it will be tested again here. Kikuno will pass that test.

Prediction: Kikuno

Bantamweights
Royston Wee (2-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Dave Galera (5-0, 0-0 UFC)

Despite being the two most inexperienced fighters on the UFC Fight Night 34 fight card, not to mention being placed on the undercard, Royston Wee and Dave Galera got the billing of their fight on the event poster, and for good reason- these two are going to be cornerstones of the UFC’s attempt to break through to the Asian market. They are both solid prospects, and one of them is going to find themselves heading to their next fight with their first loss. Galera has more experience, but that isn’t saying much when they have a combined seven fights in their career. Wee is from Singapore and will have the push from the home crowd, but he has been inactive for quite a while. Galera likes to work fights on the ground and he has good submission skills for someone with five professional fights. He has been more active than Wee and it will be the factor in the win.

Prediction: Galera

Lightweights
Mairbek Taisumov (20-4, 0-0 UFC) vs. Tae Hyun Bang (16-7, 0-0 UFC)

We have two powerful lightweights debuting against each other as Mairbek Taisumov looks to extend a three-fight win streak against Tae Hyun Bang. Taisumov has proven himself to be a finisher as all twenty of his wins have come by stoppage. Bang has been inactive over recent years as he has just one fight since October 2010 as he left the sport to fulfill military commitments. Taisumov is a heavy handed wrestler with a solid submission game, and he packs some power in his right hand. Bang has solid punching power as well, but he doesn’t have the grappling that will be able to match the grappling of Taisumov. Bang has a bit more experience, but his time away from the sport may have hurt his chances against Taisumov. This one likely sees a finish, and with two powerful punchers, anything can happen in this fight. I like Taisumov to finish it with some ground-and-pound.

Prediction: Taisumov

Bantamweights
Dustin Kimura (10-1, 1-1 UFC) vs. Jon Delos Reyes (7-2, 0-0 UFC)

Dustin Kimura makes his third UFC appearance in the second bout of the evening, and he looks to get back into the win column after having his perfect record ended by Mitch Gagnon at UFC 165 in September. Kimura started his career with ten straight wins capped off with a win over Chico Camus in his UFC debut. Jon Delos Reyes is making his UFC debut coming off four straight wins, but he hasn’t fought since September 2012. Kimura has fought four times since Reyes last fought. Reyes has a lot of power in his hands but it will likely not be enough to match the grappling and submission game of Kimura. Kimura is slick on the ground and has scored seven of his ten wins by submission. Kimura has struggled when he is not winning the fight on the feet, and he may have trouble standing with Reyes, but his solid guard and dangerous ground game should be too much for Reyes. We may see a lot of finishes on this card, and this will likely be one of them.

Prediction: Kimura

Bantamweights
Leandro Issa (11-3, 0-0 UFC) vs. Russell Doane (12-3, 0-0 UFC)

A bantamweight bout between two relatively experienced fighters kicks off the action in Singapore as Leandro Issa and Russell Doane both look to notch their second straight win. Doane is coming in off a win over UFC veteran Jared Papazian and he has some momentum. Issa fought just once in 2013 and does hold a win over Masakazu Imanari in his career. Issa tends to be wild on the feet and likes to use his striking to set up the takedown, and he does have an active guard and good submission game. Doane is more of a striker and he packs a lot of power and is active in scrambles, but he needs to work on his wrestling if he is going to compete at a top level of a tough UFC bantamweight division. Issa should be able to dominate the fight on the ground, but Doane has the punching power to finish this fight on the feet. Doane is also suspectible to being knocked out. This is a solid opener for this card and will get the fans in attendance going early. Issa’s grappling will get him the win.

Prediction: Issa




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