Previewing UFC Fight Night 141
The UFC makes its first trip to the capital city of Beijing, China Saturday morning and a Top 5 Heavyweight matchup headlines the card. Finishing up your Black Friday Shopping early and getting into bed early for a 3:15 am EST kickoff of the Fight Pass prelims sure sounds like a fun way to spend your Thanksgiving Weekend. The UFC is set to venture to Beijing for the first time and the card is filled with some of the best Chinese MMA talent out there today. The main event is a rematch of two Heavyweights who are now ranked in the Top 5 of the Division. Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (10-1 1NC #43 Ranked Heavyweight) will look to avenge his only pro loss against former Heavyweight Title Challenger Francis “The Predator” Ngannou (11-2 #4 Ranked Heavyweight). It is a shame that this is a Fight Pass exclusive fight that will appear in the early hours of Saturday morning, but this is going to be a great matchup. We have a total of 12 fights on the card Saturday morning let’s look at what is in store for UFC Fight Pass.
We start the morning off with the prelims as Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka (13-5) returns to the UFC to welcome Sumudaerji Sumudaerji (8-1) to the organization. Louis Smolka had fallen on hard times and found himself outside of the UFC after 4 straight losses in 2016-2017. He went out and picked up 2 straight wins one by knockout and one by submission. He now gets a shot to get back into the UFC in a Division that may be going away. Smolka had spent 3 years in the UFC going 5-5. He has been very streaky including a 4-fight win streak that immediately preceded the 4-fight losing streak that saw him get cut from the roster. Smolka certainly has the talent, but it is a matter of dedication and consistency in the cage. He has 5 knockouts and 6 submissions and could rely on the experience in the Octagon to get him back in the win column under the UFC banner. For Sumudaerji Sumudaerji his UFC debut will be made at just 22 years old. A legitimate knockout artist Sumudaerji has 7 knockouts on his resume. His striking is where he is going to want to be. Submissions have not been friendly to him. This is an interesting spot kicking off the card against a seasoned veteran. He will need to calm the nerves and use that striking to his advantage. Prediction: Louis Smolka via Submission.
We head to Middleweight next as Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland (13-4) takes on John “The Welsh Wrecking Machine” Phillips (21-6). Kevin Hollands UFC debut in August of 2018 did not go as planned. A 3-round decision loss to Thiago “De Lima Marreta” Santos (19-6 #15 Ranked Middleweight). Holland had won but not received a contract on the Contender Series and took that matchup on late notice. He now will have a full camp to get ready for his Sophomore fight in the UFC. Holland has 6 knockouts and 5 submissions, so he will be comfortable no matter where the fight goes. He must shake off that debut loss and be ready for a battle Saturday. For John Phillips, his debut did not go well either. A first-round submission loss to Charles “Kid Dynamite” Byrd (9-5) in March the former BAMMA Midweight Champion is looking to get back on track. Phillips is a knockout machine with 18 of his 21 wins coming that way. In fact, only 1 of his 29 career fights has seen the judges get involved. If he can get his striking going early he may have a quick night. Prediction: John Phillips via TKO.
In our first Female matchup on the card, two Strawweights enter a Xiaonan “Nine” Yan (9-1 1NC) takes on Syuri Kondo (6-1). Xianonan Yan has been very successful since joining the UFC in 2017. She has rattled off two straight decision wins over Kailin Curran (4-6) and Viviane “Sucuri” Pereira (13-3). Yan is a talented striker who has 5 career knockouts. She can dig deep into the 30 minutes that she has already spent in the Octagon and look to build a 3-fight win streak and end up with a ranking next to her name by this time next week. For Syuri Kondo a disappointing loss to Poliana Botelho (7-2) in her last appearance gave her the first loss of her MMA career. However, Kondo can right the ship with a win here. She goes to the judges often. She has seen them in 5 of her 6 career wins. She must stay calm and be able to evade the striking on Yan. This is a fun fight between two solid prospects at 115lbs. Prediction: Xiaonan Yan via Decision.
Up next, we get Pingyuan Liu (12-5) taking on the debuting Martin “The Spartan Day” (8-2). For Pingyuan Liu a UFC debut win by decision in July bring shim here looking to start a win streak. Liu has 4 knockouts and 5 submissions on his resume. He will be looking to use that 3-round battle he had with Damian “Webster” Stasiak (10-6) on that card. He will be fighting in his home country and having the crowd behind him could push him over the edge. For Martin day a tough loss on Season 1 of The Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series led him to three straight wins. That got him back on the UFC’s radar and gives him his debut here in China. Day is a talented fighter and we saw in his matchup on the Contender Series that he can go the distance relatively easily. Day has 3 knockouts and 2 submissions to his name and he is going to need to dig deep if he wants to disappoint the home fans and earn a win in his debut. Prediction: Liu Pingyuan via Decision.
We head back to Strawweight as Weili Zhang (17-1) takes on Jessica “Jag” Aguilar (20-6). Weili Zhang picked up a decision win in her debut when she took on Danielle “Dynamite” Taylor (9-4). She now returns to the Octagon just a few months later and is looking to begin a win streak. That would only be a UFC win streak however as Zhang has not dropped a fight since her MMA debut. That is 17 straight wins on the line for the talented 29-year-old. She has also finished 15 of those fights with 9 knockouts and 6 submission wins. Zhang will have the crowd behind her, but she is also facing an experienced and determined fighter. Jessica Aguilar picked up the elusive first UFC victory in her third attempt to do so back in July. She now has gone 45 minutes in her 3 UFC fights and let the judges decide her fate each time. Aguilar is the former World Series of Fighting Strawweight Champion who is looking to get on track and prove that she is still one of the best in the world. Aguilar has 8 submissions on her record and her ground game is very good. This is a fun fight between a rising prospect and a veteran looking to prove that she is still at the top of the heap. Prediction: Weili Zhang via Decision.
We jump all the way up to Heavyweight next as Yaozong “Totoro” Hu (3-1) takes on Rashad “Daywalker” Coulter (8-4). Hu Yaozong dropped his UFC debut to Cyril “Silverback” Asker (9-4) almost a year ago to the day he returns to the cage. Hu showed serious heart in that fight, but he just was unable to get it done. That could have been the first time UFC jitters rearing their ugly heads. He had finished all three of his previous opponents. He is going to have to be ready for a battle in this matchup as Coulter has been known to get involved in some serious wars. Speaking of Rashad Coulter 3 straight losses in his UFC fights has him on the verge of seeking a new organization. The one thing you can’t say is that when Coulter does get in there the fights are absolute slugfests. That is most likely why he is still here on the UFC’s roster, because despite losing he still puts on entertaining fights. Prediction: Rashad Coulter via TKO.
We head to Bantamweight next as Yanan “Mulan” Wu (9-2) takes on rising prospect Lauren “Princess Tiger” Mueller (5-0). Yanan Wu dropped her UFC debut to Gina “Danger” Mazany (5-2) in November of 2017. She now looks to get back on track and pick up her first UFC win. Wu is just 22 years old but owns 6 knockouts in 9 of her career wins. She showed some serious heart in the matchup with Mazany. She will need that heart against the undefeated Mueller. Hopefully, she can put it all together and prove that she belongs in the UFC. Lauren Mueller followed up her contract earning win of the Contender Series with a decision win in her UFC debut in April of 2018. That win puts her in a place where she can start to build towards the Top 15. She has a tough task ahead of her, but the undefeated 27-year-old will be looking to prove her position in the UFC. Mueller has 4 wins by decision, and she has no problem grinding it out to grab a victory. Mueller’s grappling may play all the difference in this matchup. Prediction: Lauren Mueller via Decision.
We close out the prelims at 170lbs as Kenan “The Assassin” Song (13-4) takes on Alex “The Great White Morono (14-5 1NC). Kenan Song has burst on the UFC scene with 2 straight knockout wins. Those were his 5th and 6th knockouts of his career. However, Song also has 6 submissions to his name. Song has devastating power that can close the show whenever. He is a prospect that is so intriguing. He now gets his 3rd fight in the last 12 months and a win here will bring even more of a spotlight on the 28-year-old. Alex Morono has lost 2 of his last 3 fights in the UFC, and if it weren’t for a failed test for Marijuana metabolites from his opponent it would be 3 out of 4 losses. Morono is in desperate need of a win and he is going to have to evade the power punches from Song. Morono does have 4 knockouts and 6 submission wins. He is going to have to be able to dig deep to take this one home. Prediction: Kenan Song via Decision.
We head to the main card and get a 170lb battle between Li “The Leech” Jingliang (14-5) takes on David “Sagat” Zawada (16-4). Li Jingliang got back in the win column with a 3-round decision win over Daichi Abe (6-1) in June. Jingliang is one of the first and best prospects to have come out of China in the UFC’s history. He now looks to use his power to move back up the ranks at 170lbs. Jingliang has rattled off 5 knockouts and scored 5 submission wins in his MMA career. He will have the entire country behind him as he goes for another win in his home. David Zawada is coming in as an injury replacement and is looking to put his UFC debut loss in July to Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts (16-3). Zawada had rattled off 5 straight wins prior to that fight. Zawada is a powerful guy with 11 knockout s in his career. He has a tall task ahead of him in Jingliang, but a win here puts him in a pretty good spot heading into 2019. Prediction: David Zawada via TKO.
We head down to Bantamweight next as Yadong Song (12-3 2NC) takes on Vince Morales (13-5). Yadong Song has rattled off 5 straight wins including winning his first two fights in the UFC. His last appearance was a 2nd round knockout of Felipe “Sertanejo” Arantes (18-9-1). Song has looked good in those two appearances. He can go in there and take care of business well before the final bell sounds. Song will be looking to extend his win streak to 3 and be on the verge of a ranking. Vince Morales may have lost on Season 2 of The Tuesday Night Contender Series in July, but a brief stop in Bellator after has him getting his shot to debut in the UFC as a short notice replacement. Morales has 5 knockouts in his career, and if he can pull off the upset on Saturday he puts himself firmly in the UFC. Morales will have to on his game and but the UFC debut jitters behind him and look to disappoint the Chinese fans who are cheering for their fellow countrymen. Prediction: Yadong Song via Submission.
We head to the Co-Main event next and it is at Heavyweight as former UFC title challenger Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem (43-17 1NC #6 Ranked Heavyweight) takes on new to the UFC Sergey Pavlovich (12-0) Alistair Overeem has dropped two straight with vicious knockouts coming from both fighters who will appear in the main event. The 38-year-old legend of MMA has many people talking about the punishment he has taken in his long career in combat sports. He has bene knocked out 13 times and the last 2 were particularly bad. Overeem is still an elite striker who can stand with anyone. The question becomes can his chin still withstand the punishment the Heavyweight Division provides. Saying all of that still doesn’t count out Overeem. He is a guy filled with big fight experience and has been doing this for a long time. As he heads into his 62nd career fight. Overeem can still be a competitor in the UFC, he just needs to avoid the big shots that have been his downfall. Sergey Pavlovich comes into his UFC debut as the former Fight Nights Global Heavyweight Champion. He is undefeated in his career and has knocked out all but 3 of his opponents. He has a chance to take down a Top 10 UFC Heavyweights. Pavlovich will be looking for one big bomb to end this fight early. If Pavlovich can do this, he will be right in the mix of a division that is in desperate need of more fresh faces. Prediction: Sergey Pavlovich via TKO.
We head to the Main event rematch as Curtis “Razor” Blaydes (10-1 1NC #43 Ranked Heavyweight) will take on former Heavyweight Title Challenger Francis “The Predator” Ngannou (11-2 #4 Ranked Heavyweight). Since losing to Ngannou in April of 2016 Curtis Blaydes has been on a tear. He won 6 in a row with one of those wins being overturned for a failed test for Marijuana metabolites. Blaydes is an extremely talented wrestler who has gotten so much better in the last few years. The shocking knockout of Alistair Overeem with his elbows from top position on the ground announced that Blaydes was here to stay and wants a shot at the title. A win here over Ngannou will include a lot of that same game plan he used against Overeem. He is going to want to use his grappling and taking the fight to the mat. If he can take the fight there he can control a guy who struggles with a ground game in Ngannou. A win here and there is just no denying that Curtis Blaydes is the next challenger for the title. Francis Ngannou dropped 2 straight fights for the first time in his career. The hype that surrounded Ngannou in December of 2017 put him up on the pedestal of a future unbeatable champion. That came crashing to the earth as his attempt at the title against Stipe Miocic (18-3 #1 Ranked Heavyweight) and then his follow up to that was the most bizarre fight in Heavyweight history between him and Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (21-6 #2 Ranked Heavyweight). Ngannou is now at the back of the line at Heavyweight and looking to get his career back on track. We cannot forget how dangerous of a striker Ngannou is. His vicious one punch knockout power must be dealt with. We must see if his ground game has improved. Blaydes will certainly be a guy who is going to test that takedown defense. This is going to be a fun rematch and could determine who gets the next shot at Heavyweight early in 2019. Prediction: Curtis Blaydes via TKO.
We now have the first card for the UFC in the Chinese capital of Beijing. The UFC also announced they are designing and building a performance center in China for the fighters located there. Between China and Russia, the UFC is expanding on a global level in some of the biggest countries. The UFC is just plugging along as we head into the stretch run of 2019. After this weekend the UFC has 2 events next weekend Friday and Saturday. Good luck to those getting up at 315am to catch this card halfway through the Thanksgiving Weekend.