It’s not often that there’s a UFC card taking place that will be happening when it’s early morning in the United States. Tomorrow, however, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. In Singapore, exclusively on Fight Pass, the UFC will host a 12-fight card with some notable names on it. The Prelims start at 3:30 am Central Time, and the main card will get underway at 7am. It’s on Fight Pass for that very reason-so that nobody has to wake up early to watch it live, and it can be seen at any time at the viewer’s convenience.
Holly Holm, Rafael dos Anjos, Andrei Arlovski, Dong Hyun Kim, Tarec Saffeidine, Takanori Gomi (yes, he’s still fighting) Bethe Correia and many others will be on the card. The matchups aren’t all great, and there could be some slogs, but this card has a lot of potential, The main card is full of name value, and should yield interesting results. Holm, Correia, Saffiedine and Arlovski all desperately need wins, while dos Anjos will need a win to avoid losing three straight fights. It’s not a great look when the biggest names on the card desperately need wins, but hey, that’s why they’re on this card in the first place. Hopefully, that will result in some good fights, as wishful as that thinking may be.
Alas, enough killing time. Here are my picks for tomorrow’s four-fight main card.
UFC Fight Night 111 main card (8/7am CT, UFC Fight Pass)
Rafael dos Anjos (25-9) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (16-6)
Opening up the main card is a bout between former UFC Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, as he takes on the final Strikeforce Welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine. This is RDA’s first ever fight at Welterweight, after going 25-9 in 34 career Lightweight bouts. It’s an intriguing move, since he was the Lightweight champ less than a year ago. However, it makes a lot of sense, since he lost the belt, lost to the top contender after that, and the weight cut was bothering him. If only more fighters would do what RDA did, it would benefit the sport.
Anyways, dos Anjos is a third degree black belt in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muai Thai, with eight submission wins and five knockout wins to go with his 12 decision wins. He’s 14-7 in his near nine years with the promotion, including wins over former UFC and WEC Lightweight champions Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis, Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone twice, and many others. Add in the fact that his conditioning will improve now that he has to cut less weight, and his ceiling in his new division is very scintillating.
As for Saffiedine, the Belgian needs the win.The Karate and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt went 6-1 in Strikeforce to earn the final Welterweight title shot in Strikeforce history, and defeated Nate Marquardt, to win the belt in what turned out to be the final bout in the promotion’s history. Since coming to the UFC though, in what was the first ever UFC Fight Pass main event, he’s just 2-3. He missed all of 2015, and now, in order to save his UFC career, he’s welcoming RDA to the same place where he made his UFC debut.
In 22 career fights, Saffiedine has gone the distance 15 times, and 13 times in his last 15 fights. Dos Anjos has gone the distance 18 times in 34 fights, and eight times in his last 12 fights. What I’m saying is that this fight is guaranteed to go the distance. Both men need the win, but Saffiedine needs it more. Both men are skilled, but dos Anjos is more skilled. A Saffiedine win wouldn’t be too shocking, but I see RDA taking the decision. It’ll be an interesting fight, and hopefully, the fans in Singapore wind up enjoying it. Prediction: Dos Anjos via decision.
Dong Hyun Kim (22-3-1, 1 NC) vs. Colby Covington (11-1)
Up next is, believe it or not, the only fight on the main card where neither fighter is on a skid. Covington is a former NCAA Division 1 All American wrestler who was the Pac-10 champion in both 2010 and 2011, and his transition to MMA has gone very smooth. He went 5-0 before coming to the UFC, and has quietly gone 6-1 with the promotion. Then again, when your biggest wins come against the aging Mike Pyle in 2015 and then against Bryan Barbarena, both via decision, you’re not going to have the masses paying too much attention to you. As a result, Covington has tried to talk trash, but like many MMA fighters, the results haven’t exactly been too great. He’s still very good at fighting though, with a great gas tank, terrific grappling and six submission wins. A win over Kim would be by far his biggest to date, against by far his toughest opponent to date, and would warrant him to be potentially placed near the top 10 of the division.
As for Kim, the 4th dan black belt in Judo is a whopping 13-3 with a no contest in the UFC, has been in the UFC since May 2008, and his only losses have come against the elites in the division (Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia and Carlos Condit.) If Covington were to beat him, it would be a big deal. Sadly for Covington, I think he’ll fall just short here. Kim is on a mission to prove his Judo is better than Covington’s wrestling, especially since Covington questioned how relevant Judo is in this day and age in MMA, and I think he’ll make a statement. This fight, like RDA vs. Saffiedine, feels guaranteed to go the distance. I’ll say that it will go the distance, and while Covington winning wouldn’t be a shock, I’ve got Kim taking this one. Prediction: Kim via decision.
Andrei Arlovski (25-14, 1 NC) vs. Marcin Tybura (15-2)
In the co-main event of the evening, the second and final bout above 170lbs for the evening will take place. Arlovski has accomplished a lot in the sport, having been a UFC champion, fighting for 18 years, and knocking out a who’s who of notable names in his 40 fights to date. That said, the 38-year-old has lost four straight, all via finish, after winning his first four bouts since returning to the UFC in 2014. He most certainly will get cut if he loses to Tybura, and whether he’ll choose to retire or fight elsewhere like Bellator or somewhere in Russia is yet to be seen. He still has amazing knockout power and is a Sambo star. However, Tybura will have the grappling edge.
Speaking of Tybura, the Pole is 2-1 in the UFC. His record shows that he’s finished 13 of his 15 wins, with seven knockout and six submission wins. Don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s a fun fighter to watch though. While he finishes almost all his fights, the fights tend to be like watching paint dry before the finishes come. That was the case in his pre-UFC days, and continues to be shown in each of his UFC fights. He should win this fight, but I hope he doesn’t. Either way, unless Arlovski lands a flush shot early, this could be a dreadful, and I do mean dreadful fight. Head pick: Tybura via late tko. Heart pick: Arlovski via brutal knockout, round 1.
Holly Holm (10-3) vs. Bethe Correia (10-2-1)
The main event of the evening pits two female Bantamweights who desperately need a win. I’m going try to keep this short. I like Holm, but she has no business headlining a UFC card in 2017. She may have won seven of her ten victories via knockout, but only one of them has come in the UFC. She’s been uninspiring in every other fight since coming to the UFC, has lost three straight since beginning her career 10-0, and this is the UFC’s desperate attempt to get her back on a winning track.
As for Correia, the most impressive part of her fight game is her delusion. Of her seven UFC fights to date, the only one that was entertaining at all was the one where she made Ronda Rousey look like an elite striker in a title fight that Correia had no business being in. Most of her fights have been gifted decisions. She’s 1-2-1 in her last four, but many would argue she should be 0-4 in that span. Alas, she has this fight, and I don’t see her winning. She’ll try to box Holm, and either get lit up and knocked out, or lose a decision in what will essentially be a sparring session. Either way, this is Holm’s fight to lose. If she loses here, it’s the equivalent of rock bottom for her. Prediction: Holm via decision or late tko.