UFC Vegas 68 is an early front-runner for the promotion’s strangest occasion of the yr.
Initially set to happen in South Korea, Saturday’s card ended up again within the cozy confines of the UFC APEX after it was initially deliberate for Chan Sung Jung to have a triumphant homecoming. Sadly, an damage eliminated any probability of “The Korean Zombie” headlining what would have been UFC South Korea so the choice was made to only tack one other lineup to the Vegas board, despite the fact that a glut of Asian fighters (together with the Street to UFC match finalists) had already been booked for this date.
That is how we ended up with a essential occasion that received’t begin till three within the morning on the east coast.
Even weirder, that essential occasion is recycled from UFC Vegas 65, a heavyweight conflict between Derrick Lewis and Serghei Spivac that was postponed on struggle day (Lewis informed reporters this week that it was attributable to a bout of COVID-19). So in the event you have been trying ahead to that matchup, congratulations, you had however to attend a couple of months. Who says the MMA Gods by no means do something for us?
Additionally on the principle card, Da Un Jung appears to be like to rebound from his first UFC loss when he fights Devin Clark in a lightweight heavyweight bout, Marcin Tybura takes on Blagoy Ivanov in a conflict of heavyweight veterans, featherweight fan favourite Doo Ho Choi fights for the primary time since December 2019 as he faces Kyle Nelson, and 22-year-old Japanese welterweight Yusaku Kinoshita makes his UFC debut in opposition to Adam Fugitt.
What: UFC Vegas 68
The place: UFC APEX in Las Vegas
When: Saturday, Feb. 4. The seven-fight preliminary card begins at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+, adopted by a five-fight essential card at 1 a.m. ET on ESPN+.
(Numbers in parentheses point out standing in MMA Combating’s International Rankings)
Derrick Lewis (7) vs. Serghei Spivac
Right here’s what I wrote about this matchup again in November:
True, Derrick Lewis’ file has seen higher days, however let’s think about the kind of fighter you need to be to beat Lewis:
– you probably have a big measurement and athleticism benefit (Sergei Pavlovich, Ciryl Gane)
– in the event you additionally occur to be an accredited practitioner of swangin’ and bangin’ (Tai Tuivasa)
– in the event you’re a technically superior to striker (Gane, Junior dos Santos)
– in the event you’re Daniel Cormier (Daniel Cormier)
That’s the summation of Lewis’ previous 5 losses. I can comfortably state that Spivac doesn’t fall into any of these classes (truly, he is perhaps Daniel Cormier in disguise, can’t rule that one out).
What Spivac is is an efficient wrestler with nice technical abilities on the bottom. He is aware of the right way to take the struggle there, work for advantageous positions, and do injury. He ought to have curiosity in taking part in round on the ft, his solely aim ought to be to take Lewis down as quickly as potential and go to work.
However one factor Lewis excels at is getting up. He doesn’t care about your fancy stage adjustments and double legs, he doesn’t care about your meager ground-and-pound, and he positively doesn’t care about your jiu-jitsu. In his thoughts, escaping a precarious grappling state of affairs is so simple as hauling his 260-pound-plus body off of the canvas.
Until Spivac has one other path to victory I’m unaware of, he’s finally going to expire of choices, particularly in five-round struggle, and he’ll should spend a while with Lewis on the ft. As soon as that occurs, it’s lights out for Spivac.
What’s modified since then?
Lewis is definitely trying slimmer lately, although he weighed in at a wholesome 265 kilos on Friday. If that’s someway all muscle, then Spivac and the remainder of the heavyweight division might be in deep trouble. It additionally stays to be seen if catching COVID-19 can have any long run unfavorable results on Lewis’ performances going ahead, however let’s hope that’s not the case.
Having extra time to arrange for Lewis may benefit Spivac, however I’m greedy at straws right here to discover a cause to alter my choose. Based on Draft Kings, Spivac is a wholesome favourite right here, which is stunning to me.
You realize what? I’m going to tweak my choose. Overlook what I mentioned about Spivac shedding late within the struggle. Lewis by first-round knockout.
Da Un Jung vs. Devin Clark
It’s a disgrace that Da Un Jung received’t be having fun with the help of a boisterous South Korean crowd as he heads into the very best card placement of his UFC profession, as a result of he was on a pleasant run earlier than being stopped by Dustin Jacoby this previous July. That loss snapped a 14-fight unbeaten stretch for Jung, together with a 4-0-1 UFC mark.
Considered one of Jung’s strengths is his adaptability, which is necessary in opposition to the well-rounded Devin Clark. Clark’s first precedence will probably be to outwork Jung on the ft, a method that sometimes leaves him with little margin for error. It’s at all times felt like Clark, as technically sound as he’s on the ft, has at all times been at an influence deficit. He enters his fifteenth UFC struggle with only one knockout win for the promotion.
Jung is one other fighter that Clark can’t afford to commerce bombs with. Count on this one to show right into a cat-and-mouse chase at occasions, with Clark circling and utilizing as a lot cage house as he can to maintain Jung guessing. For Jung, it’s all about discovering Clark’s timing and connecting with arduous pictures at key moments.
This ought to be a detailed one. I’ve Jung taking it by late end.
Marcin Tybura (T10) vs. Blagoy Ivanov
Whereas the principle occasion has the potential for some traditional, dumb heavyweight enjoyable, Marcin Tybura vs. Blagoy Ivanov may make for a very dreadful grind.
Credit score to each males for sticking round so long as they’ve, significantly Tybura who stays a foil for loads of would-be up-and-coming contenders. Chill-inducing highlights is perhaps few and much between in Tybura’s 16-fight UFC run, however he’s at all times discovering methods to stifle his opponent’s offense and win. The identical can’t be mentioned of Ivanov, who has struggled to string collectively wins in recent times, regardless of remaining rattling close to unattainable to complete.
Neither of these tendencies ought to change on Saturday as Ivanov takes Tybura’s greatest pictures in a bout that may go the total quarter-hour. There will probably be loads of clinching and stalling in opposition to the wall, with possibly the occasional wild haymaker thrown in. Possibly one or two connects to spark some pleasure, however don’t wager on it.
Tybura by choice.
Doo Ho Choi vs. Kyle Nelson
Is “The Korean Superboy” rejuvenated or rusty?
On paper, Kyle Nelson ought to be straightforward pickings for Doo Ho Choi. You must think about that’s why this struggle was initially cooked up, to provide Choi an emotional win in his return struggle in entrance a house crowd. Seeing his hand raised after virtually 1,150 days on the shelf will nonetheless be significant, it simply won’t have the identical affect within the comparatively sparse UFC APEX.
I can’t assist however be involved not solely with Choi’s lengthy layoff, however the truth that he wasn’t precisely on a tear when he most not too long ago fought in 2019. Choi is on a three-fight shedding streak and whereas none of these losses are inexcusable (Charles Jourdain, Jeremy Stephens, and Cub Swanson, all robust outs), it’s truthful to ask if these outcomes have already given us an correct gauge of Choi’s ceiling. Have his aggressive fires been stoked whereas he’s been away or have these flames died out?
Nelson has had horrible luck within the octagon and if Choi reveals up at his greatest, the Canadian might be in for a tough evening on the workplace. He’s by no means afraid of a scrap and that may develop into to his detriment. I’m not satisfied Nelson can win a firefight with Choi, however on the similar time that is perhaps his greatest probability of stealing a choice.
Let’s assume the matchmakers know what they’re doing right here with how they’ve dealt with Choi’s comeback struggle. Choi by first-round knockout.
Yusaku Kinoshita vs. Adam Fugitt
I get the hype round Yusaku Kinoshita, however don’t rely out Adam Fugitt right here.
In the event you’re in search of causes to go along with the underdog, measurement is an apparent place to look. Fugitt enters Saturday’s contest with a five-and-a-half-inch attain benefit, which is perhaps underselling it. He has an upright Muay Thai hybrid fashion that makes him appear even taller and he assaults from odd angles. Add in an aggressive ground-and-pound fashion when he manages to achieve high place and there’s so much to love right here.
In the event you’d slightly play it protected and choose Kinoshita, his youth and energy are good causes to take action. I discussed Fugitt’s upright fashion, which makes for some enjoyable offensive choices, but additionally leaves his chin broad open. The springy Kinoshita may pounce on that defensive deficiency and finish this struggle early.
Fugitt has proven me sufficient flashes that I really feel OK going with my intestine and choosing an upset. That 12-year age hole does fear me although.
Jeka Saragih def. Anshul Jubli
Jeong Yeong Lee def. Yi Zha
Rinya Nakamura def. Toshiomi Kazama
Hyun Sung Park def. Seung Guk Choi
Ji Yeon Kim def. Mandy Bohm
Jun Yong Park def. Denis Tiuliulin
Tatsuro Taira def. Jesus Santos Aguilar