Dong Hyun Kim often overwhelms opponents with power and technique. | Photo: John Evans/Sherdog.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s ongoing expansion into the Asian market means yet another bleary-eyed morning for mixed martial arts fans in the United States.
UFC Fight Night 37, which takes place at the Cotai Arena in Macau, China, kicks off on UFC Fight Pass at 5:45 a.m. ET/2:45 a.m. PT on Saturday. Maybe you are better off not going to sleep at all if you plan on watching live, and really, with several newcomers from “The Ultimate Fighter: China” to examine, who is getting sleep anyway?
Of course, the main attraction for most will be the headliner between Dong Hyun Kim and John Hathaway, a pair of welterweights with solid resumes who are looking to establish a foothold in a suddenly wide-open division. Get your coffee ready.
Here is a closer look at UFC Fight Night 37, with analysis and picks:
WelterweightsDong Hyun Kim (18-2-1, 9-2 UFC) vs. John Hathaway (17-1, 7-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Hathaway has won seven of eight fights about as quietly as one possibly can while competing under the UFC banner. Although he has fought four times since, the London Shootfighters representative’s biggest win remains a UFC 114 triumph over Diego Sanchez.
A pair of year-long absences has slowed Hathaway’s progress some, as has his performance. He has looked solid but not spectacular in racking up a trio of victories over mid-carders Kris McCray, Pascal Krauss and John Maguire. This figures to be the most difficult test of the 26-year-old Englishman’s career to date. Hathaway was outwrestled and outgrappled by Mike Pyle in his lone Octagon defeat in October 2010, and his main task here will be to prevent the monstrous Kim from doing the same.
The “Stun Gun” has recovered nicely from traumatic losses to Carlos Condit and Demian Maia, racking up dominant, grappling-based wins against Paulo Thiago and Siyar Bahadurzada before scoring a surprise knockout of Erick Silva in his last outing at UFC Fight Night 29.
Normally content to use a conservative mix of jabs and low kicks to set up clinch and takedown opportunities, Kim ramped up the aggression against Silva, using wild punches and spinning back fists to apply pressure to his Brazilian foe. This tactic not only enabled him to close distance and tire Silva, but it also paid off in the form of a big knockout blow. Kim absorbed some shots in the process but was durable enough to keep the pressure on throughout.
Hathaway is usually at his best when he can utilize his length to keep his foes at the end of his strikes while mixing in takedowns and ground-and-pound. The Englishman will up the intensity of his attacks when he is confident of being the better wrestler. That will not be the case here, as Kim, who also has a strong judo base, will control the action in the clinch and on the mat, where he shuts down sweeps and scrambles consistently from top position. Hathaway has neutralized decent wrestlers like Sanchez and Rick Story in the past, often getting by on a superior mix of balance and agility. Kim figures to be much more difficult to deny.
Making matters worse for Hathaway is the fact that he will be at a slight reach disadvantage, so intelligent movement is paramount to his success. Hathaway has great timing on his lead knee, so Kim must be wary of dropping his head when pressing forward. Countering opportunities could be available, as well, if Kim is as wild as he was against Silva.
The Pick: The size and constant pressure of Kim will be too much to overcome, as the Korean captures a decision.
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