Tarec Saffiedine's low kick game is fierce. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Hyun Gyu Lim learned a difficult lesson. Few men kick like Tarec Saffiedine.
Ruthless leg kicks, multi-punch combinations and a steely resolve carried Saffiedine to a unanimous decision over Lim in the UFC Fight Night 34 headliner on Saturday at the Marina Bay Sands in Marina Bay, Singapore. All three cageside judges sided with Saffiedine (15-3, 1-0 UFC): 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47.
“I worked really hard,” he said. “He’s a great fighter and really tough. I have great coaches. They put a game plan together, and I stuck to it.”
Lim (12-4-1, 2-1 UFC) -- who replaced the injured Jake Ellenberger in the main event slot -- enjoyed early success against the Belgian, as he countered his kicks with straight right hands and drove him to the canvas more than once. Saffiedine was undeterred. The former Strikeforce champion worked in combination to the head and body, mixing in low kicks when the opportunities arose. By the third round, Lim was stricken with a visible limp, his lead leg giving way. Saffiedine floored him multiple times with leg kicks, doubled over the South Korean with a knee to the ribs and dropped him with a flying knee. Still, Lim refused to quit.
In the fifth round, with Saffiedine in command, Lim launched a desperate and admirable bid at a miraculous comeback; and it nearly paid off. He had the 27-year-old Team Quest export on unsteady footing with knees and wild punches in the closing seconds, only to see Saffiedine secure a tie-up and hang on for the win.
“I was pretty hurt,” Saffiedine said. “He caught me with a good punch, but I was able to recover.”
Saffiedine has won five straight bouts since he wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Tyron Woodley three years ago. He now has his sights set on bigger prey.
“I want to fight [someone in] the top 10 in the UFC,” Saffiedine said. “I’m ready to face those guys. I can’t wait to get back in the gym and train for those guys.”
Kawajiri Choke Finishes Soriano
Former Shooto champion Tatsuya Kawajiri rendered Blackzilians prospect Sean Soriano unconscious with a second-round rear-naked choke in the featherweight co-main event. Soriano (8-1, 0-1 UFC) -- who replaced the injured Hacran Dias on short notice -- succumbed to the choke 50 seconds into round two, as he was beaten for the first time as a professional.
Kawajiri (33-7-2) was relentless in his pursuit of the takedown, and despite the best of intentions, his counterpart could do little to stop him. The Japanese veteran grounded Soriano in the first round, transitioned to the back and briefly fished for a rear-naked choke. As the round neared its conclusion, Kawajiri settled for ground-and-pound, first from back mount and then from full mount.
With Soriano on his heels, Kawajiri pushed for an immediate takedown in the second frame. From there, he moved again to the back, sinking the fight-ending choke.
“[I want to fight] someone stronger than this,” said Kawajiri, who has rattled off six consecutive victories. “I can be stronger with a stronger opponent. I was surprised that Soriano was so good.”
Dutra Disqualified Over Illegal Elbows
A series of illegal standing elbows from Renovacao Fight Team’s Luiz Jorge Dutra Jr. resulted in his being disqualified against Kiichi Kunimoto 2:57 into the first round of their featured welterweight scrap.
After an extended feeling-out process, Kunimoto (16-5-2, 1-0 UFC) moved into tie-up range and went to work against the cage, his head exposed beneath the Brazilian’s armpit. Dutra (11-3-1, 0-1 UFC) then uncorked a volley of rapid-fire elbows, at least three of which clearly landed to the back of the head, resulting in the stoppage. Kunimoto was removed from the cage on a stretcher as a precautionary measure.
‘Mr. Perfect’ Choke Submits Shimizu
Former Road Fighting Championship titleholder Kyung Ho Kang submitted Pancrase mainstay Shunichi Shimizu with a third-round arm-triangle choke in a bantamweight showcase. Shimizu (28-9-10, 0-1 UFC) conceded defeat 3:53 into round three, suffering his first submission loss in nearly six years.
Kang (12-7, 1-1) dominated all phases of the bout, but a two-point deduction for 12-to-6 elbows in the first round put him in a vulnerable position. It mattered not. The 26-year-old South Korean grounded and mounted Shimizu in rounds two and three, bashing him with ruthless elbows and standing-to-ground punches. Perhaps sensing his Japanese foe was ripe for the picking late in the third frame, Kang locked up the arm-triangle choke from full mount and secured the tapout.
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