UFC Fight Night 52 takes place on September 20, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. If there is a “can’t miss” fight on the prelims for most Asian fight fans, it is probably this intriguing striker versus grappler contest, Lim Hyun-Gyu (12-4-1) versus Takenori Sato (17-9-7).
Lim, a Korean Top Team representative and the former PXC champion, lost on the scorecards in a five round war last January against top-ranked Tarec Saffiedine. Stepping in on the other side of the octagon is Sato, a Kazushi Sakuraba disciple and the former Pancrase champion, who was TKO’d in Brazil last February by the deadly quick striker Erick Silva in his debut for the UFC. As both fighters are coming off losses, they are looking to get back in the win column.
In Lim’s first two fights in the UFC against Marcelo Guimaraes and Pascal Krauss, he did not face much adversity. He came out the gate hard and aggressive to overwhelm each opponent eventually finishing both of them with strikes.
The last fight against Saffiedine, however, was a different story. Up to that point, Lim had never faced an adversary with such technical prowess and discipline in the striking arena. Saffiedine used a sound gameplan to break down the legs throughout the whole fight which limited Lim’s movement and power in his strikes.
Battered and bruised, nonetheless, he kept pushing forward until the very end where he almost mounted a comeback in the fifth. As a result, Lim put every fighter on notice in the welterweight division that he will not go away easily.
Sato, fighting out of Ryo Chonan’s TRIBE Tokyo MMA, had an uneventful and limited debut at UFC Fight Night 36. The fight only lasted 52 seconds and he was unable to display his talents to the world. This time around he is fighting in his motherland which will allow him to be more comfortable in the octagon.
The judo black belt has been competing in the sport of mixed martial arts for the past ten years. He does not lack experience since he has competed in almost every promotion under the sun in Japan.
Originally under the instruction of famed PRIDE legend Kazushi Sakuraba, he is well-versed in catch wrestling and judo, tallying up six submission wins and no submission losses. Sato’s most memorable win was a redeeming rematch against Keiichiro Yamamiya, the former Pancrase Light Heavyweight Champion, back in September of 2012. He has also defeated fellow UFC Japanese welterweight Kiichi Kunimoto.
Lim versus Sato: Fight Analysis
The game plan will most likely be very simple for the South Korean slugger, stay off the canvas and out of the clinch where his opponent is most dangerous, at the same time, throw strikes from all angles at a distance until he stuns Sato and then go in for the kill. Since Lim will be four inches taller and have a seven inch reach advantage over his opponent, picking him apart from the outside will be optimal. Sato has been knocked out six times throughout his career, so if Lim connects with the power that he possesses, it might be bedtime for Sato.
For Sato to win this fight he will need to get to the ground fast. From the sound of the bell in the first round he will need to bum rush Lim and get in close and tight. The clinch is where Sato will have the most advantages and utilizing his judo and catch wrestling will pay dividends. The worst thing Sato can do is start trying to go toe-to-toe with his lengthy foe. Lim has been submitted twice in his career so there is a chance Sato can catch him in a bad spot and capitalize.