UFC returns to Singapore

Holly Holm and Bethe Correia

After a 16-month hiatus, the Las Vegas-based UFC makes its way back to Singapore for what many see as the relaunch of its brand in Asia.

Singapore has become an unlikely battle ground for the hearts and minds of MMA fans in the region and the UFC is bring its big guns.

Kicking off UFC Fight Week is the Asian Open Championships, an amateur mixed martial arts tournament held by the International MMA Federation in partnership with UFC.

Taking place at the Marina Bay Sands from 13 to 16 June, the event will see 66 amateur fighters from 16 countries vie for the inaugural title, and take a step closer to realising their professional MMA dream.

Joe Carr, UFC senior vice president of International, said IMMAF’s first Asian Open Championships is a demonstration of UFC’s commitment in assisting the development of MMA in the region.

“By beginning at a grassroots level, we can help give budding Asian fighters a platform to compete and grow as they pursue their professional ambitions,” he said.

So what are fans in for fight wise? Here’s a sneak peak of the card as it currently stands.

Main Card Preview

Both UFC veterans have faced off against Ronda Rousey, two-time Olympic medalist, UFC Bantamweight Champion and Hollywood movie star known for single handedly bringing Women’s MMA to the UFC and ultimately, the international limelight.

Where as Bethe Correia took a devastating KO lost against the then unstoppable Rousey, Holly Holm was able to derail the hype train to take home the bantamweight belt back to the famed Jackson Wink MMA Academy.

In their upcoming headline bout at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Saturday 17 June, Holm carries a slight advantage. The multiple-time world boxing champion and kickboxing champion is no stranger to ground, however, it’s clear that Holm will be looking to keep the fight standing and pick apart her opponent with accurate, technical strikes from range.

However Correia’s tenacity and brawling approach to her fights could stifle Holm, and if she work on the inside, the former champ won’t be able to utilise her best tools; striking from the outside.

Welterweight Ambitions

Another treat on the card is one MMA die hards will be gunning for when former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (25-9) who undergoes his training camps at Singapore’s Evolve MMA, will make his welterweight debut against another veteran in Tarqiue Saffidine.

Expect Dos Anjos to utilise his crisp Muay Thai stand up and high level BJJ, whilst Saffadine looks to wrestle, grind and take the ex-champ’s will in hope to move on up the ladder in the rankings.

UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos v Cerrone
Rafael dos Anjos celebrates his TKO victory over Donald Cerrone in their UFC lightweight title bout on 19 December 19, 2015: Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.

PRIDE favourite and long time veteran Takanori Gomi, one of Japan’s top fighters whose resume includes a who’s who of the lightweight and welterweight divisions, will face off against Jon Tuck, who is need of a big win having lost two of his previous outings.

Stun Gun Firing

“The Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim (22-3-1), fighting out of Busan, South Korea has been on a tear since 2015, taking big wins over Tarec Saffiedine, Dominic Waters and Joshua Burkman.

Interestingly his last loss was to the current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, Kim. will be meet the relentless wrestler and submission ace Colby “Chaos” Covington (11-1).

Also on the main card is Cyril Asker (8-2), who takes on Walt Hariss (9-5) at heavyweight; Justin Scoggins (11-3) takes on Ulka Saski (19-4-2), Li Jingliang (12-4) vs. Frank Camacho. Naoki Inoue (10-0) will face late replacement in Carls John De Tomas (6-0).