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South Korea’s Yui Chul Nam made quite an impression in his UFC debut Saturday, winning a thrilling back-and-forth split decision over Kazuki Tokudome in UFC Fight Night prelim action at the Cotai Arena in Macao, China.
Scores were 29-27, 29-28, and 27-28 for Nam, now 18-4-1; Tokudome falls to 12-5-1.
Nam lived up to his nickname “The Korean Bulldozer,” tearing after Tokudome at the start, firing lefts and rights as he sought the early finish. And he almost got it, scoring a couple flash knockdowns before a right hand put Tokudome down hard a little over a minute into the round. Tokudome tried to lock up Nam’s arm from the bottom position, but the Korean banger continued to deliver ground strikes with bad intentions. With two minutes left, Tokudome was able to get back to his feet, and he even jarred Nam briefly as the two exchanged punches before going back to the mat briefly. As the two rose in the final minute, Nam scored another knockdown before Tokudome went back to his corner at the bell with a cut under his right eye and his left eye rapidly closing.
After a visit from the Octagonside physician, Tokudome was cleared to continue for round two, and he got a quick takedown to begin the frame. Punch after punch followed as Nam was pinned to the fence, and Tokudome had suddenly changed the complexion of the fight with a dominant second round ground attack.
Both fighters got rocked in an early round three exchange before Tokudome scored the takedown and grounded Nam once again. Midway through the round, Nam worked his way upright, and while Tokudome sought another takedown, the Seoul native powered through and put himself in the top position. With 90 seconds left, the two stood, exchanged punches, and then it was Nam with the takedown. But after a final standup exchange, Tokudome got a takedown just before the close of a memorable clash.
LEE vs. PHAN
Veteran Nam Phan had no answers for England’s Vaughan Lee in their bantamweight bout, with Lee delivering a career-best performance in winning a shutout three round decision over the former Ultimate Fighter competitor.
Scores were 30-27 twice, and 30-26.
Lee, opening up in a southpaw stance, showed off a sharp stand-up attack, firing off a laser-like left hand that kept Phan off-balance and unable to counter. At the midway point, Lee, showing a remarkable amount of confidence, dropped his hands and began walking Phan down, landing shots to the body and head every step of the way. It was a brilliant performance by the Birmingham native in the first five minutes.
Nothing changed in the second and third rounds, with Phan even looking for a couple takedowns in an attempt to turn the tide, but that attempt was easily tossed aside by the Brit, allowing him to keep pecking away at the Californian from all angles, cutting him over the left eye in the process as he nabbed his third UFC victory.
With the win, Lee improves to 14-9-1; Phan falls to 18-14.
WANG vs. CHENG
Wang (2-1) was the busier fighter in the opening round, not landing anything of consequence, but throwing plenty and keeping Cheng (2-4) from getting close. With a minute left, the crowd began getting restless at the lack of sustained action, and Wang responded by going on the attack, cutting Cheng and closing his right eye. The aggressive run by Wang did allow Cheng to get near enough to seek a takedown, but Wang’s takedown defense was solid.
The fight wouldn’t see a second round though, as the closed right eye forced Cheng to retire in the corner based on the Octagonside physician’s advice, giving Wang his first Octagon victory.
EDDIVA vs. TUERXUN
Highly-touted home country favorite Jumabieke Tuerxun got a rude welcome to the Octagon from fellow newcomer Mark Eddiva in the opener, as Eddiva won the battle of unbeaten featherweights via unanimous decision.
All three judges saw it 30-27 for Eddiva, now 6-0; Tuerxun falls to 17-1.
Eddiva, fighting for the first time since January of 2011, was on with his striking as the bout commenced, nailing Tuerxun with right hands and a kick to the head before getting his foe to the mat. There, Eddiva continued to give Tuerxun a hard time, firing away with punches and knees as he kept the Xian product pinned to the fence for the rest of the round, even as the two rose.
Tuerxun tried to get back in the fight in the second frame, but a takedown attempt resulted in him getting locked up against the Octagon fence again. And when they broke, things didn’t get much better, as Eddiva opened a cut on his opponent’s forehead. With a little less than a minute left, Tuerxun was finally able to get a takedown, but the Baguio City native rose quickly and then got his own takedown just before the bell.
In the final round, fatigue and sharp striking from Eddiva dug a hole for Tuerxun, and getting mauled at close range by the bigger Filipino fighter didn’t help matters for someone who previously competed at bantamweight. In the closing moments of the fight, Tuerxun did make a final charge, nearly sinking in a triangle choke before Eddiva escaped and got back to his feet to ride out the final seconds and secure the win.