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UFC Singapore Delivers Blood, Sweat, and Tears; The Korean Zombie Leaves it All in the Octagon

Photograph Credit: Suhaimi Abdullah/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

By Kevin Thomas

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The birds were chirping, the Keurig was plugged in, eggs were in the pan, and the UFC went live from Singapore Indoor Stadium with a fan-friendly and memorable fight card at 5 a.m. EST Saturday morning.

For the fans stateside who woke up before the sun, this card treated them to 7 highlight reel KO/TKO's, two legends clashing in the main event, the retirement of a beloved future hall of fame fighter, an action-packed preliminary card that featured some violent finishes, a loud and reactive crowd, as well as the debut of a world-renowned prospect.

The Main Event:

#1 Max "Blessed" Holloway Def. #8 The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung

Max Holloway and The Korean Zombie gave the fans a show as Holloway looked fast and accurate whilst earning his 20th victory as a featherweight. The two legends of the featherweight division exchanged leather for just over two rounds before Holloway landed a devastating overhand right that shut Zombie off and sent him crashing into the canvas with a loud thud.

The fight was worth the watch before the introductions were ever read. The Korean Zombie's walkout was emotional and hypnotizing as the popular song from The Cranberries, "Zombie," played. The crowd rose to their feet to sing the song word for word, showering The Korean Zombie with appreciation and support in what would end up being his final walkout before his retirement. Zombie soaked up every second of the moment.

In the first round, The Korean Zombie showcased the power that he spoke of leading up to this bout, the same punching power that he utilized to land some strikes that seemed to stun the seasoned chin of Max Holloway. However, seemingly every time Zombie landed something effective, Holloway would fire back a strike of his own.

Holloway not only found a lot of success with his right hand but also by using his left hook from the orthodox stance. He mixed his strikes with straights to the body, hooks to the head, calf kicks, and feints. This is what won him round one.

Holloway dropped Zombie with a right hand that landed just behind Sung Jung's ear. Holloway then attempted to finish the fight with an anaconda choke; this would have been his first submission since 2015 against Cub Swanson. Holloway would continue to land the majority of the strikes going into round three after Zombie escaped the anaconda choke and worked back to his feet.

The decisive moment came early into round three when Zombie came out from his corner with the mindset of kill or be killed. Zombie rushed forward, hurling hard punches at Holloway. "Blessed" would not give up his ground as they exchanged massive blows at rapid speed. Holloway escaped a clinch, spotted the right hand of Sung Jung incoming, sat down on a right hand of his own, and ended The Korean Zombie's career.

"I'm just lucky my right hand landed before his," Max Holloway said following his victory at UFC Singapore.

Holloway, sporting red trunks for the first time in his UFC career to show support for his native Hawaii as the ongoing wildfires have caused massive tragedy, lept over the fence to embrace his wife before coming back into the cage to check on his opponent.

After the results were read, Chan Sung Jung laid his gloves down in the center of the octagon, and the Korean Zombie retired. The emotional scenes that followed his final post-fight interview were tear-inducing. Jung literally left his blood, sweat, and tears on the canvas as he knelt facedown on the mat, crying with his gloves laid before him.

Zombie's famous walkout song played an encore as he hugged his coaching staff before he walked out of the octagon with tears filling his eyes and a grin covering his face. Fans again sang the song for him in unison as he made his final walk back to his locker room.

UFC Commentator Paul Feldman poetically summarized the career of The Korean Zombie when he said on the UFC Fight Night Post Show,

"That man is the epitome of indomitable spirit,"

Main Card Action:

#8 Anthony"Lionheart" Smith Def. #10 Ryan "Superman" Spann

A good ole' fashioned grudge match took place in the co-main event on Saturday. Two men going in seemingly opposite directions met for the second time.

Spann came into this bout looking to prove that his fight against "Lionheart" in 2021, during which Spann was defeated via rear naked choke in round one, was not a true indication of where his skills were.

Smith came into this bout needing a win badly, coming off of back-to-back losses (in addition to a loss to Glover Texiera in a grappling contest); Smith seemingly needed a win in this fight to prove to fans and the promotion that he still had some gas left in his tank.

Smith dictated the action in round one. "Lionheart" seemed to come out with a different stance. He utilized a more Muay Thai style stance than in his past few fights.

Smith's goal in round one seemed clear: to show Spann he was better in all areas. In round one, Smith succeeded in implementing his game plan onto his opponent and landed more impactful shots. He won the round on my cards.

Spann clearly won round two on the criteria of damage and dominance. "Superman" landed a massive left hook that badly injured Smith's left eye. Smith reacted by backing away and covering up. Spann would follow up and land some heavy ground and pound strikes, but Smith survived and continued to fight through what clearly bothered him and altered how he wished to fight.

Smith's left eye became so swollen between rounds that the octagon-side physician almost called the fight off but concluded that he could see out of his left eye and could go on.

Round three was razor close. It was difficult to say that either Spann or Smith had clearly done enough to warrant winning the third round; however, my scorecard fell in line with the two of the judges' decisions as I gave the final round to Smith on account of his landing slightly more strikes that seemed significant.

Spann seemingly was shocked as the decision was read aloud but remained respectful to Smith and his team despite the tough feelings and trash talk that followed their first fight.

Photograph Credit: Suhaimi Abdullah/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

#3 Erin "Cold Blooded" Blanchfield Def. #4 Taila Santos

Erin Blanchfield has arrived, but not without a massive test. Former flyweight title contender Taila Santos was the latest test for the 24-year-old prospect Blanchfield.

Santos had not fought in over a year since her close title fight loss to former long-reining champion Valentina Shevchenko. Despite this, Santos looked sharp at the beginning of this fight. I even scored round one in her favor, 10-9.

Her wrestling defense seemed to be stifling, her striking power was showcased almost anytime she connected with Blanchfield, and her counterstrikes on her opponent's entries were on time... But Erin Blanchfield is a very talented, well-trained, and unrelenting fighter.

Blanchfield was consistently pushing the pace, chasing takedowns, using knees in the clinch, and overall examining the cardio of her opponent. She also absorbed a fair amount of power shots from Santos, showing fans at home that "Cold Blooded" is just as tough as we believed.

Blanchfield slowly began to take over the fight as time passed. Santos' energy levels faded quickly as Blanchfield kept fighting her fight. "Cold Blooded" took round two with her clinch control time and dictation of where the fight took place.

The story of the third and decisive round was the pressure and cardio of Blanchfield. Her performance in the second half of the fight shows that while her takedowns may not have always been fully effective due to her opponent's defense, she can still find ways to control the fight and implement her game plan to win the fight.

There seems to be nothing left, in terms of competition, for Blanchfield except for the winner of the flyweight title bout between Valentina Shevchenko and Alexa Grasso on September 16th. The young prospect from New Jersey is ready to fight for UFC gold.

Blanchfield accurately predicted the difference in the matchup between herself and Santos earlier this week when she said to the UFC,

"I think she gets tired, I know that's where I can beat her. I have an endless gas tank."

#9 Giga "Ninja" Chikadze Def. #15 Alex "Bruce Leeroy" Caceras

A brisk, enjoyable, and technical striking bout occurred between the Ninja and Bruce Leeroy in Singapore.

Chikadze, coming off of a long layoff that kept him from the octagon, took some time to reacclimate to the pace and timing of an unorthodox and creative striker like Caceras. This time allowed Caceras to take round one by dictating the pace of action and by landing the more significant strikes.

Chikadze seemed at times frustrated by the movement of Caceras but not only was he offput by the free-flowing nature of Caceras' movement, but Caceras was also constantly smiling at Chikadze, which became a big talking point for the broadcast team.

However, as the fight wore on longer, Chikadze could be seen gathering information and slowly getting his range and timing locked into a rhythm. Not only was the Ninja gathering important intel, but he also was able to land more powerful shots throughout the fight. Chikadze did this while managing to stay away from the unpredictable techniques of Caceras. It seemed that Chikadze's punches and strikes really affected Caceras physically when they landed.

Other Notable Results:

Rinya "Hybrid" Nakamura Def. Fernie Garcia

Is there a better nickname for Rinya Nakamura than the hybrid? I do not believe so. Strikes? Vicious and crisp. Cardio? Went the distance in a unanimous decision victory. Ground game? Suffocating top control and world champion level wrestling capabilities.

Rinya Nakamura showcased it all in Singapore. With all due respect, Fernie Garcia was completely overmatched. Garcia looked helpless at times as Nakamura did what he pleased in that octagon. There is some credit due to Garcia for defending against many submissions and absorbing some heavy strikes.

Nakamura came into this fight as the biggest betting favorite on the entire card at -900, and he delivered.

World champion wrestler Rinya Nakamura earned his spot in the UFC in impressive fashion after a 33-second knockout victory over Toshiomi Kazama, who also competed on this card, in the Road to the UFC competition that concluded in February of this year. Before this bout, he had only gone past round one twice in his career.

Photograph Credit:

Waldo "Salsa Boy" Cortes-Acosta Def. Łukasz Brzeski

This fight featured a violent and must-see knockout. Thumping shots from Cortes-Acosta rocked Brzeski, causing him to turn around and try to escape damage. Cortes-Acosta gave chase and knocked his opponent out while he fled. Brzeski fell forward onto his head for another heavy, heavyweight highlight.



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