On Saturday, Jan. 4, the UFC hosted UFC Fight Night 34: Saffiedine vs. Lim from the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Singapore. The event marked not only the first UFC fight card of the year, but also the first event on the promotion’s new digital network, UFC Fight Pass.

In the night’s main event, the final Strikeforce welterweight champion, Tarec Saffiedine, made his long-awaited Octagon debut against South Korea’s Hyun Gyu Lim in a welterweight contest. Saffiedine had been out of action for an entire year, following his five-round destruction of veteran Nate Marquardt last January. Lim, meanwhile, looked for his third straight knockout inside the promotion.

Also on the card, Japanese superstar Tatsuya Kawajiri made his highly anticipated debut as he took on undefeated American Sean Soriano in a featherweight contest.

The 10-fight event kicked off on at 6 a.m. ET with six preliminary card bouts, followed by the four-fight main card at 9 a.m ET. The entire card streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.

Saffiedine outlasts Lim

Tarec Saffiedine brutalized Hyun Gyu Lim with leg kicks to win a great fight by unanimous decision.

Lim began the fight stalking Saffiedine. Saffiedine switched stances a couple of times early on. The Belgian fighter started to land some of his signature leg kicks about two minutes in. Lim caught one of those kicks and dropped Saffiedine with a right hand, but he was able to recover quickly and get back to his feet. When they returned to the feet Saffiedine went back to the leg kicks and was countered with a Lim body kick. Lim started to time the kicks better and landed some more power punches as the round came to a close.

Saffiedine threw a front kick that narrowly missed at the start of round two. After some more stalking by Lim the two began to engage in a slug fest. Saffiedine landed the cleaner shots and stumbled the Korean a bit. Lim composed himself and started throwing his jab quite a bit more. Saffiedine landed another solid right hand and the two swung wildly again. Saffiedine looked a bit faster than Lim in those exchanges and was able to get in and out quicker. Saffiedine connected with more leg kicks as he looked to tire out and chop down the much larger fighter. Lim threw a wild spinning back fist at the end of the round, but Saffiedine was able to get out of the way.

Saffiedine switched stances as he touched gloves to begin the third round. Lim landed a nice straight right hand and leg kick combination. Saffiedine opened up even more with his feet and threw a couple of head kicks. Saffiedine mixed it up and took the fight to the ground, but Lim immediately went for a leg lock submission. Saffiedine defended and the fight went back to the feet. Saffiedine threw more of those brutal leg kicks to the lead leg of Lim and was able to drop him with the kicks. Lim tried to fire back with some up kicks, but Saffiedine kept it on the ground and went into Lim’s half guard. There wasn’t much action on the ground so the referee stood the two up. Saffiedine threw another leg kick and buckled Lim once again. Saffiedine began to celebrate, but the ref hadn’t stopped the fight yet and the round ended.

Lim knew he didn’t have much left on that leg and came out swinging to begin the fourth round. He landed some nice punches and knees, but he could not even put any weight on that leg. Lim went back against the cage possibly to help him stand. Saffiedine then dropped him with a flying knee. Lim was still aware and Saffiedine just jumped into the guard. Saffiedine looked like he might have a choke locked in, but Lim defended. Saffiedine used that scramble to advance to the mount. He looked like he was setting up an arm triangle choke, but he let it go and threw some more strikes. Both fighters looked exhausted and kind of rode out the rest of the round.

Lim showed even more heart to begin the final round. He connected with more punches and knees including a nice uppercut. Saffiedine was exhausted, but every time he connected with one of those leg kicks Lim was bending over clutching his leg. Saffiedine just didn’t put it together to finish Lim, so Lim just kept moving forward. Lim landed a nice knee to the body that got Saffiedine to back off more. Saffiedine landed a right headkick, but Lim just screamed at Saffiedine in return. Lim absolutely went nuts in the final minute and had Saffiedine on wobbly legs in the final seconds, but he wasn’t able to get the finish.

“Crusher” turns out the lights on Soriano

Tatsuya Kawajiri overcame a tough first few minutes and submitted Sean Soriano early in the second round.

Soriano landed a solid leg kick and knee to the body very early on in this one. Kawajiri quickly went for takedowns, but Soriano was able to defend three attempts in the first minute of the fight. Soriano connected with another nice knee to the body after defending the third takedown. Soriano landed another nice leg kick but this time Kawajiri used it to get hold of Soriano and after eating some punishment; he was able to earn the takedown. Soriano scrambled multiple times, but Kawajiri was able to maintain control and take Soriano’s back. The Japanese fighter instantly started looking for a rear-naked choke. Kawajiri locked in a body triangle that made it much harder for Soriano to get out of the bad position. Kawajiri landed some viscous punched, but Soriano survived the round.

Soriano looked like he had a takedown but the veteran, Kawajiri, reversed and took Soriano’s back once again. This time he got the rear-naked choke. The referee did not see Soriano tap and he ended up going to sleep.

Kunimoto claims victory after Dutra disqualified

Kiichi Kunimoto won his UFC debut by disqualification when he wasn’t able to continue after illegal elbows form Luiz Dutra.

Dutra threw the first big strike of the fight, but he missed with an overhand left. Kunimoto clinched with the Brazilian and tried to get the fight to the ground. Dutra stayed upright and was able to break away and get back to the center of the cage. Dutra began throwing a nice jab to the body and Kunimoto countered with leg kicks. Dutra then landed a decent right hook to the body. Kunimoto still tried to go for leg kicks and a takedown. Dutra dropped Kunimoto with elbows as he went for the takedown. The elbows didn’t look to be illegal imediately, but the ref paused the action. The replay showed that at least one of the elbows landed to the back of the head. Kunimoto could not continue and the referee called it a disqualification.

Kang finishes Shimizu

Kyung Ho Kang overcame a two-point deduction and dominated Shunichi Shimizu en route to a third-round submission.

Kang started off getting the better of the striking game against the shorter fighter. Shimizu ate a big knee as he tried to get the fight to the ground. Once Shimizu was down he attempted to grab a leg to go for a knee bar. Kang defended and ended up in the mount and went for a triangle choke. He transferred from that triangle to an armbar and then back to the choke. Shimizu was defending the triangle when he was opened up by multiple twelve-to-six elbows. The ref immediately halted the action and ultimately took two points away from Kang. The two went back and forth a bit once the fight returned to the feet for the remainder of the round.

Kang opened up going for some leg kicks early in the second round. Shimizu grabbed one of those leg kicks and tried to go for a single leg takedown. Kang defended the takedown by landing some nice elbows to the side of Shimizu’s head. The fight ended up going to the ground with Kang on top. He advanced to the mount and began opening up with some elbows. Shimizu just ate the elbows and was eventually able to scramble and end up on top. It was brief as Kang got to his feet and took Shimizu right back down. Kang landed elbows and punches from inside the guard to end the round.

Shimizu got a takedown early in the final round, but Kang immediately reversed and ended up on top. Just as he did at the end of the second, Kang peppered Shimizu with elbows from inside the guard. This pattern continued for the majority of the round with Kang going for the finish. Kang was ultimately able to advance to the mount where after landing multiple elbows; he locked in an arm-triangle choke that ended the fight.

Tarec Saffiedine def. Hyun Gyu Lim by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Sean Soriano by technical submission (rear-naked choke). Round 2, 0:50
Kiichi Kunimoto def. Luiz Dutra by disqualification (illegal elbows). Round 1, 2:57
Kyung Ho Kang def. Shunichi Shimizu by submission (arm-triangle). Round 3, 3:53
Max Holloway def. Will Chope by TKO (punches). Round 2, 2:27
Katsunori Kikuno def. Quinn Mulhern by unanimous decision (30-27×3)
Royston Wee def. Dave Galera by unanimous decision (30-26×3)
Maribek Taisumov def. Bang Tae Hyun by unanimous decision (30-27×3)
Dustin Kimura def. Jon Delos Reyes by submission (armbar). Round 1, 2:13
Russell Doane def. Leandro Issa by technical submission (triangle choke). Round 2, 4:59

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.