UFC Fight Night 79 Seoul: A tale of musical chairs

UFC Fight Night 79 - Benson Henderson vs Jorge Masvidal
UFC Fight Night 79 – Benson Henderson vs Jorge Masvidal

UFC Fight Night 79 will go down this Saturday, 28 November, in the technologically advanced city of Seoul, South Korea.

The event started off as a phenomenal card and then injuries to Cro Cop, Thiago Alves and Lim Hyun-Gyu forced a reshuffled the lineup.

When the UFC announced its first-ever event in Korea would be led by Pride FC legend Mirko “Cro Cop” fans went nuts.

Throw in the fact that former WEC & UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson would fae Thiago Alves and that was just icing on top of an already tasty looking cake.

In the world of mixed martial arts, however, nothing is a sure thing.

Crop Cop injured

The first big blow happened on 9 November when Cro Cop (31-11-2) retired and pulled out of the co-main event bout against Anthony Hamilton.

 Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic
MMA legend: Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic.

He said on his website that he tried therapy, injections of blood plasma and various cocktails of drugs which included human growth hormone (HGH), but nothing seem to work.

The use of HGH is not permitted under the UFC anti-doping policy which led to a provisional suspension by the promotion and then later changed to a two-year suspension by USADA, who administers all drug-testing and results supervision for the UFC.

Unfortunately, there was no replacement found and the co-headlining contest was scrapped from the event.

A few days later, reports surfaced that Thiago Alves (21-10) was forced out of the main event bout against Henderson because of a rib injury sustained in training leading up to the fight.

Then with little over a week until fight night, welterweight brawler Lim Hyun-Gyu (13-5-1) severely injured his ankle in one of his last training sessions. He had tests done but the doctor advised him not to go on with the fight.

Therefore, Lim was removed from the card and Dominique Steele was left hanging without an opponent.

In a span of a few weeks UFC Seoul went from being completely stacked to becoming a salvage project for the UFC. Without much time left for the promotion to save this disaster, they played a game of musical chairs.

No shot for Stun Gun

Jorge Masvidal (29-9), who was originally slated to fight “Stun Gun” Kim Dong-Hyun earlier in the night, was moved up to the main event slot against Benson Henderson. These two were supposed to fight at UFC Fight Night 63 but Henderson took a bout on short notice and submitted Brandon Thatch at UFC Fight Night 60. Both these combatants recently moved up to welterweight and finished their adversaries in exciting fashion.

UFC in Korea: Kim Dong-Hyun and Benson Henderson. Photo: Matt Eaton.

This left “Stun Gun” without anyone to fight so the UFC reached out to TUF 16 alum Dom Waters (9-3) to come in on short notice. Since the Korean is not going to miss out on the chance to perform in his country, he took on any opponent they could find.

This is a win-win situation for Waters in that he has nothing to lose by taking on a top ten welterweight. On the other hand, “Stun Gun” is risking a lot by basically fighting an unknown.

These two welterweights will now be set to compete in the co-main event slot replacing Mirko “Cro Cop” and Anthony Hamilton.

That leaves Dominique Steele (13-6) as the only fighter needing someone to step into the cage with. Luckily, there was a guy training with “Stun Gun” the whole time named “Maestro” Kim Dong-Hyun (13-6-3).

“Maestro” trains at Team MAD with “Stun Gun” but is younger and mostly fights at lightweight. He became the TOP FC LW champion just last August by running through the competition in the LW Grand Prix.

This must of caught the eye of the UFC and they signed him to a four-fight deal starting with a welterweight bout against Steele.

This is also a big night for other Koreans such as Ham Seo-Hee, Choi Doo-Ho, Bang Tae-Hyun, Nam Yui-Chul, Yang Dongi and Choo Sung-Hoon who are ready to go out and put on a show for their family and friends in the motherland.

All in all, the finalized card looks to appease the fans of Korea but looking back at the original line-up some are disappointed.

UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs Masvidal

Welterweight Main Event
Benson Henderson vs Jorge Masvidal

Welterweight Co-Main Event
“Stun Gun” Kim Dong-Hyun vs Dominic Waters

Welterweight Match
Choo Sung-Hoon vs Alberto Mina

Featherweight Match
Choi Doo-ho vs Sam Sicilia

Preliminary Card

Welterweight Match
Kim Dong-Hyun vs Dominique Steele

Featherweight Match
Nam Yui-Chul vs Mike De La Torres

Bang Tae-Hyun vs Leo Kuntz

Yang Dongi vs Jake Collier

Women’s Strawweight
Ham Seo-Hee vs Cortney Casey-Sanchez

Fredy Serrano vs Yao Zhikui

Marco Antonio Beltran vs Ning Guangyou