MMA-in-Asia presents live updates, results and photos of the UFC’s historic first card in China and Southeast Asia, UFC Macao: Franklin versus Le, FUEL TV 6.
UFC MACAO – Franklin versus Le
November 10, 2012
Venetian Cotai Arena
The UFC’s first venture into Southeast Asia opens with an air of hurried excitement.The lobby is packed with line after line of people eagerly waiting to get inside. Even the media check in table is smashed by about 200 members of the press. The crowd reaches capacity at the stadium layout of about 7 – 8,000 fans almost as soon as the doors to the venue open. Donnie Yen sits cage side along with fellow Hong Kong action star Daniel Wu, and Hong Kong model Jessica C gets her fair share of attention as the guest round girl.
The atmosphere is markedly different from an Asian MMA promotion. There is no pomp and circumstance, no smoke and lasers, no fireworks and epic back story videos, only MMA in a cage with a very familiar production pattern of the juggernaut that is the UFC. The cage lighting is amazing and the arena lighting maximizes the visual effect of a packed stadium. The sound quality of the venue is such that corners can be heard coaching and the random enthusiastic Brazilian can be heard word for word in the upper bleachers. The audio quality from the entrances to the cage announcements by Bruce Buffer are spot on.
The fight-based production is a far cry from what the average local attendee expects out of an event, where fancy costumes and incredible staging are the norm, and coupled with introducing a relatively new sport to the region, the UFC knows it has a lot of education to do in regards to expanding its brand in Asia. Perhaps that’s the one area that fell short in this first run at the local market, although Mark Fischer has stated that it will take 3-5 years to grow brand recognition. Macau is a destination city for China and Asia travelers seeking the high life, and a quick weekend escape for neighboring Hong Kong, but the local press was quite sparse in the month leading up to the event. The crowd was heavy in favor of expats from all over China, and MMA aficionados from all over Asia – those educated fans who don’t need to be coaxed into attending a relatively new sport to the region. It will be interesting to garner feedback over the coming few weeks to see what their footprint actually is.
1 – Riki Fukuda (18 – 6 – 0) versus Tom DeBlass (7 – 1 – 0)
Riki has taken his camp full time at AKA for this event. His credentials go a long ways back to championships in wrestling prior to his MMA career, and after a car accident sidelined him for a year in 2011, he’s looking to get back into the positive win column with the UFC. Tom counts Frankie Edgar among his teammates and is a black belt under Ricardo Almeida – his grappling background is virtually untouchable. He’s dropping a weight class for this fight and needs to prove his skill set is good enough to be at this level. Both fighters have gone the distance in each of their UFC fights.
Tom comes out with some nice kicks, but Riki goes for the TD and gets it to the ground twice in the first round. After three rounds of toe to to, with Riki arguably getting the better of the exchanges, and a TD in the final, the judges have it in favor of Fukuda.
Riki Fukuda defeats Tom DeBlass by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
2 – John Lineker (19 – 6 – 0) versus Yasuhiro Urushitani (19 – 5 – 6)
Yasuhiro has been among the top in his weight class in a career that spans over a decade. Although he has a huge amount of his wins by decision, his recent repertoire sees a TKO and KO showing that he’s still climbing. His entry into the UFC against Joseph Benavidez saw that stopped with an 11 second KO. He’s facing John Lineker, another new entrant to the UFC with a freshman loss. While their records look similar in the numbers and they are both strikers, Yasuhiro is a technician and has spent time in the cage in Japan, and John likes to throw leather. He’s also 14 years younger. This will be a fun fight.
John gets Yauhiro’s number big time in the final round, eliminating all of his quick southpaw footwork.
John Lineker defeats Yasuhiro Urushitani via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
3 – Alex Caceres (7 – 5 – 0) versus Motonobu Tezuka (19 – 4 – 4)
Alex Caceres was originally set to face Kang KyungHo until the latter had a training accident, so Motonobu is set to make his UFC debut. Alex is an entertaining fighter from the Ultimate Fighter, and Motonobu is very hungry to show that as the top bantamweight contender in Pancrase, he’s good enough for the cage. This should be a fast-paced and exciting fight.
Alex Caceres defeats Motonobu Tezuka via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-27)
4 – Takeya Mizugak versus Jeff Hougland (10 – 5 – 0)
Takeya won two Fight of the Night honors in WEC, and is one of the new breed of Japanese fighters that has aimed for international competition rather than domestic. Jeff has reinvented himself in the middle of his MMA career, and is coming into the fight with a strong grappling background. Someone is going to assert their will early in the game on this one.
Takeya Mizugaki defeats Jeff Hougland via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-25, 30-27)
5 – Tiequan Zhang (15 – 3 – 0) versus Jon Tuck (6 – 0 – 0)
Hometown hero TieQuan is known for his guillotine, and is China’s first brown belt. He’s got a country behind him going into this fight, and has finished up his camp by bringing in a black belt from Brazil. Jon gets his inaugural debut in the UFC as a decorated grappler as well, and got a taste of the competition during a run in TUF. He’s got a height advantage and some strong striking skills. This one will send the China-based audience into hysterics.
Jon Tuck defeats Tiequan Zhang via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
6 – Takanori Gomi (33 – 8 – 0) versus Mac Danzig (21 – 9 – 1)
Gomi is, well, Gomi. The consummate veteran can’t be counted out yet. He’s got a complete skill set but in his time with the UFC has thrown caution to the wind on more than one occasion. Mac has faced international competition before and has a a game plan to take down and go for submissions. This will be a nail-biter for more than one reason.
Takanori Gomi defeats Mac Danzig via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
7 – Dong Hyun Kim (15 – 2 – 1) versus Paulo Thiago (14 – 4 – 0)
DongHyun trains out of Team MAD, one of the best teams in Korea, and did some of his fight camp with bigger guys in Japan. His impressive judo and likes to play inside. Paulo is a BJJ black belt with an amazing set of rocks for fists. Stylistically, these are two very different fighters and both very hungry to rise in the top notch, stacked welterweight division. This could be the most brutal fight of the night.
Dong Hyun Kim defeats Paulo Thiago via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
8 – Thiago Silva (14 – 3 – 0) versus Stanislav Nedkov (12 – 0 – 0)
Thiago has fought the best of the best in the LHW division of the UFC. Stanislav is coming back from a year’s hiatus, but also has shown an ability to take punches before delivering a bomb. Someone is going to sleep by double tap.
Thiago Silva def. Stanislav Nedkov via Submission (Arm Triangle), Round 3 (1:45)
9 – Rich Franklin (29 – 6 – 0) versus Cung Le (8 – 2 – 0)
Rich needs no introduction as the former Middleweight Champion who has a career chock full of bouts with almost every major international title-holder. Cung is a champion across multiple disciplines throughout his entire life, and his MMA pedigree has faced him against the top talent in the division as well. Both guys have incredible stand up, but if one unknown has to be given, it’s Cung’s ground work. Watching what game plan these two bring into the Octagon will make for a very technical and entertaining fight.
Official Result: Cung Le def. Rich Franklin via 1st Round KO (2:17)