This weekend, the UFC returns to Singapore for the second time in the promotion’s history. UFC Fight Night 111 features everything from regional talent to three former champions. The headliner is a women’s bantamweight showdown between Holly Holm and Bethe Correia. These two ladies vie for relevancy in the division Holm once ruled.
Former multi-division world boxing champion Holm landed the kick heard around the world when she knocked out Ronda Rousey in November 2015 to become the second-ever UFC women’s bantamweight champ. Since then, she has gone on a three-fight skid. Now, she is looking to get back to her winning ways. However, stopping Correia is no easy task.
After going 3-0 to kick off her UFC career, Correia went 1-2-1 in her last four fights. A win over Holm should give the Brazilian a nice boost, potentially into the top 10. Holm is one of her biggest opponents to date, though, which puts Correia in a tough position. Both women are most proficient in the striking department, which should make for a fantastic fight.
Rounding out the main card, veteran and former UFC champ Andrei Arlovski faces off against former M-1 champ Marcin Tybura, Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim welcomes former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler Colby Covington to Asia for the second time in his UFC career, and former UFC lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos makes the jump to welterweight and takes on former Strikeforce titleholder Tarec Saffiedine. The preliminary card features a good mix of veterans and promotional newcomers covering seven different weight classes.
The entire card will air on UFC Fight Pass, with the prelims kicking off at 4:45 a.m. ET and the main card starting at 8 a.m. ET. Combat Press writers Bryan Henderson and Dan Kuhl break down the card in this edition of Toe-to-Toe.
Holly Holm has lost three straight fights across two weight classes. Can she beat Bethe Correia and get back on track to title contention?
Henderson: Title contention could be a big ask. Holm’s secret Achilles’ heel is no longer much of a secret. Bring the right game plan to the cage — the one Miesha Tate revealed and Valentina Shevchenko and Germaine de Randamie co-opted — and Holm is not so difficult to beat.
This doesn’t mean Correia’s facing a cake walk, though. The Brazilian doesn’t carry the range of de Randamie, the striking and grappling of Shevchenko, or the wrestling of Tate. Correia has to rely on a pressing clinch game, but Holm might have an easier time countering this strategy with her own boxing.
Holm’s skid might finally come to an end against Correia, but she faces a long climb back into the contender mix at bantamweight. Holm barely edged Raquel Pennington the first time the pair met, and she’s likely to have to go through an improved Pennington to get back into the title picture. There’s also Shevchenko, plus the tough grinding style of Julianna Pena. If Rousey does opt to stay in the fight game, the UFC might even want Holm to rematch the woman she famously dethroned. If Holm somehow manages to get past Correia and several of these opponents, then she might line up another title shot. Don’t count on it, though.
Kuhl: I don’t want to be all doom and gloom on Holm, but when she started to fall, she fell hard. Three losses in a row is never a good thing, even if it was in two weight classes.
The once invincible striker has indeed been exposed, and she also has a lot of miles on her chassis. She entered MMA after an impressive 38-fight pro-boxing career. Holm turns 36 in the fall, and she’s too far down the bantamweight ladder for any immediate title shot stemming from a win over Correia, who’s not even in the top 10. That means she could be at least a year or more away from even getting a sniff at the belt.
That all being said, I do believe she will beat Correia. After the Brazilian beat three women who aren’t even in the UFC anymore, it became obvious that Correia’s bark was a lot nastier than her bite. In her last four fights, she got knocked out by Rousey, lost and won back-to-back split decisions, and went to a draw against Marion Reneau a few months ago in Brazil. Correia is coming in at a significant size disadvantage, and her best attribute is her striking, which will not hold a candle to Holm’s own striking.
Holm takes this one by knockout to get back in the win column, but I do not see a title shot in her future.
Marcin Tybura was a stud heavyweight prospect before he arrived in the UFC and dropped his Octagon debut to Timothy Johnson. Since then, he’s delivered two knockout finishes. Is Tybura still a future UFC champion, or is he a bust?
Kuhl: Tybura had one hiccup in his decision loss in the UFC, and his only other loss was a doctor’s stoppage in a non-title M-1 bout, so I would never pull faith out of him based solely on those two events. He came back from his UFC debut with back-to-back knockouts of Viktor Pesta and Luis Henrique, and he has the ability to win anywhere the fight goes. It might be a little early to call him a future UFC champ, but he’s definitely not a bust yet, either. His match-up with Andrei Arlovski will serve as a good test of how he can handle a high-profile opponent.
It’s no secret that Arlovski’s career is almost over, but that’s not taking anything away from the former UFC champion at all. However, the guy has been in 40 professional fights — that we know of — and checks in at 38 years old. While he did re-enter the UFC a few years ago on a hot streak, he earned a questionable decision win over Frank Mir and followed it up with four stoppage losses in a row. Arlovski is just not who he used to be, and Tybura is coming to make a serious statement in the division.
Again, I’m not going to call Tybura a future champ yet, but a win over Arlovski should get Tybura a spot in the top 10. I do believe he will stop the former champion by knockout before the midpoint of the fight.
Henderson: The 31-year-old Tybura definitely has the history to support the idea that he becomes a contender, at the very least. On his way to the UFC, he might have lost to Stephan Puetz, but he notched wins against the likes of Konstantin Gluhov, Maro Perak, Damian Grabowski and Denis Smoldarev. The Polish fighter also racked up five wins by knockout and six by submission. He’s a finisher who, as my colleague noted, can win fights anywhere.
Tybura’s stumble came in a three-round decision in his Octagon debut. As every UFC commentator loves to note, the Octagon jitters are real, y’all. After falling on the scorecards, Tybura did resume his habit of scoring knockouts and picked up some great highlights for his reel. Arlovski could finally provide the up-and-comer with a true signature win, though.
One thing working in Tybura’s favor is Arlovski’s fragile chin. The Russian has suffered 14 career losses, and 10 of those defeats ended with Arlovski staring up at the lights. Over his last four contests, the former UFC titleholder has been finished via strikes in 54 seconds by current champ Stipe Miocic, destroyed by Alistair Overeem, submitted by Josh Barnett and nearly killed by Francis Ngannou in just 92 seconds. Tybura just has to draw Arloski into stand-up exchanges and then wait for the sambo specialist to start moving straight back while presenting a bullseye on his chin. If Tybura hits the mark, it’ll be nighty-night, “Pitbull.”
Frank Camacho, Naoki Inoue, Carls John de Tomas, Ji Yeon Kim and Rolando Dy — do we need to know these names?
Henderson: While several of these fighters are solid prospects, one name stands head and shoulders above the rest, and he’ll just barely be 20 years old — his birthday is June 14 — when he makes his Octagon debut.
Naoki Inoue’s last name is not an uncommon one in Japan, but this fighter shares more than just a name with a more well-known mixed martial artist. Naoki is the brother of Invicta star Mizuki Inoue. Naoki, much like his sister, has been fighting since an early age. The Hakushinkai Karate product was just 16 when he made his pro debut in February 2014 with a submission win over fellow rookie Gaku Sakamoto. His next stop was the one-night Deep 2014 Flyweight Future King Tournament, in which Inoue again claimed victory with a first-round submission finish of his opponent. He has gone on to add eight more wins to his resume, including five more submission finishes. He doesn’t have the name recognition of his sister, but he’s still extremely young. Give it time. He’ll have to keep up an unblemished record, too, but that’s entirely possible. He enters the UFC fresh off a majority decision victory over Japanese veteran Tomohiro Adaniya and fights fellow UFC newcomer de Tomas.
The Filipino fighter de Tomas is just 20 himself, and he, too, remains undefeated. He’s been a URCC mainstay his entire career, but his most notable wins have come against mediocre fighters like Hideo Morikawa and Alvin Ramirez. The “Golden Boy” could be a solid contributor in the future of the UFC’s flyweight division, but he’s going to have to overcome an initial setback, likely by submission, handed to him by Inoue.
The 28-year-old Camacho hasn’t had an official UFC fight yet, but he did appear on the 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he lost to Neil Magny in his lone fight. Camacho is a veteran fighter, but he’s had several stumbles on the Pacific region circuit, including a defeat at the hands of UFC veteran Luigi Fioravanti. He can’t be counted out against Jingliang Li, but it’s doubtful that the PXC vet can string together more than a couple of initial wins under the UFC banner.
Dy, a 25-year-old Filipino fighter, is the most likely one-and-done opponent. He’s fighting Alex Caceres, who has lost two straight, but this really feels like the UFC providing Caceres with an easily winnable fight.
Kim is an undefeated bantamweight fighter, but she is jumping into a deep women’s division in the UFC. On the plus side, she does holds victories over the likes of Takayo Hashi and Jin Tang. She’s also fought to a draw against both Hashi and Shizuka Sugiyama. Yet, history shows that Asian fighters struggle to get a foothold in the UFC. Kim will likely get a couple of fights before the UFC opts to jettison her. The 27-year-old will find more success in promotions like Road FC and Deep than she will under the UFC banner.
Kuhl: In case anyone is wondering, Naoki Inoue is not related to the legendary submission artist Enson Inoue, who fought guys like Randy Couture and Frank Shamrock back in the 90s. However, the young prospect has a chance to be a legend of his own. Many thought that his sister would have actually been signed to the UFC before he was, but that will likely come in due time. Naoki is an undefeated flyweight, and, while that division is not exactly deep, it is chock-full of killers, and he will fit right in. As a karate fighter with a sick submission game, he is definitely the one to watch, as my colleague suggested.
I don’t really have much to add regarding de Tomas and Camacho, but I have a little more faith in Dy. This guy may be coming mostly off the regional circuit, but he’s a young kickboxer who is only giving up one inch in height. Nobody has stopped him since his second pro fight, which took place over five years ago. He is likely getting fed to the wolves against Caceres, true, but being an extreme underdog with an opportunity of a lifetime is not a terrible place to be. I’m not saying he will win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts on a good show.
I like Kim’s chances this weekend, too. She is not only the top-ranked female fighter coming out of South Korea, but her jiu-jitsu game is extremely tight. With an opponent who is only 22 years old and has her best days on the ground, Kim is in a position to win this one, most likely by submission. She does have the ability to make some waves in the UFC.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Kuhl: I’m looking forward to the fight between Takanori Gomi and Jon Tuck.
Both men are on the skids after dropping their most recent fights, and both badly need a win to maintain any relevance. Tuck has a significant size advantage, but both of these guys have earned performance-bonus accolades, and both have the ability to finish the fight anywhere. Tuck is still early in his career, whereas Gomi is a hardcore, grisled vet. This should be an exciting one to watch.
Henderson: The flyweight prelim between Carls John de Tomas and Naoki Inoue.
I won’t rehash what we’ve already discussed in the previous question. What I will say is that I’m a sucker for flyweights, and both this face-off between UFC newcomers and the clash between down-on-their-luck 125ers Justin Scoggins and Yuta Sasaki appeal to me, albeit for different reasons. Scoggins and Sasaki have impressive backgrounds, but they’ve suffered far too many losses inside the Octagon. Their fight is about surviving. They’ll be out to prove they belong inside the Octagon. However, even more exciting is that UFC fans will get an introduction to the undefeated Inoue and de Tomas. These guys should put on an entertaining show and provide us with a glimpse into the future of their division.
Pair this card with…
Henderson: An early bedtime or an all-nighter. This card starts at freakin’ 4:45 a.m. ET! If you’re a dedicated UFC viewer, you need to get your sleep or just commit to staying up all night. The other (smart) option is to just watch this on Saturday evening. It’s on UFC Fight Pass, and the card should be available for viewing as a replay by the time sane people are ready for some face-punching.
Kuhl: Would it be too cliché to say coffee? Yes, it would, but I’m saying it, nonetheless. I’m not talking Maxwell House or some burnt-up Starbucks blend, either. A nice pot of non-counterfeit Jamaican Blue Mountain, like Wallenford or Jablum, sounds spectacular to go with this event. Of course, make sure you have plenty of late-night/early-morning snacks as well. A batch of mini quiches would really hit the spot.
|Fight||Henderson’s Pick||Kuhl’s Pick|
|Main Card (UFC Fight Pass, 8 a.m. ET)|
|Women’s BW: Holly Holm vs. Bethe Correia||Holm||Holm|
|HW: Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcin Tybura||Tybura||Tybura|
|WW: Dong Hyun Kim vs. Colby Covington||Kim||Kim|
|WW: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Tarec Saffiedine||Saffiedine||dos Anjos|
|Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass, 4:45 a.m. ET)|
|LW: Takanori Gomi vs. Jon Tuck||Tuck||Tuck|
|HW: Walt Harris vs. Cyril Asker||Harris||Harris|
|FlyW: Yuta Sasaki vs. Justin Scoggins||Sasaki||Scoggins|
|WW: Jingliang Li vs. Frank Camacho||Li||Li|
|BW: Kwan Ho Kwak vs. Russell Doane||Kwak||Kwak|
|FlyW: Carls John de Tomas vs. Naoki Inoue||Inoue||Inoue|
|Women’s BW: Ji Yeon Kim vs. Lucie Pudilová||Pudilová||Kim|
|FW: Alex Caceres vs. Rolando Dy||Caceres||Caceres|