UFC Saitama: FXX Prelims Results and Recaps

UFC Saitama Ovince St. Preux
Credit: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com

UFC Saitama kicked off its ten-fight card with a four-bout slate on the rarely-used FXX.

The UFC returned to the famous Saitama Super Arena for the first time since September 2015 on Friday. As has become almost customary for UFC events in recent years, the card fans got was not as planned.

2005 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix winner Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was originally scheduled to face Ovince Saint Preux in the main event, but was forced to pull out of the fight with a knee injury. Former UFC title challenger Yushin Okami stepped in to fill the void.

A bout between Naoki Inoue and Jenel Lausa also fell through, and Mizuto Hirota was pulled from the event by the UFC’s medical team after failing to make weight for his bout with Charles Rosa. The canceled scraps left us with a 10-fight card, including four preliminaries airing on FXX.

Of the eight fighters who graced the prelims, two were making their Octagon debuts — Pancrase standouts Daichi Abe and Syuri Kondo. Meanwhile, Alex Morono and Luke Jumeau were building on impressive recent runs. Morono had not tasted defeat since 2014, while Jumeau was last defeated in 2013.

Be sure to check back for a full recap of all the FXX preliminary card action, highlights, and results.

4. Hyun Gyu Lim vs. Daichi Abe

After winning Pancrase’s welterweight title in July, Daichi Abe was making his UFC debut in the show opener. In only his sixth professional bout, Abe faced a man desperate to get back in the win column, Hyun Gyu Lim. With a couple of canceled bouts sandwiched in between defeats to Neil Magny and Mike Perry, “the Ace” had not won since 2014.

Lim pushed forward in search of that win in the first round but was countered effectively often by Abe, who took up residence in the center of the octagon. By the end of the first frame, Lim sported significant swelling around both of his eyes.

After a brief pause for a Lim-on-Abe eye poke in the second round, both men continued to throw. Lim landed a fight-altering overhand right at the midway point, as he consistently found a home for his most effective counter.

It was more of the same in the third, with both fighters looking to pick their opponent off from range. With the final bell approaching and the result in the balance, Abe landed a crisp right hand that sat Lim down. Abe swarmed but had no time to work, with the final bell intervening as Abe drove Lim back to the mat with a throw.

All three judges scored the contest 29-28 for Abe, who made a winning start to his UFC career and improved to 6-0.

Daichi Abe def. Hyun Gyu Lim via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x 3)

3. Shinsho Anzai vs. Luke Jumeau

Shinsho Anzai returned to the octagon for the first time since 2015 looking to build on a third-round stoppage of Roger Zapata. His opponent, New Zealand’s Luke Jumeau, had won seven-straight including a decision victory over Dominique Steele in his UFC debut back in June.

It was Anzai who served as the aggressor in the first round, with Jumeau happy to work off the back foot. It was a strategy that did not serve Jumeau well, allowing Anzai to land with power and have some success with quick flurries and powerful work in the clinch.

Anzai started the second round as quickly as he had the first. Jumeau continued to pick his shots, attempting to assume the role of counter-puncher, but was being given no time to work by Anzai. The Japanese fighter’s pressure paid further dividends at the midpoint of the round, scoring a takedown before spending a couple of minutes smothering Jumeau from half guard.

Yet there were signs throughout that Jumeau might be capable of landing a punch that could end the fight. As the third round began, Jumeau likely needed to find that finish. Anzai’s pace had also slowed significantly, lunging forward for takedowns that Jumeau was able to defend. Jumeau got the better of a number of exchanges late in the fight, but never came close to putting Anzai away.

After three rounds of action, all three judges scored in favor of Anzai, who improved his UFC record to 2-1.

Shinsho Anzai def. Luke Jumeau via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

2. Syuri Kondo vs. Chan Mi Jeon

Inexperienced strawweights clashed in the third preliminary bout. Syuri Kondo and Chan Mi Jeon had only fought in a combined 11 professional mixed martial arts bouts. Kondo’s perfect 5-0 included wins over Kanna Asakura and Kimberly Novaes. Jeon was looking to rebound from a UFC debut defeat against J.J. Aldrich in June.

Kondo worked behind a solid jab throughout the first round as Jeon tried to maintain distance at all costs and strike from the outside. With Jeon on her bike, it was Kondo who landed the more telling blows.

As the fight progressed through the second round Kondo continued to beat her 20-year-old opponent to the punch, landing with power more often. A hard right hand staggered Jeon for a moment, as both women were happy to eat strikes to land their own. Jeon’s nose was bloodied as the second round came to a close.

Kondo’s relentless forward motion continued in the third frame as both fighters threw volume until the final bell. Ultimately, that is probably what prompted two of the three judges to score in the professional wrestler’s favor.

Syuri Kondo def. Chan Mi Jeon via unanimous decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-27)

1. Keita Nakamura vs. Alex Morono

33-year-old veteran Keita Nakamura was making his eighth UFC appearance, split over two runs with the promotion. Since returning to the UFC in 2015 Nakamura had gone 2-2. Alex Morono had won seven straight before his February no contest with Niko Price.

Morono came forward from the opening bell as Nakamura drew his opponent onto him. It was Nakamura who scored the first telling blow, landing a kick to Morono’s midsection that hurt him midway through the first round. A nip-tuck first frame saw both fighter’s corners tell them they thought their man was ahead in between rounds.

Morono continued to cut the cage off and walk Nakamura down in the second round, achieving greater success than he had in the first. Still, Nakamura remained dangerous, picking single shots with enough regularity to keep Morono honest.

A takedown early in the third round appeared to give Nakamura an opportunity to win the fight but Morono’s defensive instincts were sound and he was able to work back to his feet. With a little under two minutes left, a now bloodied Nakamura shot for another takedown. This time Morono tried to lock in a guillotine but was never close to forcing a submission before releasing the hold.

Just like the previous three prelims, this one went to the judges after three rounds of close, competitive action. The judges could not agree on a winner, with Nakamura getting the win by split decision.

Keita Nakamura def. Alex Morono via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)


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