The UFC will expand the list of countries it has visited next Saturday, when the Octagon sets up in Seoul, South Korea. The event features as many connections to the country as possible, including main-eventer Benson Henderson, whose mother is Korean. Yoshihiro Akiyama is also of Korean descent, and the card also includes two fighters named Dong Hyun Kim and prospect Doo Ho Choi. The card has already gone through significant change at the top. Henderson was originally set to face Thiago Alves, but the Brazilian was forced out of the fight with a broken rib. Jorge Masvidal — who was originally scheduled to face Dong Hyun Kim — stepped in to the main event, and Dominic Waters was inserted on late notice to face Kim. Mirko ‘CroCop’ Filipovic was supposed to compete in the co-main event as well, but an injury (and subsequent failed drug test) forced him out of the bout and into retirement. Hyun Gyu Lim was also injured prior to the event and forced out of his fight with Dominique Steele, which opened the door for the second Dong Hyun Kim to make his way onto the card. Due to all the changes, the only line currently released for the card is the main card bout between Akiyama and Alberto Mina. The veteran Akiyama is a -185 favorite over the undefeated Mina (+165). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas released the remaining lines for UFC Fight Night 79 today at Several Bookmakers. Check them out: ——————– MAIN CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 8am ET)
——————– PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 5am ET)
——————– Brad’s Analysis: I liked Henderson in his originally scheduled fight, and it’s hard not to like him even more with Masvidal the opponent. Henderson is one of the most consistent fighters in the UFC, and Masvidal, while immensely talented, is one of the most offensively anemic fighters in whatever division he decides to compete in. Masvidal’s last performance had to be the nail in the coffin of anyone who had high hopes for him. Yes, he won, but he showed up looking like a guy who moved up a weight class because he didn’t want to train hard enough to get his weight down. If he comes into this fight at anything less than 100%, Henderson will make his life miserable for 25 minutes. Masvidal is good defensively in all aspects, so I’d be surprised if we see a finish due to anything other than attrition and cardio, but I don’t expect him to have many moments in this bout. Dominic Waters was barely scraping past opponents on the regional circuit using his wrestling, and now he faces one of the best, and biggest, grapplers in the UFC’s welterweight division. That’s not a great recipe. Waters has never been finished, and I’m not expecting this to be the first time we see it, but I’d be far more inclined to play the ‘Stun Gun’ points handicap than a decision prop here in case the jump in competition is simply too much for Waters to deal with. Perhaps the most enticing bout remaining on the main card is the featherweight battle between prospect Doo Ho Choi and Sam Sicilia. Since losing his third pro bout (by split decision), Choi has racked up ten straight wins, with eight coming via TKO. He carries immense power for the division, and knows how to deliver it. Sicilia has won two fights in a row for the first time in his nine-fight UFC career, but he always seems to take the most difficult route to each victory. If he decides to strike with Choi (or is forced to), I don’t think he’ll find much success, and that winning streak will come to a screeching halt, and I think that’s the likeliest scenario. A fight that could see some proverbial ‘bungalows’ being thrown, Dongi Yang and Jake Collier has all the makings of something that may not be technical, but should be fun. Collier has been something of a disappointment since coming into the UFC, as he is one judges scorecard away from being 0-2 despite some very favorable matchups. Yang was cut from the UFC after a 1-3 run dating from 2010-2012, but was brought back for this card following two wins (and a two year break between fights), little more than a durable brawler, he seems like a perfect matchup for Collier to look as impressive as people have expected him to. Yui Chul Nam should probably be 2-0 in the UFC, but fell on the wrong side of the judging fence earlier this year. I think this is a good matchup for him though. Mike de la Torre surprised everyone in his UFC debut, taking Mark Bocek to the brink in a split decision loss, but that seems to be his ceiling. He’s got a win over Tiago Trator since then, but two quick losses against fighters who were able to pressure him, which is exactly what Nam will look to do. Joe Silva, you’ve outdone yourself with Bang/Kuntz. I mean, the Superman/Doomsday matchmaking was a thing of beauty, but this may be your opus. The fight itself, I don’t really care about. Leo Kuntz isn’t really UFC caliber, and Bang isn’t much higher on the totem pole, but I do like the Korean in this matchup. I think he’ll force Kuntz to stay on his feet, and we saw how uncomfortable Kuntz was there in his UFC debut. Nothing scientific here, just Bang, banging away. On Kuntz. (Insert Childish-Giggle Emoji) Ham/Casey should be a fun fight, in the sense that they’ll both be able to hit each other a bunch without too much threat of a finish. I’ll give Casey the slight edge due to her significant size advantage (Ham should really be in Invicta at 105), and superior grappling skills, but this isn’t a fight I’m looking to bet. Yao’s your boy. Or at least he should be. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make him a good fighter, and even a 36-year-old with only two pro fights like Freddy Serrano should be able to take him down at will (even Royston Wee accomplished that). Yao is tough, and may find a bit of success as Serrano tires, but those will be the only positives for him in this fight. TUF China winner Ning Guangyou will be kicking off the card, looking to move to 3-0 in the UFC against TUF Latin America vet Marco Beltran. This will be the first time Beltran has traveled outside of Mexico for a fight, and the trip to Asia is not a forgiving one. I think the TUF China winner takes this based on workrate.