The co-main event for UFC Fight Night 79 is an underwhelming welterweight matchup between #7 ranked Dong Hyun Kim and Dominic Waters. Waters is taking this fight on short notice as a replacement for Jorge Masvidal, who moved up to fight Benson Henderson in the main event when Thiago Alves had to withdraw from the fight due to injury. Kim’s last fight was a submission victory over veteran Josh Burkman in May, while Waters lost a short-notice decision to George Sullivan in his UFC debut this past July. Dong Hyun Kim (20-3-1 (1 NC) MMA, 11-3 (1 NC) UFC, -700 favorite) The 34-year old is a longtime UFC veteran that has been a constant presence at the top of the welterweight division. The judoka has won five of his last six fights, with his only blemish in that span being an August 2014 knockout loss to top current contender Tyron Woodley. While he was once known for employing a fighting style that was not exactly fan-friendly, he has changed that in recent years and now takes many more risks in the cage. That has led to him finishing his last three wins, including two vicious knockouts over Erick Silva and John Hathaway. Kim owns notable wins over Matt Brown, Nate Diaz, Silva, T.J. Grant, and Paulo Thiago. A native of South Korea, Kim is known for his excellent takedowns and top control, which are the staples of his game. The expert judo player likes to initiate clinches, where he can use trips, throws, and tosses to get his opponents to the mat. From top position Kim is absolutely suffocating. He passes well when he wants to, throws heavy ground and pound, and has a good arsenal of chokes at his disposal. There is little doubt that he is one of the strongest fighters in the welterweight division. His strength and grappling game often wear his opponents out over time, allowing him to earn dominant decisions or late finishes. Further, Kim possesses a great full mount and excels at taking the back. Conditioning has been an issue at times for Kim, but he is usually able to sustain a high pace. The South Korean’s striking attack is remarkably different than it was a few years ago. He is now much more aggressive on the feet, which also opens up holes for him to score key takedowns. Constant forward pressure, wild hooks and straight lefts are now common strikes in his arsenal. However, being that reckless while striking can leave himself open to hard counter attacks. Take his fight against Woodley for example. He threw a wild spinning backfist with no setup and got caught by a big right hand by Woodley, who hits like a truck. Kim was not as aggressive in his next fight against Burkman, as he went back to his grappling roots and secured a late submission victory. Dominic Waters (9-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC, +500 underdog) The UFC has certainly not done Waters any favors with their matchmaking for him thus far. They signed him as a short-notice replacement in July to take on tough veteran George Sullivan. Sullivan was a difficult matchup for Waters, as he constantly found himself either eating hard shots whether he was on the feet or on his back. Usually after a short-notice loss against a tough veteran, you get a chance to take on an easier opponent with a full training camp to prepare properly. That is not the case for Waters, as he has been thrust into another short-notice fight against an even tougher opponent, which is certainly indicated by the wide betting lines for this fight. Obviously, this fight puts Waters into the co-main event of a UFC card, so there is some upside here. If he were to knock off Kim, it would be a huge win for his career and he would instantly make a name for himself. However, if he loses he will have lost twice in a row to start out his UFC career, which is not a good place to be. The 26-year old was actually a competitor on season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter. He was Coach Roy Nelson’s first pick, though he lost in the opening round to Mike Ricci and was not signed by the UFC after the show. Since then, he has fought for a litany of promotions, including the World Series of Fighting and the Resurrection Fighting Alliance. Waters’ biggest career win was a decision victory over Martin Sano, who was a highly touted prospect at the time. Waters is a plus athlete with a tall and thin frame for the division, similar to Neil Magny. His eighty inch reach is right up there with Magny’s for the longest in the division. However, he is not nearly as proficient at using his reach as Magny. Waters’ striking game mainly revolves around hard hooks that he throws with both hands and decent leg and body kicks. The best aspect of his game is likely his wrestling, as he has a good blast double-leg that he hits at a high percentage. Utilizing top position to his advantage, however, is not one of Waters’ strengths. His ground and pound and submission game are not at an advanced level, certainly not on the level of someone like Kim. That is not to say he cannot improve in these areas, because he absolutely can. Waters is still only 26 years old and has been a part-time fighter for most of his career, so there is plenty room for growth. Thoughts This is a bad matchup for Waters, it just that simple. Kim is a massive step up in competition, there is no denying that. Kim’s strengths are areas where Waters is weak. Waters’ defensive wrestling is not up to the task of stopping Kim’s takedowns and he does not offer anything threatening from his back. Waters’ best shot at winning this fight is landing something big on the feet, as Waters has decent power and Kim’s chin isn’t that great. However, I find that extremely unlikely. Kim will likely get this to the ground and work Waters over from top position, where he will either find a submission or ground and pound stoppage. Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim defeats Dominic Waters by submission (rear-naked choke, round 2)
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