After a rousing UFC 263, we turn the page to UFC Vegas 29, a 14-fight card featuring athletes from 13 countries. Last week, there was a spacious 30-foot octagon in Glendale, Ariz. On Saturday, the fighters will battle in the 25-foot cage. That’s a substantial difference.
Chan Sung Jung +105 vs. Dan Ige -125
Featherweight (145 pounds) main event
Ige, who hails from Hawaii, is ranked eighth in the division. The 29-year-old is a complete fighter with an NCAA Division III wrestling base supplemented by a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a brown belt in judo. He’s also made impressive improvements in his striking. Ige is well-rounded, has great feet, superior cardio and ill will.
Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie,” is decorated in judo, hapkido, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and tae kwon do. As well, Jung is mature and centered. He interrupted his career for two years in 2014 to serve in Korea’s military. Jung’s primarily a stand-up striker, and while he is colorful and aggressive offensively, he can be a little wild with his strikes. This can and often does expose him to counterstrikes (see his loss to Yair Rodriguez).
Jung has faced an elite level of competition, and his wealth of experience surely put him in position to compete effectively with Ige. He also spent his camp in Phoenix visiting the MMA Lab as well as Fight Ready, where he put in time with striking coach Eddie Cha.
Training in Phoenix allows the Zombie great coaching in a gym with multiple sparring partners equipped with various styles. The close proximity to Las Vegas also means he will not have to endure an overseas flight.
In this fight, I see a couple of specialized striking savants competing in a highly skilled yet perhaps not overly physical battle of finesse, precision and speed.
Over time, I believe Ige will separate himself by using his wrestling to drain the Zombie then take advantage of him late on the feet when the 34-year-old Jung begins to slow. These men are physically similar, but Ige is younger by five years.
Recommendation: Ige -125.
Sergey Spivak -225 vs. Aleksei Oleinik +190
Heavyweight (265 pounds) co-main event
Fifteenth-ranked Oleinik will turn 44 in a couple of weeks and although he has the heart of a lion and a mastery of Brazilian jiu-jitsu like few others in the organization, he also has a balsa-wood beak.
Competing against larger, younger, more powerful and explosive men at heavyweight when he typically hits the octagon at roughly 238 pounds and sporting that glass jaw is bold to say the least. Oleinik must clasp onto opponents to have any chance at winning, which comes via the submission. His advanced age, his smaller frame and singularly dimensioned fighting approach make Oleinik almost obsolete in today’s MMA environment.
Spivak is similar in size to Oleinik, but is 18 years younger. He’s much more well-versed in fighting weaponry than Oleinik, though Spivak is not as specialized in any one area of combat as Oleinik is with Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Spivak is a Moldavian-Ukrainian and Oleinik was born in Ukraine. That the UFC chose one Ukrainian in Spivak to be the one to terminate another Ukrainian’s illustrious career only displays just how cold sport can sometimes be.
I expect Spivak to keep his distance and eventually catch the older, more deliberate yet beguiling fighter as he tries to press forward to engage.
Recommendation: Lean Spivak via KO/TKO -135.