MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for UFC Fight Night 233.
UFC Fight Night 233 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streams on ESPN+.
Song Yadong (20-7-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC)
Height: 5’8″ Age: 26 Weight: 135 lbs. Reach: 67″
Last fight: TKO win over Ricky Simon (April 29, 2023)
Camp: Team Alpha Male (California)
Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
Risk management: Good
+ Chinese kung fu background
+ Regional grappling accolades
+ 9 KO victories
+ 3 submission victories
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Explosive athlete
^ Deceptive distance closer
+ Dangerous right hand
^ Coming forward or off the counter
+ Solid wrestling ability
^ Defensively and offensively
+ Good transitional grappler
Chris Gutierrez (20-4-2 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC)
Point of interest: Kicks and counters
The main event in Las Vegas features a bantamweight showdown between two fighters who are familiar with kicks and their associated counters.
Known for his dynamic kicks, [auttotag]Chris Gutierrez is a smooth operator who can fight from different stances.
An excellent lateral mover, Gutierrez can change the direction of his offense or access exits for defensive purposes. Gutierrez is also good about utilizing feints to both cover his tracks and set up attacks.
From hip feints to prodding jabs, Gutierrez does a good job of gathering intel on his opposition as he establishes his distance.
Although Gutierrez is more than happy to pick away at his opponent’s legs and body from range, “El Guapo” is not afraid to come forward in
combination when feeling in stride.
Fight Study: Chris Gutierrez habits against Alatengheili
— 9h6st21 (@9h6st21) December 6, 2023
When looking to counter, Gutierrez keeps a sneaking spinning backfist in his back pocket, but I’m not sure how flashy the 32-year-old will get with the counters of Song Yadong waiting in the wings.
Starting his martial arts journey at the legendary Shaolin temple, Yadong makes for a unique fighter given the historical spectrum of combat arts that he’s been exposed to. That said, there isn’t too much traditional swagger in Yadong’s style to speak of given that the Chinese fighter seems to favor more boxing and kickboxing-centric weapons.
Whether Yadong is staying planted or opting for more fencing-like footwork, the 26-year-old does a decent job of staying on balance and looking for his spots to explode. Yadong has excellent eyes in exchanges that – coupled with his incredible speed – make him a formidable puncher both coming forward and off the counter.
Fight Study of Song Yadong habits against Ricky Simon
— 9h6st21 (@9h6st21) December 6, 2023
Yadong is also an excellent kicker himself, but I doubt we’ll see him hang out in that range more than he needs to given where Gutierrez’s strengths lay.
Point of interest: Potential grappling threats
Given the potential for chaos on the feet, no one should be shocked if this party hits the floor.
Although neither man is known for their offensive shots, both fighters have been quietly improving their wrestling.
Yadong, who has been training stateside with Team Alpha Male, has done a much better job in grappling scenarios. Whether he’s shutting down takedowns with his wicked-fast sprawl or changing his level for a takedown of his own, Yadong’s ability to wrestle only seems to get better and better.
When working from topside, Yadong possesses excellent instincts that range from powerful ground-and-pound to his ability to quickly take a back.
Luckily for Gutierrez, the Factory-X product has also upgraded his wrestling skills during his UFC tenure.
From solid underhook awareness along the fence to the ability to fight hands or limp leg in the open, Gutierrez doesn’t make it easy for his opposition to get him down.
Gutierrez’s leg dexterity translates well to his guard, but he tends to play on the conservative side for safety.