SINGAPORE – After 20 minutes, Hyun Gyu Lim nearly quit during his five-round battle with Tarec Saffiedine.
Really, he could hardly have been blamed had he not answered the bell for the fifth round. In fact, there was a question after the third round if he’d make it out for the fourth.
After three rounds, his corner implored him to give it another five minutes. And after the fourth, Lim considered calling it a day.
“At the end of the fourth round, there was some conversation to that effect,” Lim told MMAjunkie through a translator at the post-event news conference for UFC Fight Night 34.
But the South Korean knew what was at stake in the top-billed fight of the UFC’s debut in Singapore, which took place at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. The show was the first event to stream on the UFC’s new Fight Pass digital network.
“This was an absolute golden opportunity for me to be featured in a main event,” Lim said. “As part of the main event, I wanted to put on the best possible performance. That was my No. 1 goal, and probably the only goal I had. I feel I accomplished that goal.”
The UFC apparently believed he did, as well. The promotion handed Lim (12-4-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Saffiedine (15-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) $50,000 bonuses for “Fight of the Night” following their battle.
Saffiedine used a heavy leg-kick attack to wear Lim down in the first 15 minutes. Late in the third, he twice took Lim off his feet with kicks – and looked like he might be able to get a TKO finish that way.
To start the fourth, Lim was hobbled because of the damage to his left leg – essentially fighting only on his right. Yet he continued to push forward. In the final seconds of the fight, he even mounted a flurry against Saffiedine, trying to get a miracle finish.
Lim, who lost for the first time in the UFC, said he believes his excitement over the main event may have gotten the better of him. (But then again, Saffiedine’s leg kicks likely deserve some credit, as well.)
“I think during the fight, maybe I might have gotten too excited and Saffiedine was actually very calm and was able to carry out the fight much better than I was,” Lim said. “My corner gave me the confidence that I could keep going. I was pushing as though this was the last moment. I really wanted to continue and finish it.