The Ultimate Fighting Championship is set for its latest foray into the Australian market this weekend for UFC Fight Night 65 in Adelaide, headlined by a mouthwatering heavyweight contest between powerhouses Mark Hunt and Stipe Miocic.
The main event between New Zealand’s Hunt (10-9-1) and American Miocic (12-2) is a chance to gain redemption for both men, having each suffered set backs in their previous outings.
Hunt most recently lost to interim heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, but until the second round flying knee that ended the contest, the Kiwi had looked sharp and tagged Werdum on numerous occasions.
Whilst possibly one victory away from a shot at the belt, Miocic lost in a close fight against former champion Junior Dos Santos, and although he emerged from the fight with his second defeat, his impressive performance exemplified his improvements as a mixed martial artist.
Whilst Miocic has the power to finish the fight, Hunt’s granite chin has been known to withstand some serious shots, however the technical boxing Miocic used against Roy Nelson could be his ticket to victory.
Miocic just needs to stay out the pocket for long enough to avoid Hunt’s heavy hands.
Prediction: Miocic via unanimous decision.
The co-main event pits Brad Tavares against local favorite Robert Whittaker, with both fighters looking to gain traction in the talent-saturated middleweight division.
Number 15 ranked Tavares (13-3) is 1-2 in his last fights, although both defeats came against fellow top 15 competitors. In his most recent bout he took out former title-challenger Nate Marquardt by TKO in impressive fashion.
Promising Aussie Whittaker has complied a respectable 4-2 record in the UFC since winning Ultimate Fighter: Smashes in 2012, winning his last two against Mike Rhodes and Clint Hester. This fight is his first at middleweight, and it’ll be interesting to see how he acclimatizes to not only a different weight class, but also a step up in competition in Tavares.
Although he isn’t renowned for his power, Tavares has impressive, high volume kickboxing in his arsenal and he won’t be afraid to trade. Whittaker, who is also seldom reluctant to engage in a stand up battle, possesses KO power and if he lands a clean shot it could be a happy night for the home crowd.
But I believe it’s Tavares’ wrestling that holds the key to victory, and if he can put pressure on his opponent he can wear him down and grind out another decision victory (he has seven on his record).
Prediction: Tavares via unanimous decision.
At the ripe old age of 44, Australian competitor Anthony Perosh (15-8) takes on American Sean O’Connell in a light-heavyweight bout.
Perosh has only fought five times in the past three years after suffering numerous injuries, and he’ll be looking to put together back-to-back victories for the first time since 2012 after defeating Carlos Filho last November.
O’Connell, who’s making his fourth UFC appearance, is also looking to string together consecutive wins after he defeated Matt Van Buren in January.
Perosh is a high-level jujitsu competitor, with ten submission victories on his record, whilst his opponent is a heavy handed striker making this an interesting fight, stylistically.
If O’Connell manages to land one of his powerful punches, that’ll be all she wrote, but I see Perosh controlling proceedings with his grappling and taking the W by submission.
Prediction: Perosh via submission (round 2)
First up on the main card is a lightweight bout between two promising, undefeated fighters, Jake Mathews (8-0) and James Vick (7-0).
At just 20 years of age, Mathews is being touted as Australia’s next big star, and the young prospect has looked incredibly impressive so far in his young career, with all but one of his wins coming inside the distance.
Vick has notable victories over Nick Hein, Ramsey Nijem and Daron Cruicshank, although the latter occurred on the Ultimate Fighter.
With one of the fighters likely to forfeit their perfect record, the contest is a close one to call and it could go either way. But considering the dominance Mathews has shown in his previous fights – coupled with the advantage of the home crowd; I’m leaning slightly towards him.
Prediction: Mathews via submission (round 3)
UFC Fight Pass Main Event
265 lbs.: Stipe Miocic vs. Mark Hunt
UFC Fight Pass Main Card
185 lbs.: Brad Tavares vs. Robert Whittaker
205 lbs.: Sean O’Connell vs. Anthony Perosh
155 lbs.: Jake Matthews vs. James Vick
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
145 lbs.: Hatsu Hioki vs. Daniel Hooker
170 lbs.: Kyle Noke vs. Jonavin Webb
185 lbs.: Sam Alvey vs. Daniel Kelly
115 lbs.: Lisa Ellis vs. Bec Rawlings
185 lbs.: Dylan Andrews vs. Brad Scott
115 lbs.: Alex Chambers vs. Kailin Curran
170 lbs.: Vik Grujic vs. Brendan O’Reilly
125 lbs.: Ben Nguyen vs. Alptekin Ozkilic
by Darryl Rigby