Australia plays host to the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the third year running tomorrow night, or morning depending where you reside. While Sydney may be amidst stormy weather and pouring rain inside the Allphones Arena there will be nothing but fireworks with this eleven-bout offering capped off with top-ranked welterweights throwing fists of fury and the inception of the flyweight division. But before we make it into the business-end of the card we have seven under-card fights to take a look at.
Oli Thompson vs. Shawn Jordan
Heavyweights kick off the days proceedings at 9:30AM local time with two UFC debutants looking to make an impact right away – Thompson is one of the better heavyweights coming out of Britain sporting a five-bout unbeaten streak. Jordan first got seen as frequent addition to the Bellator preliminary cards before joining Zuffa sister-organization Strikeforce going 1-1 defeating Laval Johnson in his last outing. Jordan will look to turn this fight into a striking war, if he can do so Thompson might take an early nap but Thompson will be seeking a grappling match with three of his last five wins coming by way of a rear-naked-choke Jordan better be prepared to defend it.
Mackens Semerzier vs. Daniel Pineda
Do or die, now or never, kill or be killed – Whichever sporting metaphor you choose that’s the situation Mackens Semerzier is in tomorrow – After derailing the top-ranked featherweight Wagnney Fabiano in 2009 he has only scored one victory between the WEC & UFC. Unfortunately for him he doesn’t have a push-over to deal with either, Pineda started out his career a little rocky with a win-loss record that resembled a checkers board but he has improved in all areas having not tasted defeat since 2010 and is less than 60-days removed from his first octagon victory over Pat Schilling. Both will have to be on top of their game to return home a winner, Semerzier should be able to defeat the 26-year-old but as always when Mackens comes to play it depends which version of “Da Menace” shows up.
Kyle Noke vs. Andrew Craig
The first Aussie to walk out in front of the Sydney audience will be Kyle Noke as he faces promotional newcomer Andrew Craig. Noke is one of the most talented combatants to come out of Australia with a wealth of experience, power-punching, underrated grappling and good wrestling that will test anyone at 185-pounds. Craig has been a professional fighter for less than two-years with six-straight wins and recently defeated Bellator & WEC vet Eric Schambari to get the call up to the big time, despite being young and talented he will need a few tricks up his sleeve to spoil the Australians homecoming.
Cole Miller vs. Steven Siler
These two were ready to step into the cage at weigh-ins having a heated confrontation that sprung from Siler spoling Coles younger brother Micahs chance to become The Ultimate Fighter eliminating him to get into the TUF 14 house. Miller has a lot to prove joining the featherweight ranks after failing to take the 155-pound division by storm as industry insiders predicted so with a smaller pool ten-pounds south he has a chance to become a player. Siler failed to win the reality-series being obliterated by eventual winner Diego Brandao but has bounced back in his official UFC debut edging Josh Clopton and a win over the elder of the Miller clan would push him right up the ladder.
Anthony Perosh vs. Nick Penner
Anthony Perosh is a hungry, hungry hippo. The Australian grappler has been a staple of the Australian scene since 2003 and after morphing into a light-heavyweight for the first time in his UFC career following his loss to Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and has scored back-to-back rear-naked-choke wins. Penner has chipped away at the Canadian MMA scene for several years collaborating an 11-1 record with his lone set-back to Jimmy Ambriz, a super-heavyweight striker in a close decision. Penner will have to turn this fight into a striking match to get the upper hand on Perosh who will look to take him down and add yet another limb to his mantle and remain undefeated in the UFC 205-pound division.
James Te Huna vs. Aaron Rosa
James Te Huna was embarrassed last time he fought in Australia being on the wrong end of a one-sided beatdown from Alexander Gustafsson – Last September he returned to his winning ways smashing Ricardo Romero in under a minute and looks to keep the trend alive. Aaron Rosa has bounced around between heavyweight and light-heavyweight but has chosen to stick around at 205-pounds edging Matt Lucas in a close fight on the first UFC on FOX card. The Texan is in a tough spot against a high-level striker like Te Huna and will have to stick and move, not allowing Te Huna to unload with a high-volume of punches that would put him away in highlight-reel fashion. That concludes the preliminary porion of the night that can be viewed between Facebook and Fuel TV, be sure to peek the preview for the main card before the fights gets under way.
Follow @justinfauxmma for live tweeting from the venue for the entire event and post-fight happenings.