After last week’s UFC double header in Ireland and Brazil, the UFC now heads down under, to Melbourne, Australia. Headlining the event, is a pair of Middleweight contenders in Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson. Whittaker heads into this bout on a five-fight win streak, four of which took place in the Middleweight division. With recent victories over the likes of Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares and Rafael Natal, Whittaker is within reach of top-five status with a win over Brunson. As for the aformentioned Brunson, he heads into this contest on a complete tear. He’s rattled off five straight victories, including the last four coming via first round TKO’s. During this win streak, he’s beaten some notables such as Lorenz Larkin, Uriah Hall and Sam Alvey. With a victory over Whittaker, there’s no doubting that Brunson’s a top five Middleweight and a serious contender in a loaded division.
Co-Headlining the card, the Australian native Jake Matthews takes on Andrew Holbrook. Matthews is coming off a tough loss to Kevin Lee, which derailed a two-fight win streak. Lee proved to be too athletic and strong, taking Matthews down with ease and finishing him with ground-and-pound. However, at 22 years old, Matthews still has a bright future and a chance to bounce back here. As for Holbrook, he comes into this bout fresh off his first pro defeat to Joaquim Silva. It was a tough one too, as the bout only lasted 34 seconds. Hopefully this bout last longer for Holbrook, as he needs to avoid two straight defeats and a possible pink slip from the UFC.
Other names on this card include Kyle Noke, Chris Camozzi, Richard Walsh and Dan Hooker. Also don’t blink when Ben Nguyen and Geane Herrera lock horns, as I’m pretty certain this bout has fireworks written all over it. Anyways, let’s get to the predictions!
FOX Sports 1 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Derek Brunson (16-3, 7-1 UFC) vs. Robert Whittaker (16-4, 7-2 UFC)
– This is a great main event and a great opportunity for both men, as a win here not only helps crack the top five in a stacked Middleweight division, but also puts the winner one fight away from a title shot. Whittaker, since making the jump up to 185 pounds, is undefeated. He’s been able to use his technical striking to carve up opponents and solid take down defense to keep fights upright. Meanwhile, Brunson himself has been on a tear. More so known for his solid wrestling abilities, it’s actually been his striking that has more of a threat of late. His last four opponents have lasted an average of under two minutes, all succumbing via TKO.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Brunson. I believe that Whittaker since moving up to the Middleweight division, hasn’t faced anyone physically as opposing as Brunson. With solid wrestling abilities, a recent showing of legit knockout power and freak athleticism, I just can’t see how Whittaker will be able to keep distance. Remember, Brunson was handily beating Yoel Romero (The number one contender) before Romero broke his jaw in the third round. He is literally a round away from being a perfect 8-0 inside the octagon. Anyways, like I said, I got Brunson. I think he’s going to be able to take Whittaker down at will and eventually finish him. So with that, I have Brunson via TKO.
155 lbs.: Andrew Holbrook (11-1, 1-1 UFC) vs. Jake Matthews (11-2, 4-2 UFC)
– I’m not going to over analyze this fight, as Jake Matthews is set up here to rebound from his last outing against Kevin Lee. Holbrook, if not for a gift decision victory by the judges against Ramsey Nijem, would probably be back to fighting on the regional scene. His last fight lasted 34 seconds and I can’t see this one lasting that long too. So with that, I have Matthews winning this via first round submission.
170 lbs.: Kyle Noke (22-9-1, 6-5 UFC) vs. Omari Akhmedov (15-4, 3-3 UFC)
– This could very well be a pink-slip fight, as both men are on two-fight skids. Noke, a cast member of TUF 11, has been in the UFC since 2010. He started out his UFC career with three straight victories, but in the last five years had traded wins and losses. Akhmedov, also started his UFC career with success, winning three of his four fights. He has since dropped two straight fights, including a fight of the night with Elizeu Zaleski.
As for a prediction, I really can’t say one or the the other with certainty, but I’ll go with the veteran in Kyle Noke. I mean, he’s an insanely inconsistent competitor, but he’s fighting in his native Australia and a loss could result in the end of his UFC and MMA career. So with that, I’m going with the desperate and say that Kyle Noke wins this via decision.
155 lbs.: Yusuke Kasuya (9-2-2, 0-1 UFC) vs. Alex Volkanovski (13-1, 0-0 UFC)
– I will never complain about the amount of events the UFC puts on, but it’s awfully hard to keep up with a roster of over 500 fighters. For example, this whole card is full of unknowns to me, just like this fight. However, from what I’ve seen on there records, I’m siding with Volkanovski. He’s won ten straight fights and is knocking everyone out. So with that, I got Volkanovski to continue the trend and win via knockout.
205 lbs.: Tyson Pedro (4-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Khalil Rountree (4-1, 0-1 UFC)
– I really don’t know anything about Tyson Pedro and only know of Rountree because he was a finalist for TUF 23. I notice though that Pedro is a finisher, as all four of wins come via submission. Meanwhile, Rountree is a knockout artist, as two of fours wins by that. In other words, I don’t think this fight is going the distance. As for a prediction, I’ll take Rountree by knockout. Pedro has never fought out of the first round, which is too much of an unknown cardio-wise to me if this one gets deeper into the fight.
115 lbs.: Seo Hee Ham (16-7, 1-2 UFC) vs. Danielle Taylor (7-2, 0-1 UFC)
– Ham is such a fun fighter to watch and her nickname Hamderlei Silva makes total sense. She’s crafty on the feet and well rounded overall, but she’s fighting ten pounds above her normal weight class Atomweight. I mention that because Ham’s 1-2 record in the UFC is product of that, as well as the stiff competition she’s faced against natural Strawweight’s. As for Taylor, she is a striker with heavy hands. Against Maryna Moroz, she wasn’t able to showcase that, as she was very hesitant. It had to of been octagon jitters, as Taylor only landed 17 punches (Same amount as Moroz).
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Ham. She’s the better all around fighter and throws and lands strikes in volume. Taylor might have the power, but she’s got to start landing more punches in order for it to mean anything. So with that, I have Ham via decision.
FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” (8 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Chris Camozzi (24-11, 9-8 UFC) vs. Daniel Kelly (11-1, 4-1 UFC)
– I’ve been back and forth with this fight, as it really could go either way. And that’s saying something, as I’ve often criticized Kelly and some of sloppy wins. However, his last fight against Antonio Carlos Junior was super impressive. I mean, I didn’t think he had a shot and manhandled Carlos Junior in every aspect, especially on the ground. Meanwhile, Camozzi is coming off a pretty dominant defeat to Thales Leites, which saw a three-fight win streak come to an end.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Camozzi here. While Kelly has a path to victory by implementing a heavy grappling attack, I believe that Camozzi’s active guard and ability to get up will be detrimental in this fight. I say that because on the feet, Camozzi’s six inch reach advantage is going to be huge. I expect Camozzi to keep distance and throws tons of jabs en route to a decision victory.
155 lbs.: Damien Brown (16-9, 1-1 UFC) vs. Jon Tuck (9-3, 3-3 UFC)
– This is a tough fight for Damien Brown and like his debut against Alan Patrick, it comes against a UFC veteran. Tuck, has traded wins and losses since debuting in 2012 and according to the pattern, is in line for a win here. And a projected win, means we shall see the Tuck that shows promise and potential to make a run in the Lightweight division. Plus in this matchup, Tuck is more athletic and will have a sizable reach advantage. So with that, I have Tuck via late TKO.
170 lbs.: Jonathan Meunier (7-1, 0-1 UFC) vs. Richard Walsh (9-4, 2-3 UFC)
– This is a toss-up, as Meunier had a lackluster debut against a very talented Colby Covington, while Walsh has been a no show in the octagon . I mean, I understand why Meunier faltered against Covington on short notice, but I don’t understand how Walsh doesn’t have any facets to his mixed martial arts game that stand out. I guess if I were to point anything out, it might be his ability to make a fight ugly, which has worked. However, all Meunier has to do in this fight is either counter Walsh on the feet or attack Walsh’s questionable takedown defense. So with that, I’m taking Meunier here via decision.
125 lbs.: Geane Herrera (9-2, 1-2 UFC) vs. Ben Nguyen (15-6, 2-1 UFC)
– This has fight of the night written all over it, as you have two willing strikers, who carry power and durability into this match. Herrera is coming off a defeat to former Flyweight title challenger Ali Bagautinov, which in my opinion was poor matchmaking. You have a young up-and-comer, who lacks experience in mixed martial arts and you pair him up against a former title challenger and absolute beast of a grappler? Anyways, his combatant Nguyen is also coming off a loss, as Louis Smolka absolutely dominated every aspect of the fight. The fight lasted much longer than it should of, as Nguyen’s durability and heart kept him from going away easy.
As for a prediction, I have Herrera in this one. I believe that due to his tough matchmaking, he hasn’t been able to highlight his skill set. And while Nguyen is not an easy fight by any means, he’s a pure striker, which plays right into Herrera’s game. What I mean is, Herrera’s athleticism and offensive wrestling should neutralize Nguyen on the feet and when they brawl, I feel that Herrera will land the better punches while dodging Nguyen’s. So with that, I have Herrera via decision in a barnburner.
UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” (6:30 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Daniel Hooker (13-6, 3-2 UFC) vs. Jason Knight (15-2, 1-1 UFC)
– Daniel Hooker is quickly proving to be one of the more durable and exciting fighters in the UFC. With an already solid ground game, he’s been steadily improving on the feet. And while he’s been defeated by dynamic strikers Maximo Blanco and Yair Rodriguez, he doesn’t have to worry so much in this bout about flying knee’s or spinning roundhouse kicks. Knight is more of a basic striker, who has shown good grappling and aggressiveness on the ground. As for a prediction, I’m going to side with Hooker. He’s got the reach in this fight and the ability to take Knights best and keep coming forward. Plus he’s 7-1 when fighting in Australia. So with that, I have Hooker via decision.
135 lbs.: Marlon Vera (7-3-1, 1-2 UFC) vs. Ning Guangyou (5-3-1, 2-1 UFC)
– Speaking of TUF China, Guangyou won the season, defeating Jianping Yang via decision. Again though, the talent that came out the season is probably some of the worst and his other win comes against a fellow member of that TUF. Vera, while 1-2 in the UFC really impressed me in his fight against Roman Salazar. He’s got formidable striking and an active guard. Unfortunately, his last fight he was handily defeated by Davey Grant, but I’m chalking that up to a “bad night at the office”. Clearly I believe there is some potential in Vera and I believe he gets back into the win column here via decision.
125 lbs.: Jenel Lausa (6-2, 0-0 UFC) vs. Yao Zhikui (2-3, 1-2 UFC)
– I believe Zhikui was a cast member of TUF China, but the talent that came out of that was fairly abysmal. I have no idea who Lausa is, other than he’s new blood in the flyweight division. He’s also got a winning record and that goes a long way in this bout. So with that, I have the “Demolition Man” Lausa via TKO.