The UFC will return to Australia for the first time since the record breaking UFC 193 in Melbourne last November. Two heavyweight legends headline the card, but there’s plenty of other intriguing match ups and Australia’s best MMA talent will be on show. Continue reading for our UFC Brisbane preview and betting tips.
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Last time Mark Hunt headlined a card in Brisbane he produced the greatest heavyweight fight in history against Bigfoot Silva. This time he is fighting another MMA legend in Frank Mir and hopefully we will get another instant classic. This one is a clear striker vs grappler match up, with Hunt being a former K1 heavyweight champion and Mir one of the best submission artists in MMA history. Hunt is a throwback to when UFC fighters could specialize in only one martial artist discipline and still be successful. He has virtually no offensive wrestling or grappling, but has developed a serviceable takedown defence and is an exceptional kickboxer. At times he deft feints with power punches and is surprising nimble for a man of his size. He has the power to KO any man and won’t have to land many punches to put Mir away.
Frank Mir is a guaranteed future UFC hall of famer. He is a former two time champion, holds the record for most heavyweight wins and has the most heavyweight finishes. Mir has a kenpo karate background, but has made his name as one of the sports most feared submission artists. He has a devastating combination of strength and technique which has seen him responsible for some of the most gruesome injuries inflicted in the octagon. If he manages to lock in a submission, Hunt will need to tap quickly or suffer a similar fate. He is always improving on his feet, and as he is a heavyweight he has KO power.
Prediction: Hunt has a massive advantage on his feet, but Mir has an even bigger one if this turns into a grappling contest. I think there’s value on both Mir by submission and Hunt by KO, but every round starts standing and I think Hunt will be too slick and score another walk off KO in the early rounds. Mark Hunt by 2nd round KO.
In the co-main event we have Hector Lombard returning from a 12-month suspension for a positive PED test to take on a surging Neil Magny who has won 9 of his last 10 bouts. Lombard is an adopted Australian after choosing not to return to his native Cuba following the 2000 Olympic Games. At those games he won a bronze medal in Judo and will have a big advantage whenever this fight takes place in the clinch. He utilizes great technical trips and has incredible takedown defence. Lombard is an intimidating striker with powerful lightning fast strikes, but has low output especially as the fight drags on. On the ground he is a very dominant positional grappler - basically if Lombard gets you down he will be winning that round. It will be interesting to see how Lombard looks on the scales, but if he is anything like his old self he will have big physical advantages over Magny.
Neil Magny is a very long rangy welterweight and will tower over his opponent here. His modus operandi is to keep opponents at distance and pick them off with jabs. He doesn’t tend to hurt opponents, but does enough to get the victory on the judges’ scorecards. He occasionally works an offensive wrestling game, but Demian Maia exposed very weak defensive grappling. If he tries to engage in any form of clinching with Lombard he is going to get tossed on his head. Magny will have a big cardio edge, so I can definitely see him taking over the fight late.
Prediction: I think the only reasons Lombard is an underdog in this fight are question marks over his age and physical condition after returning from a PED suspension. Magny will have a significant reach advantage and he will need to use every inch of it to keep Lombard at bay. But I think Lombard will be able to close the distance and win a pretty dominant grappling decision or put Magny away with a signature flurry and keep his unbeaten record in Australia alive. Hector Lombard by 30-27 decision.
Next up, it’s a fascinating bout between two of the lightweight divisions brightest prospects. With 3 wins in the UFC and only 21 years old Jake Mathews probably has the highest ceiling of any Australian fighter. He fights out of Melbourne and his head trainer is his father. He is technically sloppy but makes up for it with speed and power. His bread and butter is the takedown and top control and the majority of his wins have come down to pure physical advantages. He showed off impressive heart in his last fight to come back from significant hardship to force a doctor’s stoppage victory. He has also shown off obvious improvement with each octagon outing.
Johnny Case will be far and away the best fighter Matthews has faced. Case is riding a 12 fight winning streak and with 3 straight victories in UFC has title aspirations of his own. He is a well-rounded, technically sound combination kickboxer. Case likes to keep his opponents at the end of his jab and utilises a lot of movement to his advantage. He is not known for knockout power but can outwork opponents with volume. He is also proficient at locking in submissions on rocked opponents, but doesn’t look for takedowns or clinches. One major flaw has been takedown defence, so I certainly see an advantage for Matthews in that aspect.
Prediction: This is a tough fight for Matthews. He has been given a very dangerous opponent, but if he expects to one-day rub shoulders with the division’s elite these are the guys he has to beat. If he is going to win this fight he will need to close the distance and force a takedown and do a lot of damage whilst on top. I’m backing the youngster to take his game to another level and win a decision in front of an adoring home crowd. Jake Matthews by 29-28 decision
Next up is another Olympic Judoka in Dan Kelly (although it’s a lot easier to make Australia’s Judo team than Cuba’s) vs an impressive Brazilian prospect Antonio Carlos Jnr. At 38, Kelly is a veteran of combat sports. While his physical tools are diminishing, he has a lifetime of martial arts experience in his favour. However, that’s where his advantages end in this fight. On the feet he is a southpaw with a good straight left, but can be best described as slow and plodding. He also doesn’t have a strong submission or ground and pound game, but can be dangerous in the clinch.
Carlos Jnr used to fight at heavyweight and is a massive middleweight. He is still raw in his development, but has shown off his impressive athleticism and a dangerous ground game. He is wild on the feet, but has solid fundamentals and generates a lot of power. On the ground he is equally competent off his back or on top and has an impressive array of submissions in his arsenal.
Prediction: Kelly is coming off an inspiring victory as a big underdog at UFC 193 in Melbourne. But the 13 year age gap here will be too much to overcome. Carlos Jnr is a submission specialist, but will still have a power, speed and technique advantage on the feet. That tells you all you need to know. Antonio Carlos Jnr by 1st round TKO.
The first main card bout features two veterans at the tail end of their careers. Te Huna is another Australian based Kiwi and fights out of Sydney. He was once one of the flag bearers for the region but has regressed in recent years and hasn’t tasted victory in the octagon since February 2013. He is a solid boxer, but does his best work after getting the takedown. He has good control in top position and dangerous ground and pound, but lacks the submission threat. He also has good defensive wrestling but I don’t see Bosse shooting for many takedowns. Te Huna has only one career loss by KO, but there are big questions about his chin and general physical condition.
Bosse is a Canadian former professional hockey enforcer and he fights exactly how you would expect a hockey goon to fight. He is strong, athletic and throws punches with reckless abandon. I haven’t seen any of him on the ground, but I don’t expect a strong takedown or grappling game. He does have a few ground and pound TKO wins, so presumably he can be dangerous from dominant positions. He lost his octagon debut last June, but it’s hard to take to take much from it as he was felled by a wicked head kick 30 seconds in.
I don’t think Te Huna should be a strong a favourite as he is here. He does have the better all-round MMA game, but is coming off a long hiatus and three straight 1st round loses. Although I don’t know much about Bosse’s game, I’m fading Te Huna here as I feel he is a drastically diminished fighter. I think the value is on the former hockey goon to get it done with some Happy Gilmore style carnage. Steve Bosse by 3rd TKO.
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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