After last weekend’s double header of UFC fights, the world’s top MMA promotion is back this weekend with UFC Fight Night 101, which takes place Saturday night at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Unfortunately, this card took a big hit when injuries scratched the main event between Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza, but there are still enough solid fights on this card to make it worth your while.
Here are the top five things to watch for at UFC Fight Night 101.
1) Middleweights Look To Jump Into Title Contention
The main event of UFC Fight Night 101 is a five-round middleweight fight between American Derek Brunson ($8,800) and New Zealand’s Robert Whittaker ($7,400). Brunson is 7-1 in the UFC and is currently on a five-fight win streak, with his last four wins coming by knockout. Brunson is one of the top wrestlers in the UFC middleweight division and has huge power in his fists, making him one of the most dangerous 185lbers in the world and a true dark horse for the belt. Much of the same can be said of Whittaker, who is 7-2 in the UFC including a 4-0 record since moving up to the middleweight division. Whittaker is a massive puncher with excellent takedown defense and at 25 years of age, he has all the potential in the world to be a future champion. This is an excellent matchup between two top-10 fighters and is a must-watch fight.
Analysis: Whittaker is nothing but impressive, but Brunson has looked even better. With his wrestling ability, Brunson should be able to control where this fight takes place, and if he can get the fight to the mat he has a good chance at finishing the fight with ground and pound. I like Brunson at $8,800 as a lineup anchor.
2) Top Prospect Matthews Returns Against Holbrook
The co-main event sees Melbourne’s Jake Matthews ($9,300) take on Andrew Holbrook ($6,900). Matthews, who is only 22, is 4-2 in the UFC with four finishes. He is a massive lightweight and although he is coming off of a stoppage loss to Kevin Lee, the sky is still the limit for Matthews, who has heavy ground and pound and a slick submission game. Holbrook, his opponent, is 1-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a knockout loss to Joaquim Silva. Holbrook is a submission expert, but his level of competition before coming into the UFC was poor and he hasn’t been impressive in the Octagon. On all accounts, this looks like a set-up fight for Matthews to win.
Analysis: Matthews needs to be careful not to get submitted if this fight hits the mat, but he’s a much better fighter and fighting in his hometown should give him extra motivation to put on a good show. Matthews finishes fights, and Holbrook is vulnerable, so I’m looking for the young Aussie to get a finish, and at $9,300, I think he is worth taking in this spot.
3) Hometown Hero Kelly Fights Camozzi
A pair of scrappy middleweights fight when Melbourne’s very own Dan Kelly ($7,100) takes on Chris Camozzi ($9,100) in the preliminary card headliner. Kelly is 39, but the old man somehow keeps winning inside the Octagon, holding a 4-1 record in the UFC. He is currently on a two-fight winning streak, with his only loss in the UFC coming to Sam Alvey. Kelly is a judoka by trade, but he’s shown some solid boxing in the UFC, though at his age his chin is still a question mark. As for Camozzi, the UFC veteran is 11-8 in the Octagon and has won three of his last four fights overall. Camozzi is a durable fighter with solid striking skills and a good ground game, though he’s been prone to submission losses in the past.
Analysis: This is a pretty tough fight to call. Though Camozzi is the better overall fighter, his inability to defend submissions could cost him if Kelly is able to use a throw to get this fight to the mat. Considering the prices, taking a flier on Kelly at $7,100 seems like a shrewd pick here, as he has a decent chance to finish this fight if he can get it to the floor.
4) Nguyen, Herrera Go Head-To-Head
Two high-volume flyweight strikers meet as American-born Australian Ben Nguyen ($8,500) takes on Geane Herrera ($7,700) in a preliminary card bout. Nguyen is 2-1 in the UFC with two finishes, although he was knocked out in his last fight by Louis Smolka. Though he weighs only 125lbs, Nguyen is a high-volume striker and one of the division’s hardest hitters with 10 career knockouts and 14 finishes overall in 16 career wins. However, he has a poor chin and has been knocked out five times in his six career losses. As for Herrera, he’s 1-2 in the UFC, though he did collect a knockout in his lone win. Like Nguyen, Herrera is a high-octane fighter, which should lead to a very exciting preliminary bout, one that likely won’t go the three rounds.
Analysis: Though Herrera is more durable, Nguyen is a heavy hitter and if he can land a big punch on Herrera’s chin, he has a good shot at getting the finish in this fight. I like Nguyen at $8,500 here.
5) Hooker, Knight Meet In Potential “Fight Of The Night”
Australian featherweight Dan Hooker ($8,900) takes on Jason Knight ($7,300) in the Fight Pass headliner. Hooker is 3-2 in the UFC with three finishes, including a signature knockout win over Hatsu Hioki. “The Hangman” is one of the tallest featherweights in the UFC at 6’ and offers both powerful striking as well as a sneaky submission game, and he finishes fights. As for Knight, he’s 1-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a “Fight of the Night” performance. Knight is a submission expert with nine subs in his career, but his striking has also come along nicely, making for an intriguing matchup against Hooker.
Analysis: Hooker has the sharper striking, and if he can keep it on the feet he should be able to out-strike Knight. But Knight is durable, so Hooker seems more likely to win by decision, making Hooker at $8,900 a shaky pick.
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