This weekend’s UFC Fight Night 85 card, which takes place Saturday at Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Australia. It may be relatively light on name value, but there are still quite a few intriguing story lines for fans to keep in mind as they watch the card.
Here are the top five things to watch for at Saturday night’s UFC Brisbane event.
The top of the UFC heavyweight division is extremely crowded, but two more veterans will look to join the title mix when New Zealand’s Mark Hunt meets the United States’ Frank Mir in the main event of UFC Fight Night 85. Hunt may be 41 years of age, but he looked better than ever in his last fight, a first-round KO win over Antonio Silva, and with his ability to put on exciting stand-up fights for the fans, he’ll always have a spot with the UFC as long as he remains in the game. As for Mir, the former UFC heavyweight champion has won two of his last three fights and seems to be improving despite being 36 years of age. In a division with no clear-cut No. 1 contender, an impressive win for Hunt or Mir at UFC Fight Night 85 would go a long way towards either man staking a claim to getting their shot at the belt.
Former Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard was a huge free-agent signing for the UFC back in 2012 but since joining the UFC, he’s gone 3-2, 1 NC and overall has been disappointing inside the Octagon. What’s even more disappointing than his record inside the cage is the fact the Cuban-born, Australian-bred Lombard failed his post-fight drug test at UFC 182 for steroids and he hasn’t fought in over a year since then.
“Now 38 and without PEDs, one has to wonder what Lombard will look like…”
Now 38 and without PEDs, one has to wonder what Lombard will look like when he takes on American Neil Magny — who is quickly emerging as one of the sport’s top welterweights — in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 85. On paper it’s a very close fight, but ultimately it will come down what version of Lombard shows up, and until he actually steps in the cage and fights, we won’t know what the time away from the sport has done to him.
Two of the lightweight division’s top prospects lock horns as Australia’s Jake Matthews takes on American Johnny Case. Matthews, only 21, is one of the youngest fighters in the division and with a 3-1 record in the UFC already, it’s clear the kid is super talented. Case, on the other hand, is just 26 and is 4-0 so far in his UFC career. Both of these men finish fights and with the chance to break out in a crowded division on the line, fans can expect a fight full of action, one that may very well end up winning the card’s “Fight of the Night” bonus if it lives up to expectations.
One of New Zealand’s top MMA fighters returns to the Octagon when James Te Huna, fresh off a two-year layoff, takes on Canadian Steve Bosse in a middleweight bout. Te Huna, who is now 34, contemplated retirement after losing three-straight fights via knockout or submission, but after taking a long break decided he’s ready to return and he’ll get the chance to do so in front of what is basically a home-town audience. The big slugger is known for his KO power but at 34 years of age, the clock is ticking on his career. If he wants to make another run in the 185 lb division, he needs to run through Bosse and take him out in impressive fashion, but if Te Huna loses this fight, you’d have to imagine his career will be over.
One of the biggest upsets in 2015 took place at UFC Fight Night 65 when New Zealand’s Daniel Hooker brutally knocked out Japanese veteran Hatsui Hioki with a high kick. Although Hioki’s UFC career up to that point had been up-and-down, the former top-ranked featherweight was still supposed to run through Hooker in what most observers perceived as a set-up fight. Instead, Hooker turned the table as the underdog and KOed Hioki. But Hooker lost that momentum when he dropped a decision to Yair Rodriguez in his next bout and now he has to get it back with a win over Mark Eddiva this weekend. It’s a fight the oddsmakers are pegging Hooker to win and if he wants to re-emerge as a featherweight contender, he needs to show the MMA world the Hioki win wasn’t a fluke with another devastating victory.