Get ready for some jolly ole' smackdowns in the "Land Down Under."
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "The Smashes," the Australian version of the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's reality television franchise, has drawn to a close. And all that's left is for the finalists, the coaches and those lucky few who got a contract to duke it out in the Octagon at the Finale event, UFC on FX 6, which takes place Gold Coast Convention Centre in Gold Coast, Queensland, this Friday night (Dec. 14, 2012).
In addition to the aforementioned finalists and coaches -- Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veterans and TUF alums, George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson -- UFC on FX 6 will also feature Middleweight tanks Rousimar Palhares and Hector Lombard, both of whom are looking to put their recent defeats behind them at one another's expense.
That's a scary one.
But first, we've got half a dozen "Prelims" bouts to whet your combat sports appetites. Join us below as we dig into the first three that will take place on fight night:
170 lbs.: Ben Alloway vs. Manuel Rodriguez
Fighting for Team Australia, Ben Alloway (12-3) entered the show on a five-fight winning streak and, after some early striking difficulties, knocked down and finished United Kingdom veteran Valentino Petrescu in the second round of their fight. Unfortunately, Alloway’s run was stopped short by Brad Scott via split-decision.
"Benny Blanco" has nine finishes in his professional career, five of them knockouts.
Manuel Rodriguez (9-3), who was 1-2 in his previous three before his time in the house, looked on the road to an early ejection as he was soundly outgrappled by Bola Omoyele of Team UK. Impressively, "Chalate" got to his feet with less than one minute to go and pulled off a slick slam-to-north-south sequence that coaxed a tap. Sadly, injury scuttled his semifinal showdown with Robert Whittaker, prompting his replacement by Xavier Lucas.
The Australian grappling specialist has tapped six of his opponents.
All three of Alloway’s losses have come by submission and it was Scott’s grappling that won him their semifinal bout; one would think that makes Rodriguez a shoo-in. That said, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Rodriguez is coming off a fractured leg, was losing his first fight badly, and got knocked out in his last official fight. Alloway’s striking isn’t great, but he did finish Petrescu with punches and dropped Scott with a jab in the second round of their fight.
I expect Rodriguez, with a freshly-repaired lead leg, to be slow on the draw, making his shots easy for Alloway to stop and making him highly vulnerable to those power punches. Alloway stops a tiring Rodriguez in the second round after shutting down his grappling.
Prediction: Alloway by second-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Brendan Loughnane vs. Mike Wilkinson
Englishman Brendan Loughnane (5-0) survived a rough first round against 19-year-old Patrick Iodice to batter him in the second for a unanimous decision win. Teammate Norman Parke was more than happy to exploit Loughnane’s wrestling vulnerability in the semis, however, bouncing Loughnane from the competition. He will have a two-inch height advantage over Wilkinson on fight night.
Like Rodriguez before him, Mike Wilkinson (7-0) scored a submission in the opening round, tapping out the much smaller Grant Blackler via rear-naked choke. Also like Rodriguez, his run was scuttled by an injury, in this case a torn retina after an eye poke, which forced previously-eliminated Richie Vaculik to take his place against "Freakshow" Fletcher.
The unbeaten grappling specialist has only left the second round once.
Loughnane is a solid grappler with good top control, but he isn’t at the level where his matwork can overcome a wrestling disadvantage. It was his Achilles’ Heel on the show and, while Wilkinson’s wrestling isn’t fantastic, he should be able to either get Loughnane down or pressure him against the fence without too much trouble.
Both men are solid on the ground, but I question Loughnane’s ability to get up or submit "The Warrior" from his back. Expect Wilkinson’s aggressive pursuit of the takedown and ground-and-pound once there to win him the day on the judges’ cards.
Prediction: Wilkinson by unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Nick Penner vs. Cody Donovan
After reeling off eight straight wins to get into the world’s largest fight promotion, Nick Penner (11-2) got his UFC career off on the wrong foot as he was taken down and pounded out by Aussie "Hippo" Anthony Perosh with just one second left in the first round. He was originally scheduled to take on Ricardo Almeida understudy Tom DeBlass at UFC on FUEL 4, only to be forced out by injury.
Penner, a Canadian, has four technical knockouts and five submissions to his credit.
Replacing Eddie Mendez on short notice, Cody Donovan (7-2) fights out of the Grudge Training Center alongside the likes of Shane Carwin and Brendan Schaub. Donovan, who has competed in Bellator, has split six finishes evenly between technical knockouts and submissions, most recently tapping out Peter Nolan with a rear-naked choke this past June.
He stands three inches taller than Penner.
In the interest of full disclosure: I have not seen any recent footage of Donovan -- all I can find is film that is two or three years old.
Thus, I turned to the time-honored precognition tactics of this land’s natives to come up with an answer. By which I mean I went on a three-day peyote bender and am currently typing this from an Internet cafe in Thailand. I have no idea how I got here.
Donovan has been knocked out twice in his professional career and once on the amateur circuit. Further, he is taking the fight on short notice against what is by far the best opponent of his career. Penner will catch him early and pound him out in short order. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be off, my pants didn’t accompany me on this magical journey and the cafe owner is yelling at me.
Prediction: Penner by first round technical knockout
Stop by tomorrow for the remaining three bouts, which feature a Light Heavyweight slugfest and a battle of Welterweight contenders.
See you then.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FX 6: "Smashes," beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on FUEL TV scheduled for around 6 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming Saturday, starting promptly at 9 p.m. ET on FX Network.