Look out for dingos.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will brave the vicious wilderness of the hellscape known as Australia this Friday night (March 2, 2012) for its second venture on FX at the Allphones Arena in Sydney.
And the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is bringing some fantastic scrappers to keep it safe.
Muay Thai monsters Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann will square off in a welterweight slobberknocker in the main event of the evening, while world-ranked flyweights Ian McCall and Yasuhiro Urushitani will welcome Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, respectively, to the skinny lands of 125 pounds.
Now join us after the jump for breakdowns of the remaining three:
205 lbs.: James Te Huna vs. Aaron Rosa
Hard-hitting Kiwi warrior James Te Huna (13-5) -- the first New Zealander to enter the Octagon -- has made quite an impression during his brief time with the promotion. In his debut back at UFC 110, he knocked out durable veteran Igor Pokrajac and, after hitting a roadblock in the form of streaking Alexander Gustafsson, wiped out Ricardo Romero in a grand total of 47 seconds. Possessing lightning hands and an effective ground game to match, Te Huna’s last six victories have come by way of (technical) knockout, and at 7-1 in his last eight, a victory over Rosa could turn him into a fringe contender.
After an uninspiring debut that saw a bloated Aaron Rosa (17-4) finished in three by hard-hitting Joey Beltran, he returned to his proper weightclass, going from more than 240 pounds against Beltran to a svelte 204 in his sophomore effort, a decision victory over Matt Lucas. The San Antonio (best city on Earth, by the way)-based veteran is surprisingly well-traveled for his age, having fought everywhere from Strikeforce to Bellator to Shark Fights, but a win over Te Huna could make the UFC his home for a long time to come.
Rosa pleasantly surprised me against Lucas -- the fact that he was able to perform so well after dropping so much weight between his first and second Octagon appearances was quite impressive.
Too bad it won’t be enough.
Te Huna isn’t the most technical fighter, but his hands are lightning fast and he packs some serious power. In addition, he has the wrestling chops to keep the fight where he wants it against the likes of Rosa. Rosa is a good, well-rounded fighter, but he doesn’t possess any outstanding trait that he can use to overcome Te Huna. And even if things go south on the feet, Te Huna has other options, while I’m not convinced Rosa can dictate position. This should be an entertaining scrap while it lasts, but it’s going to end in violent fashion in the New Zealander’s favor.
Prediction: Te Huna via second round knockout
205 lbs.: Anthony Perosh vs. Nick Penner
You can question several things about Anthony Perosh (12-6), but you can’t deny that "The Hippo" has a brass set. Filling in for a sick Ben Rothwell on about a day’s notice, Perosh squared off with Mirko Filipovic at UFC 110 despite normally fighting at Light Heavyweight. Things went about as expected, as he found himself unable to penetrate the Croatian’s legendary takedown defense and was eventually sliced open with a nasty elbow, forcing a stoppage. Undeterred, Perosh returned to his proper weightclass, easily dispatching Wolfslair striker Tom Blackledge and overcoming an enormous striking disadvantage to submit Cyrille Diabate.
Now 2-1 in his second run in the promotion, the Australian grappling whiz will look to put a stop to Penner’s nearly four-year-long unbeaten streak.
One of Canada’s finest light heavyweights, Nick Penner (11-1) has not tasted defeat since a 2008 loss to the gargantuan Jimmy Ambriz. Currently, he has won eight straight. A well-rounded fighter, Penner has the skills to end the fight anywhere it goes, with nine finishes to his name, including five knockouts and four submissions. After missing all of 2010, Penner scored two victories in 2011 and would undoubtedly like to prove that Ryan Jimmo ain’t the only tough guy from the Great White North worth writing home about.
While there isn’t much recent footage of Penner for me to base this off of, but he doesn’t seem to have much to offer Perosh. He has some decent wins on his record and, interestingly, has experience going past three rounds, but Perosh can beat most people he can take down in the division, and while his poor stand up is a major liability that will most likely keep him in the middle of the pack.
The hometown advantage, upper-level experience and grappling prowess of Perosh should be enough to overcome Penner’s momentum. Both fighters are consistent finishers, so expect an interesting affair that ends with Perosh attached to Penner’s back and squeezing the life out of him.
Prediction: Perosh via first-round submission
145 lbs.: Cole Miller vs. Steven Siler
One of the lightweight division’s lankier members, Cole Miller (18-5) established himself as one of the more dangerous grapplers at 155 pounds with submission victories over the likes of Jorge Gurgel, Dan Lauzon and Ross Pearson. Just when he seemed on the cusp of contendership, however, Matt Wiman unleashed his inner Donkey Kong, ruthlessly battering "Magrinho" en route to a dominant decision. Despite guillotining fellow stickman T.J. O’Brien in the fight after, the 6’1" Miller has decided to drop down to featherweight, where he will be one of the division's tallest fighters this side of George Roop.
He will look to begin a new reign of terror at the expense of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran Steven Siler (19-9).
A competitor on the TUF 14, Siler got his shot at the storied "six-figure contract" by submitting Cole’s younger brother, well-traveled veteran Micah Miller. Unfortunately, "Super" used up all his good fortune in that first fight, running next into the angry brick wall known as Diego Brandao and was wiped out in just over 20 seconds. He managed to get a foothold in the UFC, however, with a win over fellow competitor Josh Clopton at the finale, and will be trying to replicate teammate Roland Dulorme’s feat of taking out two brothers in quick succession.
I’m always wary of fighters dropping down a weight class, especially those as tall as Miller, but the skill disparity between the two and the fact that Miller isn’t making the cut off a loss strike me as sufficient to pick "Magrinho." Siler is a legitimate fighter -- he’s only lost twice since 2007 to Cole Escovedo and Chad Mendes. The issue is that he’s been finished in all nine efforts, and even if his submission defense has improved, his chin remains questionable, and the sheer height of Miller will make it difficult for him to use his solid clinchwork.
He’s quite lanky for a featherweight at 5’11," meaning Miller won’t have quite the insane length advantage he’ll usually enjoy in this weight class, but his striking is constantly improving and his ground game is high-tier. I expect a repeat of the Pearson and O’Brien fights, with some nice striking exchanges before Siler gets clipped, falls and gets choked out. Brotherly revenge shall be had.
Prediction: Miller via second-round submission
Free fights and flyweights on Friday on FX are fine with me.
See you then, Maniacs!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FX 2, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 5:30 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 Friday night.