Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back with a rare Friday night fight card, as the world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion is returning to "The Outback" for UFC Fight Night 33, which gets underway around 6 p.m. ET tonight (Dec. 6, 2013) from the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Queensland, Australia.
That's Saturday night "down under" for all you local folks.
Leading the charge to FOX Sports 1 & 2 is resurgent heavyweight banger Mark Hunt, who suffered a setback against Junior dos Santos back in May, but still remains one of the most dangerous strikers in the entire division. But will those heavy hands be enough to stop the suffocating ground game of Antonio Silva?
And "Bigfoot" knows a thing or two about shutting off the lights.
Also getting back into action is former PRIDE legend and struggling UFC light heavyweight Mauricio Rua, who is just 2-4 since winning the division title and coming off a submission loss to Chael Sonnen. Is there enough gas left in the tank to turn back James Te Huna?
"Shogun" isn't getting any younger.
Neither is Anthony Perosh, tasked with overcoming the vaunted wrestling attack of down-on-his-luck Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 winner Ryan Bader. "Darth" has been blown away in two of his last three bouts and getting squashed by "The Hippo" is a one-way ticket to World Series of Fighting (WSOF).
Or (gasp) Bellator.
Pat Barry has not won back-to-back fights in UFC since his 2008 debut, a span of five years, and is still reeling from a technical knockout loss to Shawn Jordan back in June. If he doesn't get past Soa Palelei in tonight's bangfest, he may be in danger of getting demoted to the Facebook "Prelims" in future fights.
"The Hulk," by contrast, is the winner of nine straight.
Joining them on the main card is a middleweight mash-up pitting former TUF guys Dylan Andrews and Clint Hester in brawl-for-all between two fighters who have yet to taste defeat inside the Octagon. Somebody's "O" has got to go. But whose will it be?
I'm glad you asked...
But before we get started, we should make note that a last-minute cancellation has bumped the female bantamweight fight between Julie Kedzie vs. Bethe Correia up to the televised main card. Since resident "Prelims" expert Patty Stumberg already worked his magic, we're giving him prime real estate right here alongside Nostradumbass to share his expertise.
Enough with Mouseketeer roll call, let's get on with it.
265 lbs.: Mark "Super Samoan" Hunt (9-8) vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (18-5)
Nostradumbass predicts: What I like about Antonio Silva's gameplan for this fight is its simplicity. He's flat-out admitted that he's not interested in trading heavy leather with Mark Hunt and wants to exploit the New Zealander's suspect ground game.
Hunt has been submitted in six of his eight losses.
The problem with his strategy is that it doesn't take into account that every fight starts on the feet. The Brazilian is the much larger foe; however, the size disparity didn't stop Daniel Cormier from landing at will and I don't believe it will stop Hunt, either.
Though it should be noted the "Super Samoan" has experienced his share of problems.
We still don't know how much he's suffered from that grisly staph infection earlier this year, one that left his leg with a hole so large, "Bigfoot" could stick his head in it like that dude at the circus who dips his dome in the mouth of a lion (see it here if you dare).
Hunt has an iron chin and he's very difficult to take down, due to his low center of gravity and exceptional skills as a counter-puncher. But Silva has never relied on traditional wrestling to work his ground game and will likely tangle his foe up and drive him into the fence.
From there we'll learn that size truly does matter.
Final prediction: Silva def. Hunt via technical knockout (ground and pound)
205 lbs.: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (21-8) vs. James Te Huna (16-6)
Nostradumbass predicts: There was a time in the not-too-distant past when this match-up would have been laughable. Now? Not even the most die-hard Mauricio Rua fan can say with 100-percent certainty that a win over James Te Huna is a lock.
The bookies have him as a +110 underdog.
That's because "Shogun" can't win a fight. When he does, it's over peanut brittle like Forrest Griffin, or gassed out gimps like Brandon Vera. I know people want to praise Chael Sonnen for his submission win rather than getting on Rua for the loss, but let's be honest, that should have never happened.
But it did, because "Shogun" is Sho-done.
It's not like Te Huna is any younger or any less battle-tested. What he is, at this stage of his career, is more durable. As we saw in the Ryan Jimmo fight, he can take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. Submission defense is an issue here, but Rua seems intent on turning this into a brawl.
He may even have some success early on.
That said, round two will see this fight turn in favor of the Aussie, as Rua runs out of gas and plays punching bag for the final 10 minutes. I know UFC President Dana White is encouraging "Shogun" to drop down in weight with a loss, but I like his first option better.
Final prediction: Te Huna def. Rua via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Ryan "Darth" Bader (15-4) vs. Anthony "The Hippo" Perosh (14-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: I know a lot of high-and-mighty fight fans hear the name Anthony Perosh and chuckle to themselves, but just remember that guys like Cyrille Diabate and Vinny Magalhaes chuckled, too, and you see how things ended up for them.
Like it or not, he's a dangerous light heavyweight who has finished all 14 of his wins.
I'm sure that's a fact not lost on Ryan Bader, who has been KTFO in two of his last three fights. It's not that "Darth" has a glass jaw, he just has a bad habit of blocking punches with his face. Both times -- against Lyoto Machida and Glover Teixeira -- he ran in like a reckless bandit.
I fully expect Bader to go back to his bread-and-butter and that's wrestling. Perosh is just as dangerous on the ground as he is on the feet, if not more so, but Bader is experienced enough inside the Octagon to implement his top game without putting himself in a precarious situation.
Especially after the loss to Tito Ortiz.
Nothing is a lock, obviously, but I expect this to be three rounds of wrestlemania, simply because Bader -- who could end it with his right hand if he wanted to -- can ill afford another loss at 205 pounds. Sorry folks, but the boo birds will sing in Brisbane.
Final prediction: Bader def. Perosh via unanimous decision
265 lbs.: Pat "HD" Barry (8-6) vs. Soa "The Hulk" Palelei (19-3)
Nostradumbass predicts: I find it interesting how closely this fight mirrors the one in the main event. In one corner, you have an undersized ex-kickboxer with a rudimentary ground game. In the other corner, you have a giant heavyweight with heavy hands and a superior ground game.
The results, however, will be much different.
When Pat Barry lumbers into his fights with an aw-shucks attitude, he usually gets the short end of the stick. Not this time. "HD" is pissed off, mostly because he's been forced to fly to Australia and when you have a fear of flying, spending 472 hours in a giant aluminum tube with a bag of peanuts and a bunch of strangers can get under your skin.
Now it's time to make someone pay.
Palelei is the more well-rounded fighter, and is a dangerous striker in his own right, but his gas tank is putrid. It has been for years, so I don't expect that to miraculously change overnight. His time spent in UFC thus far has been underwhelming and I understand he was injured in his last fight, but he's no youngster, either.
I wouldn't be surprised to see this thing play out on the feet until Barry makes significant contact. "The Hulk" will instinctively resort to Plan B, which will be his wrestling, but by the time he realizes he's gotta get this thing to the floor, he'll already be there.
Not by choice.
Final prediction: Barry def. Palelei via knockout
185 lbs.: Dylan "The Villain" Andrews (17-4) vs. Clint Hester (8-3)
Nostradumbass predicts: There are a lot of unknowns heading into this fight and most of them revolve around Clint Hester. What I saw from him as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 was underwhelming, particularly because he was so easily dispatched by Jimmy Quinlan.
Another boxing convert taken to the floor? I'm shocked...
I know some of you will be quick to defend Hester based on his debut fight in UFC back in April, where he did an admirable job of remaining upright, but let's also keep in mind he was facing Bristol Marunde, who is no longer employed by ZUFFA because he couldn't win a fight.
Dylan Andrews hasn't had that problem.
"The Villain" beat the stuffing out of his first two opponents, the aforementioned Quinlan and Swedish import Papy Abedi, who are by no means top-shelf competition, but at least established the Aussie as more than just a one-trick pony who was KTFO by Uriah Hall.
I can't say the same for Hester, simply because he hasn't had enough time under the lamps.
With that in mind, I'm not convinced he can stop the onslaught of the hometown hero. Andrews will undoubtedly throw hands until things get dicey and if and when they do, I expect him to drag this thing to the floor and ground-and-pound his way to the scorecards.
Final prediction: Andrews def. Hester via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Julie "Fireball" Kedzie (16-12) vs. Bethe "Pitbull" Correia (6-0)
Patty Stumberg predicts: "Fireball" impressed in defeat against Miesha Tate in her final Strikeforce appearance, but only the "defeat" part carried over to her UFC debut, a dull decision loss to Germaine de Randamie. She has now dropped three straight, dating back to a July 2011 loss at the hands of Alexis Davis.
Of her sixteen wins, six have come inside the distance, split between knockout and submission.
A training partner of Bellator's standout "Pitbull" brothers, the similarly-monikered Correia has yet to taste defeat in her short career. She has won three in 2013 alone, including a decision win over the only woman to ever beat Cristiane "Cyborg," Erica Paes. She takes this fight on less than a month's notice as a replacement for injured Russian Aleksandra Albu.
Neither of these ladies are good finishers, which means this will probably go the full 15, but there's a good chance it'll be a quality 15. Kedzie's generally entertaining and if Correia is anything like her teammates, she should be as well.
While I haven't seen a lot of tape on Correia, pretty much everything is in Kedzie's favor; almost five times the experience, more time to prepare for the bout, and no worries of Octagon jitters. I expect Julie's powerful kicking game to control the striking as she picks apart a very game but out-of-her-depth "Pitbull."
Final prediction: Kedzie def. Correia via unanimous decision
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 33 fight card TONIGHT (Fri., Dec. 6, 2013), starting with the Facebook "Prelims" at 6:30 p.m. ET, then followed by the FOX Sports 2 "Prelims" at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1-televised main card bouts beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC Fight Night 33 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Hunt vs. Bigfoot."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.