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UFC Fight Night 55 fight card: Robert Whittaker vs Clint Hester fight preview

In the Australian's middleweight debut, Robert Whittaker and Clint Hester will determine who the superior striker is this Friday (Nov. 7, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 55 inside Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia. Since both men come from striking backgrounds, what adjustments must either man make to claim victory? Read our fight preview and find out!

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Robert Whittaker and Clint Hester will scrap this Saturday (Nov. 7, 2014) at UFC Fight Night 55 inside Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia.

After winning his first two UFC bouts in dominant fashion, Whittaker ran into a pair of road blocks named Court McGee and Stephen Thompson. He's since recovered with a decision victory over Mike Rhodes and made the decision to move up a weight class to middleweight.

Welcoming him to the division is fellow up-and-comer Clint Hester. The former amateur boxing made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), winning each of his four bouts inside the Octagon. Though he's yet to put on a seriously impressive performance, the 27-year old's skills are developing nicely.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each man:

Robert Whittaker
Key Wins:
Mike Rhodes (UFC Fight Night 53), Colton Smith (UFC 160)
Key Losses:
Stephen Thompson (UFC 170), Court McGee (UFC Fight Night 27)
Keys to Victory:
With a Karate background and excellent boxing skills, Whittaker is a very sharp striker, as evidenced by his five knockout victories. In addition, the Australian has solid defensive wrestling, having defended the majority of takedown attempts thrown at him by Court McGee and Colton Smith.

While I will admit to being a bit surprised by Whittaker's weight class swap, it's not necessarily a bad move for the young fighter. If Whittaker was truly suffering from the weight cut as heavily as he claims, then putting on some muscle and moving up could definitely help his career and certainly lengthen it.

In fact, Whittaker will have to rely on the advantages of being the smaller man in this bout. Hester is a monstrous middleweight with legit power behind his punches, so Whittaker cannot afford to get into the slug fests he was accustomed to at welterweight.

Instead, Whittaker has to utilize his speed, conditioning, and movement. Thanks to his Karate background, Whittaker is often able to out-maneuver his opponent and then look for counter punches as his foe overextends himself.

That should be precisely the game plan against "Headbussa."

Despite his boxing background, Hester is more than willing to swing for the fences, largely relying on his athleticism and size. Whittaker must take advantage of this by making Hester miss often and pay for it.

Additionally, Hester has fatigued late in fights. If he's forced to chase Whittaker around and frequently misses his punches, he'll get tired quickly. Whittaker has the skills to make this happen, he just needs to fight carefully and with this game plan in mind.

Clint Hester
Key Wins:
Antonio Braga Neto (UFC Fight Night 44), Dylan Andrews (UFC Fight Night 33), Bristol Marunde (TUF 17 Finale)
Key Losses:
Keys to Victory:
Hester is a phenomenal athlete with a 13-3 record in amateur boxing. His punching prowess and explosiveness has transferred to mixed martial arts (MMA) quite well, resulting in seven knockout victories.

Though he's still fairly raw technically, Hester showcases improvement in each bout. In particular, his submission defense has come a long way, which allowed him to survive some dangerous positions against Antonio Braga Neto and come away with the victory.

In order to defeat his opponent, Hester must impose his physicality on Whittaker. "Headbussa" has a size advantage against Whittaker -- and the rest of the division for that matter -- and must take advantage of it.

For the most part, that means effectively cutting off the cage. If Whittaker is allowed to move with impunity, then his chances skyrocket. However, Hester should focus on pinning Whittaker to the fence when the Australian backs straight up, a bad habit he routinely relies on. Once Whittaker is stuck, Hester can unleash a savage combination of punches.

In addition, Hester should feel free to mix in a couple takedown attempts. Not only does Hester's strength advantage mean they might just succeed, but Whittaker's defensive ability drops significantly when he's concerned by his opponent's wrestling.

If Whittaker loses focus on Hester's hands, "Headbussa" may just live up to his moniker.

Bottom Line: Though match ups between former TUF guys are a dime a dozen, this should be an exciting one. Plus, both men are young, athletic, and already have some skill, making it a worthwhile watch.

For Whittaker, this is an immediate challenge to his decision of moving up a weight class. If his newfound speed advantage allows him to fully exploit his technical kickboxing prowess against a larger foe, then he'll look brilliant when he topples a fellow prospect on Saturday.

However, if Whittaker finds himself trapped against the fence, bleeding, and desperate to avoid another series of haymakers, he'll quickly question the logic of jumping up to middleweight and facing a power puncher. A lo

Though Hester is on the verge of a five fight win streak, he hasn't really moved forward in the division. Therefore, a highlight reel victory over a smaller fighter with similar strengths is vital if Hester wants a shot against a ranked fighter.

A loss would definitely hurt Hester's standing, however. Having dropped two of his last three, Whittaker was not exactly in a great position in the welterweight division. If he jumps up a weight class and derails Hester's momentum, it would look bad for both Hester and his recent opponents.

At UFC Fight Night 55, Robert Whittaker and Clint Hester will entertain the Australian fans with an electric striking match. Which man will earn victory?

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