Are you ready to have your mind blown?
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing you a STACKED mixed martial arts (MMA) fight card this Saturday night (May 9, 2015) in Adelaide, South Australia, one that not only airs on UFC Fight Pass, but also kicks off at 11 p.m. ET (main card) because of that pesky time zone discrepancy.
Don't expect to see Stipe Miocic vs. Mark Hunt -- perhaps the most fan-friendly fight of UFC Fight Night 65 -- until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
In addition to that heavyweight slugfest, Brad Tavares and Robert Whittaker will look to capitalize on recent wins -- at the expense of one another -- in the middleweight co-headliner. And of course, no card "Down Under" would be complete without the addition of local attraction Anthony Perosh.
So much to unpack here ... let's start at the top.
265 lbs.: Stipe Miocic (12-2) vs. Mark "Super Samoan" Hunt (10-9-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: I know a lot of fight fans adore Mark Hunt and consider him to be a combat sports legend, so I apologize in advance, because I just don't get it. He is without question a fun fighter to watch, but he's hardly championship material.
He had two chances to prove it and got obliterated both times.
I'm referring, of course, to his knockout losses to Junior dos Santos and Fabricio Werdum. Prior to that, the "Super Samoan" went five grueling rounds with a juiced-up "Bigfoot" in a sloppy-but-nevertheless entertaining bar fight that ended in a draw.
Stopping a 38-year-old Roy Nelson -- who is just 1-4 over his last five -- is not GOAT worthy.
That said, his striking is still top of the food chain and if he was five years younger and 50 pounds lighter, I'd have him by a landslide. Unfortunately, he continues to abandon his diet and at age 41, doesn't have the pep in his step required to go 25 minutes against Stipe Miocic.
Like he did against "Big Country," I expect Miocic to out-athlete his opponent.
That means staying out of range and picking his shots, something he has the patience and cardio to execute without fail. If, however, he is seduced by the bangfest or gets lured into the phone booth, don't expect him to be chewing solid foods for about a month.
He's probably too smart for that.
Don't be surprised to see this fight hit the mat. Hunt may still have a full toolbox on the feet, but he's about as agile as that little square block from Atari's Adventure when the contest goes south. The "Super Samoan" has a low center of gravity and stingy takedown defense, but Miocic is fast enough to wait for an off-balance moment, as opposed to spamming takedowns.
Sooner or later he gets it there and well, there's a reason Hunt has been submitted six times in nine losses.
Final prediction: Miocic def. Hunt via submission
185 lbs.: Brad Tavares (13-3) vs. Robert "The Reaper" Whittaker (13-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: After 11 fights inside the Octagon, I think we've seen the best Brad Tavares we're going to see; meaning, the Hawaiian who debuted nearly five years ago is not that far removed from the middleweight who steps into the cage tomorrow night in Australia.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
Working in his favor are speed and agility, as well as deceptive strength. He's usually good enough anywhere the fight goes to beat most mid-to-lower tiered fighters and ordinarily, I probably would have favored him in this scrap against Robert Whittaker.
But I'm still trying to figure out who the real "Reaper" is.
That may depend on how much stock we put in his knockout victory over Clint Hester, balanced against a knockout loss to Stephen Thompson. The former was not as much of a surprise as the latter and at just 24 years old, I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I think from a betting perspective, I would probably play it safe.
While Tavares had a rough patch in 2014, he's usually the model of consistency, defeating veterans as well as up-and-comers. Until I see Whittaker compile a similar streak, or take out a "name," I can't overlook his hot-and-cold runs over the last few years.
Expect a close fight.
Final prediction: Tavares def. Whittaker via split decision
205 lbs.: Sean "The Real OC" O'Connell (16-6) vs. Anthony "The Hippo" Perosh (15-8)
Nostradumbass predicts: Anthony Perosh is like the Jason Voorhees of light heavyweights. Just when you think his career is dead ... ki-ki-ki, ma-ma-ma ... he rises from the proverbial grave and wins a fight, prolonging a career that is surprisingly successful at 42 years of age.
He's no Randy Couture, but hey, not bad for an Aussie.
Perosh is the beneficiary of favorable matchmaking for this hometown throwdown, as Sean O'Connell is not far removed from an unspectacular debut with UFC in 2014. He rebounded by putting the screws to Matt Van Buren, but there's a reason "Gutter" didn't win TUF 19.
Of particular concern is O'Connell's submission losses, since Perosh is an accomplished grappler who is also capable of turning out the lights (just ask Vinny Magalhaes). That leaves "The Real OC" no place to go if the going gets tough "Down Under."
If Perosh comes out and fights intelligently and doesn't decide to go punch-for-punch, he should be able to wrap this up in under three rounds. He's got more ways to win, has faced stiffer competition, and likely has the mental edge by competing in his own backyard.
Final prediction: Perosh def. O'Connell via submission
155 lbs.: Jake "The Celtic Kid" Matthews (8-0) vs. James "The Texecutioner" Vick (7-0)
Nostradumbass predicts: Jake Matthews came and went on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) with little-to-no fanfare, but as is the case with any talented-but-young fighter, MMA years are like dog years. Don't expect to see the same "Celtic Kid" that you saw during last year's combat sports reality show.
Still only 20, Matthews is a prolific finisher and made back-to-back statements in wins over Dashon Johnson and Vagner Vocha, the latter of which is more impressive than it sounds when you consider the Brazilian's experience and top-shelf submission game.
His hands are a work in progress, but the rest of his offense -- including a frightening clinch -- is dangerous enough to carry him until the striking game catches up.
That means James Vick has to win this on the feet by taking advantage of his opponent's defense, or lack thereof. Matthews is hittable and may get sucked into a game of keep-away if "The Texecutioner" can stick-and-move. Barring a quick guillotine, I'm not sure the "Celtic Kid" can be tapped in this one.
And once Vick gets tied up, he's in trouble.
Without the kind of takedown defense to stay upright -- or lights-out power to repel the shot -- it's only a matter of time before this fight heads south, and Matthews is durable enough to take a few licks to get it there. Once he does, expect violence.
Final prediction: Matthews def. Vick via technical knockout
That's a wrap.
If you want to see what's doing on the eight-fight preliminary card, also on UFC Fight Pass, our own Patty Stumberg has a nice "Prelims" breakdown here and here. He also crunched some of the numbers for his odds post here.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 65 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET, right on through the Fight Pass main card, slated to begin at 11 p.m. ET.
You've heard my picks, now let's hear yours. Who ya' got?