Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a card filled with heavyweight sluggers and burgeoning middleweight contenders to the "Land Down Under" later this evening.
UFC Fight Night 65: "Miocic vs. Hunt," which takes place in Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Adelaide, Australia, will feature the No. 5-ranked heavyweight Mark Hunt. "Super Samoan" will use his giant hands to test the chin of the durable and supremely talented Croatian Stipe Miocic in the evening's main course.
Both men are coming off of losses to stiff competition and will look to reassert themselves into the 265-pound title picture.
Prior to the headlining bout, Xtreme Couture's Brad Tavares goes head-to-head with The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Smashes" veteran Robert Whittaker. The pair of Whittaker and Tavares have each shared disappointing slides in their respective Octagon career's, but have since rebounded impressively.
However, it's not the big boys we're honing in on in this fight day preview, but rather an undefeated lightweight contender. Melbourne's own Jake Matthews will kick off the Fight Pass main card festivities in Australia when he faces fellow undefeated 155-pound prospect James Vick.
"Celtic Kid" is an immense talent who has plenty of time to grow in the sport -- Matthews is only 20 years old.
Matthews began his mixed martial arts (MMA) career just after his eighteenth birthday. He began fighting locally in Melbourne and racked up the wins soon after. What made him such a unique fighter was his patience and ability to find the finish, no matter what the situation was.
Matthews professional fighting debut came against Sam Fiamatai. Early on in the pair's Sept. 2012 meeting, it seemed like he might be in trouble as he was bullied in the clinch. Fiamatai recorded two takedowns in the first round and achieved mount once.
The up-and-coming Matthews countered his opponent's physical strength by utilizing excellent jiu-jitsu off of his back. He calmly worked back to full guard and eventually reversed the precarious position he was in, ending the first round in a dominant spot.
Matthew's will would be tested once again in the second frame as he was tossed to the ground once more. He gave up side control and was eating punches. Once again, though, Matthews slithered out through an opening and straddled Fiamatai's back, earning a second-round technical knockout stoppage.
It was quite the first impression for Matthews. From there, the Australian talent took on Jason Zivkovic. That tussle lasted less than half a minute. For a bout that totaled just 23 seconds, Matthews was able to showcase his brief evolution as a fighter.
Matthew's secured a head lock and executed a perfect sprawl on the shooting Zivkovic. Later on, he would use that head lock to land knees, which signaled the beginning of the end for Zivkovic. He was finished with a devastating right hook just moments later.
Next up was Luke Jumeau in May 2013. In the opening round, Matthews had his way with Jumeau, snatching up a quick takedown, while smothering him with solid ground and pound. More of the same would ensue in round two, before Matthews locked up the rear-naked choke.
In seven months, Matthews accumulated a noteworthy perfect (3-0) record. He had been tested, but rebounded with two quality wins, in which he made improvements to his wrestling and striking game.
Tadija Majic would become Matthews' fourth victim. Their June 2013 match up had all the makings of a promising stand-up war, but Matthews had other plans. He planted a right hook on the jaw of Majic; one that he would never recover from. He was finished on the ground with strikes in the first round.
Two months later, in August, Matthews was pitted against Dean Purdon. He opened up on his opponent with an onslaught of offense, landing multiple knees and a sound body kick. The fun wouldn't last as Matthews would end up on the wrong end of an attempted throw.
However, just as he showed in the Fiamatai fight, Matthews stayed composed and attempted an armbar submission, which eventually led to him securing top position and full mount. The second frame saw Matthews rock Purdon with a left hand and a series of uppercuts, before getting caught in a leg lock attempt out of desperation. He would eventually pry his leg free, dish out some hammer fists and secure the second rear-naked choke win of his budding career.
Sitting a 5-0, with an expansive array of MMA weapons, Matthews was realizing his full potential. He was outclassing grown men on his regional circuit and becoming a highly formidable threat.
Shortly after the Purdon win, Matthews was announced as one of the welterweight members of TUF: "Nations." His time competing on the show was short-lived. "Celtic Kid" was sent packing by Olivier Aubin-Mercier. After initially showing promise on the feet in the early going, Matthews was routed in the wrestling and grappling department by his Canadian counterpart.
Since the loss was considered an exhibition while in the TUF house, it wasn't taken into account on Matthew's professional record. It was still a surprise nonetheless and one that he needed to shake off quick if he had any hopes of fighting in the world's biggest fight promotion.
He'd pick up a much-needed unanimous-decision win over Stuart Dare in April 2014 following his departure on the show, which ended up being enough for UFC to bring him back into the fold. Upon his signing, Matthews dropped down to his natural division of lightweight and met Dashon Johnson in June.
He prepared for his first Octagon fight in what some may consider a highly unorthodox way. No actual training partners, and no gym. Only Matthews, his brother, father and a small shed. Apparently it was effective because Johnson was thoroughly manhandled by Matthews and submitted with a triangle choke in the final round.
Matthews continued his winning ways in November scoring a remarkable submission win over second degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Vagner Rocha.
Will he be able to do the same against Vick later tonight?
He certainly will have a disadvantage standing up ... at least on paper. The height discrepancy between the 28-year-old American and Matthews is a staggering six inches. The latter will also give up a four-inch reach advantage to "The Texecutioner."
Vick also prefers to stand and bang, naturally. He doesn't do as well off of his back; his takedown defense percentage is pretty paltry. Getting inside on Vick might not be all too difficult for Matthews, who has a half way decent shot and above average striking.
In other words, we'll find out just what this Aussie is made of several hours from now.