Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the FOX Sports 1 network tomorrow night (Sat., March 19, 2016) with UFC Fight Night 85: "Hunt vs. Mir," taking place inside Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
That means folks on the scene "Down Under" will be watching on Sunday, while the rest of us can plan on tuning in Saturday night. Blame the space-time continuum, or whatever the astro-nerds use to calculate that sort of thing.
Speaking of space, there won't be much of it available once lumbering heavyweights Mark Hunt and Frank Mir take center stage in the five-round (lol) main event. The "Super Samoan" will attempt to punch his way into the win column before Mir can lock on a submission.
In the co-main event, Hector Lombard returns from his drug suspension -- a result of mystery pills obtained from a friend of a friend -- to battle wily welterweight veteran Neil Magny. The big question coming into this fight is what version of "Showeather" remains at age 38.
Only one way to find out.
UFC Fight Night 85 will feature six main card fights in total. If you want to see what's doing on the FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass "Prelims," our man Patty Stumberg went into great detail here and here. In addition, P-Stum also dissected the latest odds and betting lines here.
Now then, let's get to work.
265 lbs.: Mark "Super Samoan" Hunt (11-10-1) vs. Frank Mir (18-10)
Nostradumbass predicts: UFC "Brisbane" has a main event that skates by on the name value of its headliners, but I think we have to be a bit realistic when we talk about the quality of this marquee match up, as neither fighter has looked all that great in recent years.
Mark Hunt, for the first half of his combat sports career, had the ground game of Joe Bonham. He did an admirable job of transforming himself into a complete fighter but it was too late in the game, as Father Time caught up to the 41-year-old slugger with a receipt for his chin.
The "Super Samoan's" last three losses have all come by way of knockout.
Similarly, Frank Mir has been hanging on by a thread. Though his victory over Todd Duffee was spectacular, it was, well, over Todd Duffee. In fact, the former UFC champ does not have a win over a fighter currently ranked in the division top 10 and is just 2-5 dating back to 2011.
Not exactly main event material.
Mir has more ways to win, but does not have the cardio to exploit them. His loss to Andrei Arlovski -- as well as his win over Duffee -- left me wondering what exactly it is he does for conditioning, because it doesn't work and should be abandoned immediately.
Hunt works at a more controlled pace and therefore lasts longer, so if he can keep a low base and wait for Mir to empty his tank (won't take long), I have a sneaking suspicion he's going to land an uppercut. Assuming he doesn't do anything stupid -- like dive into guard to finish the job -- he should have this wrapped up in round one.
Final prediction: Hunt def. Mir via technical knockout
170 lbs.: Hector "Showeather" Lombard (34-4-1, 2 NC) vs. Neil Magny (17-4)
Nostradumbass predicts: Well, well, well ... look what the cat dragged in. Hector Lombard enters UFC Fight Night 85 with the deck stacked against him. Not only is he coming off a 14-month layoff, he's also competing under the new USADA regime.
Who even knows what version of the Olympian we're going to get?
That's without taking into consideration the fact that "Showeather" is now 38 years old and facing a top-10 welterweight who's won nine of his last 10. Neil Magny also has a ridiculous 80-inch reach and stands six inches taller than his stocky foe.
Lombard still has the strength of a gorilla and can launch anyone in the clinch, that hasn't changed a bit.
But he's also most dangerous in round one, perhaps even more so after this much time on the pine. Conversely, Magny gets stronger as the fight wears on, so it would not surprise me to see him capture rounds two and three on volume alone.
Assuming he doesn't get his head taken off in the opening frame.
That to me is the narrative of this fight. Lombard is in front of his hometown fans and will likely be swinging for the seats in an attempt to put on a show. If Magny can keep his cool and not get backed into the fence, his polish and precision should carry him to the cards.
Final prediction: Magny def. Lombard via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Johnny "Hollywood" Case (22-4) vs. Jake "The Celtic Kid" Matthews (9-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Getting the opportunity to compete on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) is a great way to expose yourself to a global audience, but fame is not without its drawbacks. When this fight was originally announced, all I could think was, "Matthews ... wasn't that the dude with the belly ache on TUF Nations?"
"The Celtic Kid" was upended by Oliver Aubin-Mercier in the elimination round of the combat sports reality show and promptly returned to lightweight. Still just 21 years old, Matthews already has an impressive 3-1 record inside the Octagon with three finishes.
He's athletic and skilled in all areas, which is what you would expect from the next generation of MMA fighters.
Unfortunately, he's fighting a mirror image of himself in Johnny Case, who is equally well rounded with a similar height and reach, but has far more experience than his Aussie foe. "Hollywood" hasn't lost in six years across of span of 12 fights.
He hasn't beaten anyone in the top 10, but neither has Matthews.
With most aspects being equal -- both are prolific finishers -- it's hard to bet against the fighter who is more accomplished. That said, it should be a fun scrap, but one that is going to lean in favor of Case once the dust settles "Down Under."
Final prediction: Case def. Matthews via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Antonio Carlos "Cara De Sapato" Junior (5-1, 1 NC) vs. Daniel Kelly (10-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: I know a lot of folks were rolling their eyes over this match up, but it's designed to give Aussie fans a local fighter to cheer for, then one to mourn for as Daniel Kelly -- who turns 39 in just a few months -- gets buried in the center of the cage.
He's no tomato can and his accomplishments as an Olympic judoka cannot be overstated, but I can't seem to rid myself of that memory of Kelly tapping out to Sheldon Westcott midway through TUF Nations. Especially when you consider that Antonio Carlos Jr. is a multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion.
One who walked through TUF Brazil 3 like Jason Voorhees walked though a cabin of horny teens.
In addition, the Brazilian -- 12 years younger than Kelly -- packs a tremendous amount of power and comes from a much better training camp in American Top Team (ATT). I'm not going to frown on his loss to Patrick Cummins, as "Durkin" basically wrestlefucked him to a decision.
Kelly is not a wrestler.
It's hard to imagine "Cara de Sapato" (whatever the heck that means) waltzing into a haymaker or doing something equally stupid to jeopardize the outcome. Instead, expect Kelly to fight defensively with little success, getting dropped and subbed somewhere in the opening frame.
Final prediction: Carlos Jr. def. Kelly via submission
185 lbs.: Steve "The Boss" Bosse (10-2) vs. James Te Huna (16-8)
Nostradumbass predicts: Steve Bosse retired in 2014 because he was battling recurring injuries and admitted he no longer had the rage required to "go make war." Then he inexplicably un-retired and UFC gave him a fight, one in which he got starched by Thiago Santos.
Prior to that, "The Boss" racked up eight straight wins over the cream of the crap, knocking around aging UFC washouts like Marvin Eastman and Houston Alexander, who have a combined age of 87 with 28 losses (18 of them finishes) between them.
And yet here he stands on a UFC main card.
It's not like James Te Huna has been tearing the house down, but we must also take into consideration how cruel Joe Silva has been to this former light heavyweight. The Aussie has faced the likes of Alexander Gustafsson (No. 3), Glover Teixeira (No. 4), and Mauricio Rua (No. 8).
That's just mean.
It doesn't excuse him for the loss to Nate Marquardt, but "The Great" has over 50 fights on his resume with finishes over Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley, among others. He's still a tough out for any middleweight no matter how far he's fallen in recent years (just ask C.B. Dollaway).
Te Huna's biggest issue is his reckless abandon. He's a powerful puncher -- as is Bosse -- but anyone can get their lights shut off during a firefight. I think that guns-blazing attitude is to blame more than his durability, and his extended absence was done to try to right those wrongs.
I think he was successful and will prove it by putting the former hockey player on ice.
Final prediction: Te Huna def. Bosse via knockout
115 lbs.: "Rowdy" Bec Rawlings (6-4) vs. Seo Hee Ham (16-6)
Nostradumbass predicts: It still surprises me how well Bec Rawlings is regarded among the "in" crowd. I'm not sure if that has to do with her marketability -- she does have a unique look and the gift of gab -- but her performances inside the cage do not reflect greatness.
Aggressive, but sloppy.
Rawlings talked a lot of shit about Heather Jo Clark during TUF 20, then got washed away by the "Hurricane" in the live finale. To her credit, "Rowdy" rebounded by submitting Lisa Ellis, but it's also worth noting that Ellis is just 1-5 over the past six years.
That brings us to UFC "Brisbane."
In a straight-up comparison of skill sets, Seo Hee Ham is the better fighter. But UFC does not have an atomweight division, so the 5'2" firecracker -- previously ranked No. 2 in the world at 105 pounds -- started eating breakfast again and resigned herself to competing against bigger opponents.
Rawlings will have marked size and reach advantage.
Ham was 8-3 as a pro kickboxer and her fluid striking transitioned well once she crossed over into MMA. But once again, her stature has denied her a knockout in 22 trips to the cage or ring. I don't expect that to change tomorrow night "Down Under."
While the South Korean will be game for most of the fight, Rawlings will not afford her the room to work. Expect her to make this fight a physical, messy affair, one in which she out-muscles her opponent and wins all three rounds on her aggressiveness.
Final prediction: Rawlings def. Ham via unanimous decision
That's a wrap.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 85 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.
You've heard from me, now let's hear from you. Who gets it done tomorrow night in Brisbane?