Tonight (Sat., Dec. 1, 2018), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Adelaide, Australia, for UFC Fight Night 142. In the main event, former Heavyweight kingpin Junior dos Santos will test up-and-coming Aussie Tai Tuivasa in a fight unlikely to last five rounds. Before that, though, the FOX Sports 1-televised main card will feature a number of Australia’s best, including the retirement bout of the legendary Mark Hunt (details). In addition, MMAmania.com’s Jesse Holland will preview and predict the main event as we get closer to showtime later today.
Heavyweight: Mark Hunt vs. Justin Willis
Best Win for Hunt? Derrick Lewis For Willis? Chase Sherman
Current Streak: Two losses for the legend, seven victories for Willis (three in the UFC)
X-Factor: Willis’ improvement
How these two match up: I hope you all appreciated Mark Hunt for how awesome he’s been over the years. He’s two decades deep into life as a professional combat sports athlete, and every single fight has been gutsy and entertaining. The former kickboxer remains a serious knockout threat, and his takedown defense is solid as well.
Trying to ruin Hunt’s retirement will be Justin Willis, a big ol’ wrestler from American Kickboxing Academy. “Big Pretty” is deceptively fast with some legitimate power in his hands, though he does prefer the takedown to brawls.
Skipping right to the point: I’m picking Hunt, and it isn’t a nostalgic pick. A younger wrestler seems like a risky foe for his retirement match, but the 44 year old remains quite difficult to take down by anyone other than Curtis Blaydes and Stipe Miocic. Is Willis on their level? Maybe in a few years, but he’s not there yet.
As such, we have a kickboxing match on our hands. There’s always a chance Willis clips “The Super Samoan,” but I’ll happily side with the brick-fisted veteran in a brawl.
Prediction: Hunt via knockout
Light Heavyweight: Tyson Pedro vs. Mauricio Rua
Best Win for Pedro? Khalil Rountree Jr. For Rua? Lyoto Machida
Current Streak: One loss for each man
X-Factor: Rua’s brawling instincts
How these two match up: Pedro may still show his inexperience on occasion, but that’s hardly an unacceptable flaw given he’s still a prospect. On the plus side, Pedro has knockout power and very good jiu-jitsu. Meanwhile, Rua is no longer a Muay Thai wrecking machine, but the veteran Brazilian still has plenty of knockout power with some tricks up his sleeve.
This is one of those fights where I fully expect one man to dominate the other. Would it surprise me if Pedro puts down Rua with the first clean shot he lands? Not at all. At the same time, Pedro’s kickboxing is technically wonky, and Rua is nasty when he employs a technical strategy.
It’s very possible that Rua picks him up.
Ultimately, I’ll side with the prospect for a simple reason: Rua fights smart like 50% of the time and just throws the other half. If Rua brawls here, he loses. If he fights smart, “Shogun” has a very good chance, but it still only takes a single hard shot from Pedro to ruin all his good work.
Prediction: Pedro via knockout
Welterweight: Jake Matthews vs. Tony Martin
Best Win for Matthews? Li Jingliang For Martin? Ryan LaFlare
Current Streak: Three wins for Matthews, two for Martin
X-Factor: Matthews’ inconsistency
How these two match up: A pair of young, talented, and well-rounded Welterweights who push a solid pace? These two match up quite well, at least in terms of fan entertainment and potential for intriguing scrambles and exchanges.
Neither man has any major weaknesses, but they do have their preferences. Matthews is a bit more physical with a slight wrestling edge, whereas Martin is probably the superior pure submission threat. In addition, their stand up styles are simply different, as Matthews likely to bounce in with athletic combinations, whereas Martin has really committed to a counter punching approach.
I fully expect a close fight. Stylistically, Matthews is more likely to score points (combinations, takedowns), but Martin is more likely to do real damage or finish the fight (with his counter cross or kimura).
The safe pick is Matthews by decision, otherwise you’re betting that Martins catches him (difficult) or that the judges appreciate anything aside from top control (impossible).
Prediction: Matthews via decision
Light Heavyweight: Paul Craig vs. Jim Crute
Best Win for Craig? His Hail Mary triangle of Magomed Ankalaev For Crute? Steven Warby
Current Streak: One UFC victory for Craig, eight regional wins for Crute
X-Factor: Craig’s opportunistic jiu-jitsu
How these two match up: Paul Craig is an odd fighter. The Scott has nasty jiu-jitsu but nothing significant in the way of kickboxing or wrestling. Crute “The Brute,” meanwhile, has dominated the Australian scene, defeating a fairly high-level of competition compared to many signees.
Craig fights are impossible to pick confidently. Twice now, he has pulled off submissions from his back during fights he was otherwise losing badly. Against Ankalaev, Craig was battered from pillar-to-post for 14 straight minutes before landing a triangle choke tap out with a single second left on the clock!
So he’s not great, but he might just win by submission anyway.
Crute has a background in Karate and Judo, which is probably enough to keep this fight standing, where he’ll have a considerable edge against the awkward “Bearjew.” He should be able to smash Craig at range and in the clinch, but at this point, you’d be a fool to underestimate Craig’s ability to catch a submission out of nowhere, so hopefully he’s wise enough to avoid the mat.
Prediction: Crute via knockout
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 142 fight card later this evening (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.