Reigning division kingpin Robert Whittaker (Australia) and interim roost-ruler Israel Adesanya (New Zealand) duke it out “Down Under” for Middleweight dominance in Melbourne this Saturday (Oct. 5, 2019) with the undisputed 185-pound title on the line in UFC 243’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event. The co-headliner sees Dan Hooker look to please his hometown fans at the expense of fellow Lightweight tough guy Al Iaquinta, while Tai Tuivasa looks to bounce back against Sergey Spivak up at Heavyweight.
Fight Pass hosts three of the seven UFC 243 “Prelims” undercard matches, so let’s see what all our $9.99/month will get us this time around.
155 lbs.: Brad Riddell vs. Jamie Mullarkey
Brad Riddell (6-1) — training out of the red-hot City Kickboxing gym that produced Israel Adesanya — racked up more than 80 professional kickboxing matches before committing to mixed martial arts (MMA). In his new sport, “Quake” owns a win over future UFC competitor Song Kenan and has won three straight since his lone defeat.
He stands two inches taller than the 5’8” Jamie Mullarkey (12-2).
Mullarkey racked up eight consecutive pro victories before running afoul of Alexander Volkanovski and suffering an upset (technical) knockout in his subsequent bout. His current streak (4-0) has seen him knockout Abel Brites for the Superfight MMA Lightweight championship and defend it in May with a stoppage of Edimar Teixeira.
He has stopped 12 professional opponents, eight by form of knockout.
Between his kickboxing pedigree and his gym affiliation, Riddell is clearly the A-side, but Mullarkey absolutely deserves your attention. He’s won several regional titles and is a razor-sharp boxer in his own right, boasting remarkable speed and power in his shots. Thing is, his wrestling isn’t good enough to make this a ground war, and as skilled as Mullarkey is on the feet, Riddell’s striking experience absolutely laps his.
It also doesn’t help that Mullarkey’s a former Featherweight, while Riddell spent a chunk of his career campaigning at 170 pounds.
Mullarkey’s essentially going into a kickboxing match with a bigger and exponentially more seasoned striker, and his leaky striking defense looks like a game-breaking flaw. He and Riddell duke it out for a bit until one of “Quake’s” left hooks finds the mark.
Prediction: Riddell via first-round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Nadia Kassem vs. Ji Yeon Kim
Four knockouts in less than 90 seconds apiece earned Nadia Kassem (5-1) an Octagon debut, which she made the most of by taking a decision over Alex Chambers in Sydney. Injury kept her out of action for almost 15 months, after which Montana De La Rosa handed her her first career defeat via second-round armbar.
She is two inches shorter than “Fire Fist” and will give up six inches of reach.
Ji Yeon Kim (8-2-2) fell to Lucie Pudilova in her June 2017 Octagon debut, only to pick up consecutive split decisions of Justine Kish and Melissa Fabian. Her last effort saw her welcome Antonina Shevchenko to the Octagon, to whom she lost a unanimous decision.
This will be her first fight in 10 months.
Kassem’s success — like that of fellow Australia Top Team members Alex Gorgees and the Mokhtarian brothers — is the product of unethical matchmaking. That said, she can definitely strike, and as you can probably guess from Kim’s nickname, “Fire Fist” is always good for a scrap. Kassem has a better chance at success against her than against most of the division’s mid- to upper-tier.
Still not a great chance, though. Kim’s massive reach advantage poses a major problem for Kassem, and though Kim has yet to pursue a ground fight, she’s got a few submissions to her credit that suggest she at least has the option to challenge Kassem’s terrible ground game. Kim brawls her way to her first definitive Octagon victory.
Prediction: Kim via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Khalid Taha vs. Bruno Silva
Khalid Taha (13-2) knocked out Keita Ishibashi in the first round of the Rizin Bantamweight Grand Prix, only for Takafumi Otsuka to end his run via guillotine in the quarterfinals. He made his Octagon debut eight months later, unsuccessfully challenging Nad Narimani, but returned soon after to spoil Boston Salmon’s debut via 25-second knockout.
He has scored eight (technical) knockouts and three submissions as a professional.
Bruno Silva (11-3-1) made it onto The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Brazil” 4 with a jaw-breaking front kick of Gustavo Sedorio, impressing Anderson Silva enough to join his team, but tapped to future finalist Dileno Lopes in the opening round. Since then, he’s gone 3-1-1, notably drawing with current UFC standout Casey Kenney.
He’ll give up three inches of height to Taha.
Honestly, I can’t find any good footage of Silva more recent than his Ultimate Fighter Run; all I could scrounge up was the time he got head kicked in seven seconds. What I do know is that he’s a rangy, mobile kickboxer training out of Team Nogueira, which is a nice set of descriptors to have.
The other descriptor, that he has no issue making Flyweight, isn’t quite so nice. Taha’s a physical specimen with crushing power, and even if Silva does do the smart thing and try to exploit the German’s lingering wrestling issues, he lacks the size and strength to do it. Expect “Bulldog” to dazzle with some fancy kicks before running headlong into one of Taha’s bombs.
Prediction: Taha via first-round technical knockout
Four more UFC 243 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including two “Contender Series” standouts among four debuting fighters. Same time as always, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 243 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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