The UFC‘s world tour continues with Dana White and company returning to Australia. Following an exciting and crazy UFC 144 card in Japan, UFC on FX 2: Alves vs. Kampmann brings an entirely different set of fights to the land down under. Featuring the semifinals of the UFC flyweight tournament, as well as what might very well be a “Fight of the Year” candidate in Thiago Alves vs. Martin Kampmann, Aussies and Americans alike (and even Canadians too) will be treated to an awesome night of fights this Friday.
Before the fast-paced four fight main card gets started, the preliminary card will feature seven fights featuring several UFC veterans, a few newcomers, and a hell of a lot of submission specialists. Here’s my breakdown of the fights:
Oli Thompson (9-2) vs. Shawn Jordan (12-3)
Opening up the preliminary card on Facebook, the Brit, Thompson makes his UFC debut after a solid run overseas. The former Strong-Man competitor is currently riding a five fight win streak, having recently captured the UCMMA heavyweight championship. Originally expected to debut at UFC 138 against Philip De Fries before an injury scrapped that bout, Thompson is a legitimate threat with a relatively good grappling game.
Across the cage from him will be Strikeforce import Shawn Jordan. Fresh off of his Strikeforce Challengers 19 victory over Lavar Johnson, the former college football player is an exciting prospect with heavy hands. Fighting out of Jackson’s MMA, the big man has both the skills, and coaching, as well as the athleticism, to take him far in the heavyweight division. If only he was a little taller…
Not much is known about how far Thompson can go in his MMA campaign. Largely untested in his career, he has not faced nearly the level of competition as his opponent. Furthermore, his striking leaves a lot to be desired. With speed and athleticism in his favor, the more likely outcome sees the stone-fisted Jordan finding the Brit’s chin in an entertaining brawl that goes less than five minutes. As with much of the heavyweight division, if it goes much longer than that, it’ll be ugly, but I don’t think it will.
Winner – Shawn Jordan defeats Oli Thompson via TKO Round 1
Mackens Semerzier (6-3 1 NC) vs. Daniel Pineda (16-7)
“Mack Da Menace” looks to get back on track after his most recent bout, a loss to Robert Peralta, was changed to a no contest due to the two fighters clashing heads. Originally scheduled to be a rematch of the two, Peralta was forced to withdraw, and Semerzier now takes on Pineda. Semerzier is a great grappler with nearly all of his wins coming on the mat.
Pineda has been around the block and back. Having finally made his UFC debut in January after compiling a five-fight winning streak, he made short work of Pat Schilling. Pineda is strong finisher with every one of his victories coming by TKO, KO or submission. Pineda steps in on short notice, replacing Peralta, and a win here would certainly make a statement.
These two men are very evenly matched. Both have sufficient striking and solid ground games, and this fight very well might be a toss up. I don’t expect this fight to last long, but I do expect it to be one of the more exciting fights on the card, with Semerzier having the slight edge. It really could go either way though.
Winner – Mackens Semerzier defeats Daniel Pineda via Submission Round 1
T.J. Waldburger (14-6) vs Jake Hecht (11-2)
23-year old Waldburger makes his fourth UFC appearance on this card. Having only suffered one loss under the Zuffa banner to top welterweight Johny Hendricks, Waldburger holds victories over Pat Healy, Pete Spratt, and Mike Stumpf. A submission specialist with 11 of his 14 wins coming that way, Waldburger has never been tapped himself. He is hard to handle for anyone who wants to take him to the mat and is always a threat.
Following elbowing Rich Attonito into a figurative coma, the wrestler Hecht steps into the Octagon on Friday night as a man on a mission. With four straight opponents used as stepping stones to where he is now, the first of two “Hitmen” on the card relies heavily on his wrestling and looks to dominate all of his opponents.
I expect this fight to hit the ground, as that is where each man is strongest. To Hecht’s credit, he has never been submitted, but he has also never faced a grappler quite like Waldburger. I see this fight hitting the mat, likely with Hecht on top, but I think in the end Waldburger gets his hand raised thanks to a slick submission. If I had to call it, I’d go for an Armbar.
Winner – T.J. Waldburger defeats Jack Hecht via Submission Round 1
Kyle Noke (19-5-1) vs. Andrew Craig (6-0)
Well known Australian fighter Noke returns home this Friday night and hopes to put on a hell of a show. The former bodyguard of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, Noke has been in the cage with some great fighters, having fought to a Draw with Hector Lombard, making extemetly short work of Chris Camozzi, and defeating surging welterweight Brian Ebersole. Noke, nicknamed “KO”, favors submissions more often than not but can win a fight just about anywhere.
Stepping in on short notice for Jared Hamman, undefeated Craig has plenty of hype behind him. While relatively unknown, Craig has competed for both Bellator and Legacy Fighting Championship. Less than two years into his professional career, Craig is well-rounded, but seems to favor keeping the fight on the feet.
The biggest factor in this fight, in my opinion, is the ground games of the respective combatants. Noke can make short work of many on the ground, although he sometimes falters against strong wrestlers. Comparably, Craig is no wrestler and his takedown defense is not really that great. I expect Noke to get this fight to the ground, and although Craig is no slouch, he just doesn’t have the grappling chops to compete with Noke on the floor.
Winner – Kyle Noke defeats Andrew Craig via Submission Round 1
Cole Miller (18-5) vs. Steven Siler (19-9)
Longtime UFC fighter Miller returns to the cage for the first time since an August victory over T.J. O’Brien. In what seems to be a recurring theme on this card, Miller is a submission specialist with 13 of his 18 wins coming by way of a tap-out. With solid victories over Ross Pearson and Dan Lauzon to his credit, “Magrinho” looks to build another winning streak inside the octagon and doesn’t care who he has to beat to get it.
“Super” Siler fought his way into the UFC by defeating Josh Clopton at December’s Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale. Siler has done very well for himself as of late, losing only twice in official competition since 2007 (and once in an exhibition on TUF). While Siler doesn’t have many signature victories or career-defining moments to his credit, he is more than capable of finishing a fight, as he is (of course) a submission specialist, and a win over Miller could be the biggest win of his career.
Almost straight out of professional wrestling, an interesting storyline accompanies this fight. Siler defeated Cole’s brother Micah Miller during TUF 14, and Cole is most certainly gunning for redemption here. On the flip side, Siler looks to join his teammate Roland Dulorme in defeating two brothers. A considerably tall featherweight, Miller will have a slight reach advantage and should be able to avoid the strikes of Siler. If this fight hits the ground, as I expect it will, we’ll all be treated to what just may be an excellent grappling clinic. That said, I expect Miller wraps his limbs around the neck of Siler at some point, and gets the finish.
Winner – Cole Miller defeats Steven Siler via Submission Round 2
Anthony Perosh (12-6) vs Nick Penner (11-1)
Australian grappling wiz (my god these submission specialists) “The Hippo” looks to build on his two fight winning streak in the UFC. Following a terrible performance against Mirko Filipovic, Perosh decided to drop down in divisions and put together back-to-back Rear Naked Choke victories over Tom Blackledge and Cyrille Diabate. While not necessarily the most consistent of fighters, Perosh is not afraid of fighting on the feet or on the mat and will take the fight to anyone that gets matched up with him.
The Canadian Penner looks to take advantage of his momentum coming into his UFC debut. With an eight-fight winning streak behind him, the well-rounded Canuck has not really gone against any significantly great opponents, but he has the skills to finish fights and has often done so in the first round. It was relatively difficult to find relevant footage of Penner, but the opposition he’s faced leads me to wonder if he’s ready for the big stage.
Having faced higher level opposition, having more experience, and having great grappling skills, I expect Perosh to have the advantage. While he does lack the striking necessary to compete at the higher level of the division, he has beaten dangerous strikers with disregard for their abilities as a whole. While the mystery of Penner’s game may carry him to victory, I expect his winning streak is halted, as he ends up on the wrong end of a submission.
Winner – Anthony Perosh defeats Nick Penner via Submission Round 1
James Te Huna (13-5) vs Aaron Rosa (17-4)
Rounding out the preliminary card, the New Zealander Te Huna looks to extend his win streak to two in this light heavyweight battle. A violent striker with wins over Igor Pokrajac, Perosh, and Ricardo Romero, Te Huna has lightning fast hands and can hold his own on the ground as well, although he clearly prefers to keep it standing. Looking to make a climb up the division, Te Huna will look to put his opponent to sleep on Friday and make the home crowd happy.
After an embarrassing performance against Joey Beltran, Rosa returned to light heavyweight and scored a decision victory over Matt Lucas in November. The well-rounded Rosa loves to scrap, has submissions in his game, and is relatively hard to finish. The tough Texan will look to build his own two-fight streak here and will likely rely on his power and durability to guide him to victory.
Looking at this fight, I do like Rosa’s chances. His toughness and well-roundedness are assets for him, and he can be a headache for Te Huna, as well as many others in the division. Having said that, I don’t feel like he really excels at any aspect of MMA, and that might be his downfall. He tends to get hit, and you just don’t want to be on the wrong end of Te Huna’s fists. Ultimately I think that will be the difference here.
Winner – James Te Huna defeats Aaron Rosa via TKO Round 3
Getting underway on Facebook at about 5:30 PM EST, and moving to Fuel TV thirty minutes later, the preliminary card should be a hell of an exciting few hours of fights. Tomorrow, I’ll post my breakdown of the four-fight main card, as well as a look at the preliminary card for this Saturday’s Strikeforce: Tate vs Rousey lineup.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC