The UFC's Fight Night series carries on as they return 'Down Under' with a heavyweight collision between top-ranked contenders. Stipe Miocic is looking to get back on the winning track, but so is Mark Hunt. The winner hasn't been promised anything, but can't be far from a title shot.
Will Miocic prove he's the next best thing in the heavyweight division or is Hunt prepared to show he's got one last run in him?
What: UFC Fight Night 65 (UFC Fight Night: Miocic vs. Hunt)
Where: Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide, Australia
When: Saturday, the eight-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 7:45 p.m. ET and the four-fight main card kicks off on Fight Pass at 11 p.m.
Stipe Miocic vs. Mark Hunt
If you look at the cases in the UFC where Hunt has lost a striking battle, it's been attacks from lower body extremities. Perhaps Fabricio Werdum's flying knee or Junior dos Santos' spinning heel kick were just coincidence. Or maybe not. In the case of JDS, it allowed him to work at range after battling in boxing distance. In the case of Werdum, the entire flying knee attack was a total surprise. If you're more likely to just throw hands, your risk jumps pretty dramatically against Hunt. His speed is underrated, his power is seemingly still all there as are his finishing instincts.
Still, I think Miocic will use his legs to set himself up for success here. He has a great jab, an incredible ability to take a shot and plenty of power punching of his own. He's also got decent wrestling if he needs it, strong and consistent footwork and more. He takes risks, yes, but that might work in his favor this time.
This is an extremely close contest, at least on paper. Whittaker is probably better in the clinch and has the better punching power as well as the slightly more unusual striking skills. Tavares is a bit more meat and potatoes, but has more bases covered in terms of the totality of the mixed martial arts game. A call for either is easily justifiable, but I'll ever so slightly lean Tavares. I think he'll largely be able to stay away from Whittaker's power punching with consistent footwork, tie up when he needs to and perhaps even work from top position after a lengthy takedown battle against the fence. It may not be pretty, but it might just work.
Anthony Perosh vs. Sean O'Connell
I can't say I'm particularly high on either guy, but despite his advanced age, the proactive offense of Perosh is probably enough to get the job done. O'Connell packs a punch and can withstand a war, but Perosh is probably better at putting combinations together. He's also demonstrably better on the ground should the fight end up there. I like the Hippo's chances here.
This is a close fight, if we're being honest. Vick is probably a little quicker than Matthews, a touch more polished in the grappling department and has more UFC fights under his belt. Matthews has shown flashes of brilliance, but is still rough around the edges. That said, I don't think Vick has the wrestling to truly trouble Matthews. I also believe Matthews age means his growth curve between fights is huge. For those reasons, I'll side with the native Australian.
From the preliminary card:
Hatsu Hioki def. Dan Hooker
Jonavin Webb def. Kyle Noke
Dan Kelly def. Sam Alvey
Bec Rawlings def. Lisa Ellis
Dylan Andrews def. Brad Scott
Alex Chambers def. Kailin Curran
Brendan O'Reilly def. Vik Grujic
Alptekin Ozkilic def. Ben Nguyen