Another weekend, another UFC card. And just like the past few cards, this event doesn't really offer much. Originally, top middleweight contenders Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza were scheduled to battle in the main event of the card. But due to injury, that bout has been scrapped and now we have a bout between rising contenders Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson in the main event slot.
What: UFC Fight Night 101
Where: Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
When: Saturday, Nov. 26. The two-three UFC Fight Pass prelims begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 1 preliminary card begins at 8 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card begins airing on FOX Sports 1 at 10 p.m. ET.
Robert Whittaker vs. Derek Brunson
Both these guys have been killing it lately in the middleweight division. Whittaker is on a five-fight winning streak with wins over Rafael Natal, Uriah Hall, Brad Tavares, Clint Hester, Mike Rhodes, while Brunson is also on a five-fight streak with victories over Hall, Roan Carneiro, Sam Alvey, Ed Herman, and Lorenz Larkin. The winner of this fight solidifies his position as a serious contender in the 185-pound title picture.
My pick for this fight changed when the bout was moved to the main event of the card, turning it into a five-round contest. Brunson might not be the better striker in this one, but I don't think he's good enough to hang in there with Whittaker for 25 minutes. I also think Brunson has the edge in the grappling department, and has the tools to takedown and control Whittaker in the fight. However, I think he can pull that off in three rounds and not five. Whittaker will have the hometown advantage in this one, and I see his striking being superior than Brunson's on Saturday night. I see Brunson's lack of head movement being a issue for him, as Whittaker has very precise striking. The Australian's cardio and high pace will also be a major key in this bout. I see Whittaker having some issues in the beginning, but coming back in the later rounds to take a decision or even a late finish.
Jake Matthews vs. Andrew Holbrook
This should be a fun fight. Holbrook is a decent fighter with very little holes in his game. He's very dangerous on the ground, and he's always looking for a submission. Mathews, on the other hand, has a very similar style, but better. The Australian fighter has solid stand up, and can hit very hard. Like Holbrook, Mathews has a solid ground game and he's not the type to stall, as he's always looking for a finish. I think Mathews is the stronger and more dominant grappler here.
Mathews has a clear advantage in the striking department, and a slight advantage on the ground. He's also the better athlete. I see this fight going well for Mathews wherever the fight goes.
Akhmedov is a tough, wild brawler with a dominant top ground game and solid takedowns. Noke is crafty veteran with well-rounded skills, but his crisp stand up is what stands out from his fight game. Both these guys are in need of a win, as the they are both currently on two-fight losing streaks.
This fight will come down to how well can Akhmedov implement his takedowns, and how well will he pace himself in the fight. If Akhmedov takes Noke down, I see Noke having a hard time getting back up. I think this will be a close decision with Akhmedov doing just enough to get the win here.
Yusuke Kasuya vs. Alex Volkanovski
Australia's Volkanovski will be making his UFC debut, taking on Japan's Kasuya. Volkanovski is a pressure fighter with powerful striking and a good wrestling base. Meanwhile, Kasuya is the smoother, and more fluid fighter, as he's always bouncing on his feet and always quickly moving in and out. Kasuya also has some wrestling of his own.
I favor Kasuya if this fight stays on the feet, but I see Volkanovski taking the fight to the ground. He doesn't want to take any chances with Kasuya's striking. Volkanovski should have the advantage on the ground, and shouldn't have too may issues closing the distance on the feet to be able to get a takedown.
Khalil Rountree vs. Tyson Pedro
Tough fight to call, as I couldn't find much footage from Pedro, so it's hard to tell what level of MMA he's working with. From what I could see Pedro is a strong, solid wrestler that can also throw hands if needed. And as we know, Rountree can have issues with wrestlers, since he mainly relies on his striking. Both guys have similar experience level with Pedro being 4-0, and Rountree being 4-1 as professional fighters.
I see Rountree's takedown defense holding up, leaving it up to his striking to pull out the win Saturday night.
Seo Hee Ham vs. Danielle Taylor
Ham is one of the better fighters in the 115-pound division, but she's failed to have the success she should be getting due to the amount of size and reach she gives up in her fights. This time around, Ham will be fighting someone with a similar size, and that's where you compare skill sets. Ham is a very good counter puncher and utilizes mostly straight punches. She's quick with her movement and her hands, and stays composed in her fights. Taylor might be the better athlete here, but she throws heavy, looping punches that are very susceptible to get countered. I see this being a stand-up affair where short, quick punches get the victory.
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Rich Walsh def. Jonathan Meunier
Ben Nguyen def. Geane Herrera
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Jenel Lausa def. Yao Zhikui