UFC Fight Night 121 promises to be a very Australian centric card in Sydney tonight and Fabricio Werdum has cemented that theme by being involved in a boomerang-related altercation earlier in the week.
Headlined by the boomerang enthusiast himself, the Brazilian heavyweight will be looking to put himself in title contention with a win while his opponent, Marcin Tybura, will hope to continue his rise through the 265 lbs rankings and cement his position at the top end of the division.
Elsewhere, there are a few exciting bouts such as Tim Means vs Belal Muhammad, Jake Matthews vs Bojan Velickovic, Elias Theodorou vs Daniel Kelly and Alexander Volkanovski vs Shane Young.
Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1) vs Marcin Tybura (16-2)
Werdum’s most recent bout in the cage provided a stark reminder of just how talented he is on the ground.
The Brazilian has spent the majority of his second UFC stint showing off his improving striking arsenal but against Walt Harris at UFC 216, Werdum displayed that there are levels to the fight game and on the mat, Werdum is king in the heavyweight division.
For Marcin Tybura, this will be the toughest test of his career. Tybura tends to shine in the clinch but taking the initiative to engage in that position brings the worry that Werdum will pull guard or find trips against the cage. The Polish fighter also has a decent kicking game at his disposal but again, they provide a high risk-reward situation with Werdum’s grappling looming over the contest.
In all honesty, I can’t see how Tybura will find a way to win this bout outside of a big counter or Werdum being off of his game due to his boomerang extra-curricular activities.
Pick: Fabricio Werdum
Bec Rawlings (7-6) vs Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4)
Clark is taking this bout at a new weight class and on short notice which is never a great sign.
Clark will be confident in how much damage Rawlings tends to take in her fights and will no doubt look to employ a counter-striking strategy as Rawlings pushes forward.
Ultimately, however, you cannot overlook the nature that this bout has come together. As long as Clark doesn’t bring an early end to the bout, I can see Rawlings taking over as the fight wears on.
Pick: Bec Rawlings
Tim Means (27-8-1) vs Belal Muhammad (12-2)
Muhammad is a seriously tough cookie at welterweight and Means loves to dish out barbing strikes.
For Muhammad to win, he’ll have to look to his wrestling but he has never really held an opponent down for a long stretch of time. Muhammad does have some nice leg kicks when striking and has the gas tank needed to keep going into the third round.
In his opponent Tim Means, Muhammad will have to contend with ‘The Dirty Bird’s’ physicality and his well-rounded striking ability. In the clinch Means’ elbows are scathing and at range, he knows how to pick his strikes.
Muhammad will want to make a fast start to capitalise on Means’ tendency to come out the gates slow but his two losses have come against strikers at the level of Means. It’s a tough call but I think Means’ ability to deal damage will prove decisive.
Pick: Tim Means
Jake Matthews (11-3) vs Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1)
Velickovic took a beating in his last fight against Darren Till and hasn’t really got going in his UFC career thus far.
The Serbian does have good striking ability and matched up well against Till in terms of physicality which will bode him well against Jake Matthews.
For Matthews, the Australian will grind away at Velickovic and look to keep the bigger man pinned to the mat.
Questions will likely be asked of Matthews’ chin by Velickovic but I think the relentless pressure of the takedown will see Matthews’ come out on top in front of his home country.
Pick: Jake Matthews
Elias Theodorou (13-2) vs Daniel Kelly (13-2)
Kelly is 40-years old but has put together an impressive run during his UFC career.
I worry for how much his knockout loss to Derek Brunson will take out of the older man but his dirty style – in the best meaning of the word – is a problem for most outside of the top 15.
Theodorou meanwhile will look to his kicks at distance and take as little damage as possible.
This fight is another tough call but Theodorou’s distance management and younger athleticism can see him to a decision.
Pick: Elias Theodorou
Alexander Volkanovski (15-1) vs Shane Young (11-3)
Volkanovski is a real prospect at featherweight and Young is taking this bout at short notice.
I doubt this goes well for Young.
Pick: Alexander Volkanovski
(Last Predictions: 3/6, Total: 91/149, 61% Success Rate)
(2016: 61% Success Rate)