The second UFC event of the weekend emanates from Adelaide, Australia this Saturday night as some of the best fighers from the Oceanic region take to the Octagon.
In the main event, old takes on young in the heavyweight division as former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos takes on Australia’s own Tai Tuivasa.
Elsewhere in similar veteran versus prospect match-ups, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua takes on Tyson Pedro while Mark Hunt will fight out his last UFC bout against ‘Big Pretty’ Justin Willis.
Junior dos Santos (19-5) vs. Tai Tuivasa (10-0)
I think if Tuivasa is to make the upset here, he’ll have to draw Dos Santos into a brawl and keep his opponent against the cage.
Out in the open of the Octagon, Dos Santos is a nightmare to deal with for any heavyweight as his boxing ability is seemingly at a level above at heavyweight. With a truly excellent jab, Dos Santos can set the tempo of the fight and pick and choose when to follow up with combinations or rattle off more stinging shots.
Tuivasa meanwhile is a bit of a plodder in terms of footwork and so he’ll need to try and be the aggressor and bully Dos Santos into positions he doesn’t want to be in.
Ultimately, I think this is too much too soon for Tuivasa and he’s a victim of circumstance as the heavyweight division is so thin.
After struggling with Andrei Arlovski, I think Dos Santos will be too savvy for the 25-year old and the former champion will pick up a wide decision win.
Pick: Junior dos Santos
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (25-11) vs. Tyson Pedro (7-2)
Despite a recent resurgence of sorts, Shogun is past his sell-by date.
He’s capable of using his veteran savvy against the lesser talented fighters at 205 lbs but his durability is a big question mark.
While Pedro has shown signs of inexperience and poor choices in the cage, Pedro can hit hard and do so accurately. Add in his more aggressive submission game and I think Pedro will get the stoppage win after hurting Shogun.
Pick: Tyson Pedro
Mark Hunt (13-13-1, 1 NC) vs. Justin Willis (7-1)
I think this is a really tough fight to call.
Hunt has fought the best of the best and will be looking to sign off on his UFC career with a win for a supportive crowd.
Willis meanwhile has all the tools to be a big player at heavyweight but this is a big step-up in competition from Chase Sherman.
With Hunt having more to his striking arsenal and what you would presume would be a strong motivation in front of his home fans, I think Hunt can dominate the stand-up exchanges and offer a bit too much than Willis has experienced thus far in the Octagon.
Pick: Mark Hunt
Jake Matthews (14-3) vs. Tony Martin (14-4)
Tony Martin has made big improvements in his recent outings and the move to welterweight has seemingly clicked for him.
Martin has always been a talented grappler but his gas tank has improved with a jump up in weight class and his striking has markedly been refined.
Matthews, however, is a little further down the line at welterweight but I’m wary of his striking being able to contend with Martin.
For Matthews to win, I think he’ll have to keep this fight on the mat and hold top position which he is capable to do.
This is a tough fight and it could go either way but Matthews’ home advantage and better finish rate makes me very cautiously side with the younger man.
Pick: Jake Matthews
Suman Mokhtarian (8-0) vs. Sodiq Yusuff (7-1)
Mokhtarian will have to use his wrestling and durability to get by here as Yusuff is the better athlete and more technical and powerful in his stand-up.
Mokhtarian may make this a slog to win but I think Yusuff is a decent talent and should have the skills to get the win here.
Pick: Sodiq Yusuff
Jim Crute (8-0) vs. Paul Craig (10-2)
Both Crute and Craig are slick with their submissions but rough around the edges elsewhere.
Craig likes to throw kicks in his stand-up and not much else but Crute’s power may be the difference maker here in what could be a scrappy affair.
Pick: Jim Crute
(Last Predictions: 4/6, Total: 103/174, 59% Success Rate)
(2017: 60% Success Rate)