The UFC will be returning to New Zealand this year and the event could very well be showcasing one of the country’s biggest stars, as Kiwi Mark Hunt vs. Derrick Lewis in currently in the works to headline the main event of the Auckland card according to MMAJunkie.com. This event will be taking place on June 10th, 2017 at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand and will be entitled UFC Fight Night 110 and will be shown live on Fox Sports 1.The UFC has not held an event in New Zealand since UFC Fight Night 43 in June of 2014 – Hunt was not on that card.
Mark Hunt (12-11-1-1) will be coming into this fight with Lewis following the loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 209 earlier this month. Hunt suffered a third round KO and is currently under medical suspension due to a leg injury suffered at some point during that loss – a medical suspension from which the 42-year-old will be eligible to return on April 19th. Hunt is ranked seventh in the official UFC rankings, just below Lewis.
Derrick Lewis (18-4-1) is currently riding a six-fight win streak. Of his last six wins, five of them have come by way of KO or TKO, including two performance of the night bonuses. His most recent win against top ten ranked Travis Browne rocketed Lewis to number six on the official rankings and has put him in title contention talk. Lewis has headlined the past two events he fought on, and appears set to do so again at UFC Fight Night 101.
Both of these fighters are known for their power and knockout abilities. As a main event, this will be set as a five round fight, but with the brute strength and finishing tendencies of these men, there appears little chance of it going the distance. The fight has not been made official by the UFC as of yet, and cannot be until Hunt is cleared from medical suspension. There are currently no other fights scheduled for this event, but as the event is still 3 months away, it will be some time yet before the card fills up.
GSP vs Robert Whittaker is Easily the Best Fight to Make at Middleweight
GSP became the new middleweight champion of the UFC this past weekend, and many questions have been asked his way. Is he officially the greatest of all time? Who does he fight next? Does he stay at middleweight?
The G.O.A.T. conversation will never be settled completely. There will always be separation in opinions between Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, GSP, Demetrious Johnson, Fedor Emelianenko, and some even say Conor McGregor is the greatest, simply due to the fact that he is the first ever UFC champion to hold two belts simultaneously. Regardless of how that conversation is driven, the biggest question that should be the only concern at this point is the immediate plans for the new middleweight champion.
Where does GSP go next, and who does he fight?
Well, the fact of the matter is, it would not make sense for GSP to go down to the welterweight division again. 170-pounds is alive and kicking at the moment, with new stars emerging such as Darren Till and Mike Perry, to return of veterans like Carlos Condit, and also new additions to the division like Rafael dos Anjos. St-Pierre would have to stay extremely active in order to keep the division flowing.
At the age of 36 and having just returned to MMA last weekend, St-Pierre is unlikely to stay as active as he used to be when he was the king of the welterweight division. Plus, would it really make much sense for him to get on his old diet again in order to make the welterweight weight limit? He looked massive last night, all bulked up, and even seemed like the bigger fighter against Bisping, who used to fight at 205-pounds.
On the other hand, if he decides to stay at middleweight, which is what UFC president Dana White stated would happen yesterday, then there is one clear path for him to take and based on his statements on his contract, will be forced to take: Robert Whittaker.
Whittaker won the interim middleweight belt earlier this year against Yoel Romero at UFC 213, which was a razor close fight that went to Whittaker at the end of 5 rounds. Since then, Whittaker has been sidelined due to the injury he suffered during the fight, damaging his ligament in the left knee.
4 months later, he has seemed to have healed up perfectly, as he was in the arena for the madness last night and even answered a few questions from the media, stating that he is healthy now. The fight against Whittaker would be the best that the UFC could put on at this point in 185-pounds division on a few different levels.
GSP and Whittaker have a lot in common. Starting with the most obvious, they both used to fight at welterweight. Which means that neither fighter will have a massive size advantage. This brings the match up nearly even as far as physicality is concerned.
Then comes the match up itself. St-Pierre and Whittaker both represent the very definition of being ‘well-rounded’. Whittaker, although not an offensive wrestler, proved that his defensive wrestling was second to none in his fight against Romero, a former Olympic wrestler. And while GSP is not necessarily the best wrestler in pure wrestling, his ability to wrestle in MMA is phenomenal due to his timing and fight IQ, which makes this fight even more intriguing to find out whether Whittaker can defend GSP’s takedown attempts.
This fight also represents the UFC an opportunity to see a birth of a superstar. Whittaker, while not a huge talker, is a very marketable fighter especially over in Australia and New Zealand. If he is able to defeat GSP, who’s arguably the biggest draw in the history of the company, it would boost Whittaker’s popularity up an extraordinary amount. And being only 26 years old, Whittaker has the tools and potential to be a dominant champion, much like St-Pierre in his “prime”.
Booking this fight would also clear up the confusing state of the middleweight division. With Bisping’s reign as the champion coming to an end, some hope was born for other contenders in the division. Fighters like Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Yoel Romero, Jacare Souza were having an extremely hard time getting a hold of Michael Bisping during his reign, and with a new champion now and possible unification of the belts soon, the contenders will have a goal to work for again.
The fight is one of the best fights that UFC could put on for the fans right now and one that can happen as early as February of 2018, which is when the UFC returns to Australia with a PPV. If it can come to fruition, then it will easily be one of the best fights of the year and one that all the fans can count the days down to.
5 Things We Learned from UFC Fight Night Melbourne
The hangover that is lingering following the drama at UFC 205, showed no sign of abating as once again the UFC’s globe-trotting continued to Melbourne, Australia. Despite being a lackluster card from top to bottom, with the exception of a few fights, the night of fighting consisted of a high number of decision victories – ten to be exact. The drama all unfolded in the first round of a wild main event between Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson. Although there was a lack of exciting finishes, there were certainly some memorable performances in Melbourne.
1. Nguyen reminds us of the hype
Fighters tend to be judged, in a large part, on their ability to bounce back from a defeat. Following his initial loss to Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor received resounding praise for his grace in defeat and his ability to return unfazed by it. Ben Nguyen, came up short in his last bout against fellow rising prospect Louis Smolka. Nguyen put up a valiant showing in that scrap, a performance that merited widespread praise. “Ben 10” followed up that brave showing on his return in Melbourne. Taking on the always tough, Geane Herrera, Ben started smoothly and picked up speed as the rounds went on. Moving forward, while throwing strikes comfortably from either stance, Nguyen outworked, outfought and outclassed Herrera. “Ben 10” gave everyone a subtle reminder tonight, exactly why he is highly touted in the flyweight division.
2. Kelly shows no signs of slowing down
Daniel Kelly showcased a granite chin and a huge heart in his clash with Chris Camozzi. Wearing a gruesome mask of crimson for the majority of their war due to a slicing elbow from Camozzi in the first round, Kelly waded forward through countless strikes, pressuring Camozzi from bell to bell. Kelly, the Australian native ended the fight on top landing big elbows, and the 39-year-old judo standout received a huge standing ovation from the Melbourne crowd. A massive win for Dan Kelly, and a feel-good moment for those in attendance in Melbourne.
One rule is very clear in mixed martial arts, and that is, a fighter cannot call their own timeouts. Gesturing to the referee during his clash with Anderson Silva, nearly cost Michael Bisping the fight, and it certainly cost him a sore head. The main card curtain opener saw Seo Hee Ham, twice stop without the referee’s consent. Two eye pokes went unnoticed by referee John Sharpe, causing Ham to briefly stutter twice. In the third round, it led to Danielle Taylor, leaping in with a flurry of hard shots to the head that dazed Ham. This strong finish to the fight likely enabled Taylor to steal a close decision over Ham who is now on a two-fight losing skid. It seems each week there is a strange call from referees and this was prevalent once again in Melbourne.
Pedro shines bright in home debut
Dan Kelly, received a hero’s reception as he took the decision win early on in the night, however, the response for his fellow Australian Tyson Pedro may have taken the cake. Pedro submitted Khalil Rountree inside one minute of the first round with a rear naked choke. That doesn’t tell the whole story of the fight, though. After being dropped by a vicious Rountree left, in the opening exchange, the UFC debutant had to weather the early storm. After surviving the knockdown, the momentum swung Pedro’s way after he landed a takedown immediately progressing to the back mount. Utilizing both hooks, Pedro flattened Rountree out and sunk in the choke. A wonderful moment for the debutant, who incredibly managed the first finish of the evening.
Robert Whittaker is ready for the top 5
After a fairly anticlimactic card, the main event did not disappoint. Right from the opening bell Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson went at it hammer and tong, with neither giving ground. Both men were shaken early in the rushed striking exchanges, and Whittaker eventually took advantage of Brunson’s recklessness. The New Zealander, showed the diversity in his striking, landing a short counter in the pocket. A beautifully measured high kick, followed by a barrage of ground strikes sealed the deal for Whittaker. It’s the biggest win of Robert’s young career and he deserves an opponent in the top 5 of the division in his next outing.
Brock Lesnar to Fight Mark Hunt at UFC 200
On ESPN Sports Center today, Brock Lesnar announced that his opponent for UFC 200 will be none other than “The Super Samoan” Mark Hunt.
Lesnar suffered back to back losses in his last two MMA bouts, and said that the way his MMA career was cut short back in 2011 due to diverticulitis had been eating away at him inside for some time and that he “didn’t want to be looking back 20 years from now saying ‘son, you should have done that.'” regarding a return to the sport. Lesnar also revealed that he was the one who instigated his return, saying that he “called 3 months ago” about his intentions to once again fight for the UFC.
Lesnar was then asked about his motives for returning, and stated categorically that his reasons were not financial, even though he was going to be handsomely rewarded in that regard. “It isn’t about the money for me,” he began. “You can’t step into the octagon just for money. This is in my heart. But let me tell you, it’s a boat load of money. There’s a lot of zeros.”
Fans will be wondering if this fight at UFC 200 will be a one-time thing, but Lesnar was non-committal on the issue. “It will be (a success). We will cross that road when we get there. I’ve got Summerslam in August so I’m a busy beaver. One thing at a time.”
Lesnar was, of course, the UFC heavyweight champion from 2008 until 2010 and headlined UFC 100 in July, 2009, emerging with a second round TKO demolition of his long-time nemesis, Frank Mir. At UFC 200, Lesnar gets the chance to exorcise the demons that have haunted him since his enforced retirement due to his illness – something which he claimed on Sports Center that was the main factor for his losses to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, stating that he “didn’t lose to my foe. I lost to diverticulitis.”
In Mark Hunt, Lesnar faces a type of opponent who many believe to be his kryptonite – a power puncher – and they do not come much more powerful than Hunt. In his 12 professional wins, Hunt has amassed 9 knockouts, including finishes of Frank Mir, Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson. For Hunt, who still has aims of fighting for a UFC title at the age of 42, a win over “The Beast Incarnate” at UFC 200 would be colossal, and arguably, the biggest of his competitive career.
UFC 200 will take place from the newly built T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 9. The card will be headlined by a UFC light heavyweight unification bout between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, with Lesnar vs Hunt expected to act as the co-main event. The full card currently stands as follows:
UFC 200 (Bout order TBC):
- Daniel Cormier (c) vs Jon Jones (ic) – UFC Light Heavyweight Title
- Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt
- Miesha Tate (c) vs Amanda Nunes – UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title
- Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar – UFC Interim Featherweight Title
- Cain Velasquez vs Travis Browne
- Cat Zingano vs Julianna Peña
- Johny Hendricks vs Kelvin Gastelum
- TJ Dillashaw vs Raphael Assuncao
- Sage Northcutt vs Enrique Marin
- Gegard Mousasi vs Derek Brunson
- Diego Sanchez vs Joe Lauzon
- Jim Miller vs Takanori Gomi
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