This weekend the UFC returns to Australia for the first time since its monumental showcase last year when Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey in front of over 50-thousand fans at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. On March 20 the UFC is back down under, this time in Brisbane, and headlined with New Zealand’s Mark Hunt facing off against Las Vegas native and former UFC heavyweight champion, Frank Mir.
Aged 41, the career resurgance of ‘The Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt is still strong. At UFC 193 in Melbourne Hunt bounced back from a pair of TKO losses to both top contender Stipe Miocic and current heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. Hunt faced former title challenger Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva in a rematch of their memorable draw in 2013 and stopped the larger man with a first round TKO of his own.
Hunt’s reputation for possessing and incredible iron-jaw may not be as strong as it once was, now in the late stages of his career and with significant mileage. However, the extreme power in his hands evidently remains and the 2001 K-1 kickboxing World Grand Prix champion will in all likelihood be aiming to keep this fight where he wants it, on the feet.
Former heavyweight champion Frank Mir completes this clash of styles with a highly reputable submission game as a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert. At 6’3″ the 36-year-old is 5 inches taller than Hunt and will also posses a 5-inch reach advantage. In the pre-fight build up Mir has expressed that he feels better than ever and also beleives himself capable of finishing Hunt on the feet. It’s safe to say that a striking approach from Mir would see him enter dangerous territory against and proven power puncher, but neverthless, he has shown effective boxing technique in the past, most notably against former Pride and UFC champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who himself was a known boxing enthusiast.
In contrast to Hunt, Mir returns following a unanimous decision loss to former champion Andrei Arlovski after a pair of KO victories against Antonio Silva and Todd Duffee, adding serious weight to his reputation for striking. Nevertheless, Hunt has never been known to enjoy the ground game and is often focussed on defensive grappling in order to keep the bout standing, and so a takedown could be the wisest approach for Mir.
Either man, particularly Hunt, could change the course of this fight with a single strike, but a single takedown from Mir could see the crowd favourite dragged into deep waters.
The event takes place over the same weekend as Australia’s first Amateur MMA Nationals at the Arnold Classic in Melbourne, sanctioned by the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation of Australia (IMMAFA). Read more here: http://arnoldclassic.com.au/fight-sports/
UFC Fight Night also bears significance in the region for the New Zealand Mixed Martial Arts Federation (NZMMAF). The organisation’s recent sport recognition permits it to profit from betting on MMA in New Zealand for the very first time, commencing with UFC Fight Night 85.
IMMAFA delegates will be in attendance at the UFC show, alongside IMMAF president Kerrith Brown who is visiting the region.
UFC Fight Night 85 full card – Main Card on Fox Sports 1:
|Heavyweight||Mark Hunt||vs.||Frank Mir|
|Welterweight||Neil Magny||vs.||Hector Lombard|
|Lightweight||Jake Matthews||vs.||Johnny Case|
|Middleweight||Dan Kelly||vs.||Antônio Carlos Júnior|
|Middleweight||James Te-Huna||vs.||Steve Bossé|
|Women’s Strawweight||Bec Rawlings||vs.||Seohee Ham|
|Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)|
|Welterweight||Brendan O’Reilly||vs.||Alan Jouban|
|Featherweight||Dan Hooker||vs.||Mark Eddiva|
|Women’s Bantamweight||Leslie Smith||vs.||Rin Nakai|
|Welterweight||Richard Walsh||vs.||Viscardi Andrade|
|Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)|
|Lightweight||Ross Pearson||vs.||Chad Laprise|
|Lightweight||Alan Patrick||vs.||Damien Brown|