Ah sure and begorrah, boys and girls. It’s time for a St. Patrick’s day edition of The Downes Side. Whether you’re a plastic Paddy or a true Irishman, we can all agree on one thing: this weekend the UFC returns to Australia (where approximately 10% of the population claim Irish ancestry) for a Fight Night.
Live from the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, heavyweights Mark Hunt and Frank Mir will slug it out in the main event of the evening. In the co-main event, Hector Lombard tries to reclaim his momentum against Neil Magny. Put the green beer down for a minute, it’s fight time!
MARK HUNT VS. FRANK MIR
Time for the main event! A .500 win percentage isn’t usually notable, but Mark Hunt isn’t the average MMA fighter. The hard hitting Samoan broke his losing streak back at UFC 193 with a first-round TKO over Bigfoot Silva. Known for his jiu-jitsu, Frank Mir has really found his boxing groove over the last couple years. It wasn’t enough to guide him past Andrei Arlovski in his last fight, but you can never count Mir out.
Mir is a brilliant tactician. I’m sure he has a plan to defeat Hunt. I just wonder if his execution will be there. Mir defends strikes at a 38.61% rate. It didn’t hurt him against Todd Duffee, but Mark Hunt hits much harder. The “Super Samoan” does need a little more time to get warmed up nowadays, and Mir could certainly put him away, but it seems unlikely. As long as Hunt doesn’t tire himself out and give up the easy submission, he’ll take this one by second-round TKO.
More on Fight Night Brisbane: Full fight card | Reasons to watch | Hunt ready for another day’s work | Te Huna going back to his roots | Fighter inside has brought Bosse back to the UFC | WATCH: Under the radar fights to watch | 10 best UFC fights in Australia | Watch: Mir previews matchup with Hunt | Watch free fights: Hunt vs. Bigfoot Silva, Mir vs. Duffee, Magny vs Kunimoto, Lombard vs. Marquardt | Joe Rogan previews: Hunt vs. Mir, Lombard vs. Magny
HECTOR LOMBARD VS. NEIL MAGNY
That brings us to welterweight. Fighting for the first time since UFC 182, Lombard needs to reclaim some of the buzz he lost due to suspension. A power striker with 22 career KOs, he was once considered a top five welterweight. Constantly underappreciated, Neil Magny’s win steak may have been ended by Demian Maia, but he’s gone right back to work with back-to-back wins over Erick Silva and Kelvin Gastelum.
The Maia loss aside, Magny has shown a command of reach and distance. He can attack with straight punches and work the clinch. He may not have the strength of Lombard, but he avoids eating the big strike. Along with Lombard’s tendency to fade and his extended layoff, Magny should be in prime position for another signature win at 170 pounds. Magny takes the decision.
JAKE MATTHEWS VS. JOHNNY CASE
Next we drop to lightweight for Jake Matthews and Johnny Case. Appropriately nicknamed “The Celtic Kid,” Matthews has a 90% finishing rate. 3-1 inside the Octagon, he’s coming off his best performance to date, a second-round TKO over “Admiral” Akbarh Arreola. “Hollywood” Johnny Case is another hot prospect in a division loaded with talent. He’s currently riding a 12-fight win streak, including four in the UFC.
Oddsmakers aside, this is the closest fight on the entire card. Both fighters are young and have finishing instincts. Case is the better striker, while Matthews is the better grappler. Matthews is also the better athlete, but Case has the slight edge in this fight. He has a higher fight IQ and a better command of range. He should beat Matthews up at distance and get the better end of the scrambles. Hollywood stuns Matthews with a power shot and then cinches up the opportunistic submission in the third.
DANIEL KELLY VS. ANTONIO CARLOS JUNIOR
We stay at middleweight for Dan Kelly and Antonio Carlos Junior. An Olympic judoka, the 38-year-old Kelly still has some fight left in him. A TUF Nations alumnus, he’s 3-1 in his UFC career. The man affectionately known as “Shoe Face,” 26-year-old Carlos has been impressive in his time in the Octagon. The only thing more distinguished than his jawline are his grappling credentials.
Neither fighter has particularly adept striking. They’re capable, it’s just that they use their hands to set up their grappling. If the fight goes to the ground, Carlos has a distinct advantage. Kelly does have strong takedown defense, but Carlos’s pacing and conditioning should be the difference maker. Shoe Face grinds his way to the decision victory.
JAMES TE HUNA VS. STEVE BOSSE
Next, we move to middleweight for James Te Huna and Steve Bosse. Once on the cusp of being a contender, Te Huna has had a rough patch as of late. He’s lost three straight fights to Glover Teixeira, Shogun Rua and, most recently, Nate Marquardt. A hard hitter with 10 KOs, he’s more than capable of righting the ship. A former hockey enforcer, Bosse looks for his first UFC win after dropping his debut to Thiago Santos.
Both these fighters know how to knock people out. They each throw punches with a lot of power and could finish the fight in an instant. Bosse may have more pure KO power and remind you of a Kelis song, but he can be a bit wild (much like Kelis). It’s difficult to gauge how technically sound Bosse may be from his career thus far, but I think we can assume defense isn’t one of his strong points. Te Huna has been knocked out before, but his overall superiority will lead him to the first-round TKO.
BEC RAWLINGS VS. SEOHEE HAM
We open the main card in the women’s strawweight division for Bec Rawlings and Seohee Ham. A veteran of season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, “Rowdy” Bec has four career submission wins. Seohee Ham has seen more decisions that the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What she may lack in finishes, she more than makes up for it in being willing to engage and brawl.
Rawlings will have her countrymen backing her up, but it’s going to take more than a home country advantage to make it through this fight. She’s capable everywhere, but her 45% defense rate and relative lack of speed compared to Ham are problem areas. Ham may not be able to put Rawlings away, but she’ll connect with enough strikes and overwhelm her opponent with volume. Ham by decision.
That wraps up another guilt-free edition of the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, contradictions, or St. Patrick’s Day Depictions on the page here. Preferably ones that don’t violate our (or any other jurisdiction’s) rules.