As all of Oceania is buzzing about UFC’s return to Australia after three-and-a-half years away, and each of the eight Australians and two New Zealanders competing at UFC 284 are chomping at the bit to receive the adulation of a home crowd in Perth. However, only one of those fighters will hail from those fans’ backyard: Jack Della Maddalena.
The Western Australia native is the lone UFC fighter on the current roster from Perth, and he quickly turned heads after earning a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series in September 2021. Through his first year in the promotion, Della Maddalena cooly picked up a trio of first-round knockouts, as well as a pair of performance bonuses, and he brings all that momentum with him to RAC Arena.
“It’s going to be insane,” Della Maddalena told UFC.com. “I think there'll be a lot of buzz. I think anyone that doesn't know me is going to jump on the bandwagon anyway if they’re in the crowd and get behind me, so I expect some rowdy fans. I’m going to go in there and give it my all. I've always, honestly, thought I would fight here, and to be here at this point in my career is pretty cool.”
Della Maddalena recalls attending the most recent Australian fight card – UFC 243 in Melbourne – and marveled at the record-breaking atmosphere.
He was not, however, in the arena for UFC’s first trip to Perth in 2018. Instead, he was back in Melbourne for an admittedly “terrible” 50 Cent concert his friend booked as a surprise.
“It turned out to be a pretty terrible show, to be honest,” he laughs. “We were pretty far back, and you couldn't actually hear anything… I didn't even know what song it was for at least 30 seconds into the song. It was pretty bad.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Jack Della Maddalena Trains In Perth For UFC 284
Thankfully, he gets to amend that error in judgement and get paid for doing it when he squares off against Randy Brown at UFC 284. He also takes a good amount of pride in representing not only the country, but Western Australia in particular.
On top of Della Maddalena’s bout, a handful of his teammates at Scrappy MMA are competing the day before him at Eternal MMA’s event.
“It’s going to be a crazy week where Perth becomes the hub of the MMA world,” Scrappy MMA head coach Ben Vickers said. “Having Jack in a pretty prominent feature on a massive card is amazing for our little gym. The vibe in the gym is good. We’re ready to go and we’re super excited.”
Sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and the Australian Outback, Perth has a reputation as one of the most isolated cities in the world, which makes the spotlight of a major UFC event all the more special.
And as the hometown guy, Della Maddalena is proud to represent the city with a real vigor.
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“I guess it’s a quiet place,” Della Maddalena said. “It’s really far away from anything else, so some people try and get away, but it's a quiet place, weather is good and the beaches are nice, and I don't know any different. It's a relaxing vibe. Good people. I love this place, and I'll be here forever.”
What isn’t quiet is the start to Della Maddalena’s UFC career. His trio of knockouts earned him UFC.com’s 2022 Newcomer of the Year designation, turning heads with his fluid striking, Fight IQ and finishing instincts.
Jack Della Maddalena | 2022 Résumé
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Jack Della Maddalena | 2022 Résumé
All that leads to his growing reputation as one of the best prospects to ever come out of Australia, and as the last fight before the pair of title bouts, the hype is building even more. You wouldn’t know it, however, talking to Della Maddalena. He is as calm in regular conversation as he is in the pocket and carries the unflappable confidence of a man riding a 13-fight winning streak.
“I don't really take too much notice of all that stuff because it, at the end of the day, doesn't really change much,” he said. “It's awesome. You really get that appreciation. It's cool. But yeah, hopefully with eyes on me I'm going to come in and fight hard on Sunday.”
He has his tallest task yet in Brown, who has grown up in the Octagon. Fourteen of his 20 professional fights have come under the UFC banner, and after a few speed bumps, he comes into this matchup on a four-fight win streak.
Brown, who is just 32 years of age, has aspirations for the Top 15, as well, and happily embraces the challenge of taking out the hometown guy six years his junior.
Della Maddalena acknowledges the jump in competition level this matchup represents, but it’s also exactly the kind of fight he wants after a perfect rookie season.
“I think (Brown) will probably just be tough the whole time,” he said. “Of course, his length is probably one of his best attributes. With that length, when he doesn't want to fight, I think he can back up and just get away, so I’m just going to try to get in his face from the get-go.
“I think as soon as I step in the cage and he steps in the cage, I think that's where I'll beat him.”
A win sets Della Maddalena up well for a potential crack at the rankings in his fifth UFC fight, and the circumstances couldn’t be better. He relishes the opportunity to wake up in his own bed throughout fight week. The comfort even extends to the weight cut, which he says will take place at his mother’s house.
In addition to those amenities, he will have his wife and first-born son in the crowd cheering him on. Everything is there for the taking, and he intends to take full advantage of the picture-perfect opportunity on fight day.
“I'm just out for the challenge, you know?” Della Maddalena said. “I think he's the guy that would catapult me into the top 15, and I'm ready for the challenge and to try and take him out. I'm going to put on a good performance, and I want to steal the show.”