One year later the UFC is back down under and is bringing a can’t-miss middleweight main event as part of the holiday weekend Saturday night, live and free on FS1.
It’s easy to forget about the depth of a division when the Top Five is full of monsters. But Derek Brunson and Robert Whittaker both are serious title contenders at 185 pounds. This matchup will catapult one of these men into the thick of the championship picture and it should be one hell of a fight.
Brunson is a wrestler who has evolved into a scary striker. He has finished his last four fights by KO – the longest streak in the history of the division – and he’s doing it in destructive fashion.
What makes Brunson so hard to take out is that he can beat you on the feet or on the ground. It’s arguable that he’s even more of a menace on the canvas than he is on the feet. But Whittaker has the tools to test the North Carolina native.
Whittaker is the main event in his home country and deservedly so. The Aussie boxing ace has won five in a row and has yet to taste defeat since moving up to 185 pounds.
The Sydney product moves well and his combinations are lighting fast. What makes him such a good matchup against Brunson is his takedown defense. He has the fourth-highest takedown defense rate (93.1 percent) in UFC history. The fight is likely to take place on the feet and -- despite Brunson’s always improving striking game – that is where Whittaker holds the advantage.
Brunson vs. Whittaker is the No. 1 reason to watch Fight Night Melbourne.
2 – Super prospect Matthews looks to get back on track
He tries to get the train back on the tracks against Andre Holbrook, a wrestler with two UFC appearances. Look for Matthews to test himself against Holbrook’s wrestling and get the fight to the mat.
3 – Rountree makes first post-TUF trip to Octagon
Rountree struggled in his championship fight on last season’s Ultimate Fighter Finale, getting held down against eventual winner Andrew Sanchez. The man with the mustache went back to work and started to drill fundamentals before taking his next fight. In Melbourne fans will get to see the fruits of his labor.
4 – Veteran clash on one’s home turf
Don’t look now but Melbourne’s Daniel Kelly has won our of five in the UFC and has been on quite the run since his time on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations.
Kelly takes on UFC super veteran Chris Camozzi, who has also been on quite a run. Camozzi has won three of his last four and has found new life in the UFC since returning over a year ago. This one should be fun.
5 – Flyweight prospects collide
Nguyen is a knockout artist and Herrera is a lightning-fast new-mera MMA fighter, who is good wherever the fight may go.
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC