It is probably fair to say at this stage, that when the UFC take their show beyond America, they tend to reserve the more stellar cards for the fans of Brazil and Canada. The exception of course being UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, and only the most cynical of fans would correlate that with the large investment the company received from partners there.
However, the card scheduled for Saturday morning at the Allphones Arena in Sydney is far from the rag tag hand-me-downs fans outside of Latin and North America have become accustomed to. The main event, between Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann is one of those fights that could be over the moment asses hit the seats or have fans on their feet, screaming bloody murder for fifteen minutes.
This fight pits two of the sport’s premiere Muay Thai practitioners against each other, who both find themselves in welterweight purgatory. So, if either man wants to elevate himself up the ranks in any kind of meaningful way, victory must be comprehensive and beyond reproach. Being the bigger, more powerful athlete, with title fight experience, you would have to favour Alves.
My Prediction Alves KO/TKO Round 3
Fans in Sydney are also being treatedwith the official debut of the flyweight division, with a two-fight tourney to decide who will contest for the title later this year. Former Bantamweight No.1 contender Demetrious Johnson takes on Octagon debutant Ian McCall in the first semi-final, which is followed by Joseph Benavidez battling another UFC first timer, Japan’s Yashuhiro Urushitani.
What will be truly mesmerizing about these historical bouts is the pace men of this stature can fight at; Cruz v Faber II will probably look lethargic in comparison. Any outright prediction for these fights would be speculative, however, Johnson and Banavidez have been at this level many times before and will not be fazed by it, and they’re probably the safest bet.
Keep an eye out for all the tri colours on display; there should be a fairly strong Paddy contingent in attendance.
Coverage starts at 2am Saturday morning on ESPN.
By Tom Rooney