The UFC returns to Australia for this one for the first time since December 2012 and with them they bring a pretty solid night of fights considering this is only a Fight Night show. Headlining at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre this week is a heavyweight bout as New Zealand’s Mark Hunt takes on Brazil’s Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva in an intriguing matchup with both men looking to bounce back from recent defeats and ensure that their name remains at the top of the division. Serving as the co-main for the event is a clash of light-heavyweights as Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua steps in to the Octagon to take on James Te Huna. The Aussies in attendance will also be treated to another 205lbs matchup as Ryan Bader and Anthony Perosh do battle, with heavyweights Pat Barry and Soa Palelei, middleweights Dylan Andrews and Clint Hester, and women’s bantamweights Julie Kedzie and Beth Correia rounding out the rest of the main card.
Now, as ever I am here to guide you through the outback that is the prelims, so let’s get going.
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Nam Phan – 135lbs.
Mizugaki has been a stalwart of the Zuffa bantamweight scene since 2009 competing 12 times in total, split between his two tenures within the WEC and the UFC. Apart from challenging for the WEC bantamweight championship on his Zuffa debut, despite his longevity within the company Mizugaki has never really hit any heights during his career. This could all begin to change if Mizugaki can triumph here, not that registering a victory over Nam Phan can be considered a career high, it’s just that a win here would see Mizugaki sitting pretty on a four-fight win streak. Mizugaki’s current streak includes victories over Jeff Houghland, Bryan Caraway and most recently Erik Perez; if Mizugaki can capture a fourth, well then that could see him fighting a top-10 ranked opponent next time around.
Nam Phan will be entering the third division of his UFC career when he steps in to the Octagon to take on Mizugaki. Phan first came to our attention on season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter as a lightweight where he made the semi-final stage of the competition, but shortly after the season came to an end and for his official UFC debut, Phan decided to drop a weight class and start out life in the UFC as a featherweight. Whilst at 145lbs, Phan has hardly set the world alight compiling a losing record of 2-4 in his six Octagon appearances, although to be fair his UFC debut defeat against Leonard Garcia was highly controversial with all but the cageside judges siding with Phan. Phan’s most recent performance, a defeat at the hands of Dennis Siver, clearly paved the way for the drop to 135lbs and Phan will be hoping that a change of scenery brings around a change of fortune.
Phan was never one of the biggest featherweights in the division, so the drop to 135lbs should do him a favour in the long run, just not here. Mizugaki will prove too tough, wily and durable for Phan to get off any kind of significant striking offence, with Mizugaki controlling the fight for large portions with his superior wrestling ability.
Predictions – Mizugaki via unanimous decision.
Nick Ring vs. Caio Magalhaes – 185lbs.
Nick Ring could well find himself in quite a pickle if he is unable to take home the W when he faces off with Caio Magalhaes. This will be Ring’s sixth UFC appearance and has so far compiled a 3-2 record, which while on the face of it is not too damning; two of Ring’s victories were highly controversial with many giving his opponent the edge. Ring will enter the Octagon off of an eight month lay-off and was last seen dropping a split decision to Chris Camozzi back at UFC 158 in March. Another defeat here could spell curtains for Ring, unless he is able to put on a gutsy and engaging performance in defeat which could provide a stay of execution.
After debuting with the UFC back in June 2012 with a defeat to Buddy Roberts at UFC on FX 3, Caio Magalhaes was given the chance to redeem himself back in his home country of Brazil at UFC on Fuel TV 10 earlier this June and Magalhaes’ opponent for the night was Karlos Vemola. Magalhaes took torrential punishment from Vemola in the first round but once the klaxon sounded for the end of the first, the storm of brutality had all but subsided and Vemola inevitably gassed after exerting so much energy in trying to put Magalhaes away. Magalhaes will be looking to build on this victory and secure back-to-back wins for the first time in his UFC career.
I could well be proved wrong, but this one is likely to be a bit of a snooze-fest. Magalhaes has a competent enough jiu-jitsu game to cause all but the elite problems, but will not have the required wrestling ability to drag Ring to the ground in order to enact it. I expect Ring to dominate the action in uneventful fashion, controlling the pace and location of the fight at all times.
Prediction – Ring via unanimous decision.
Richie Vaculik vs. Justin Scoggins – 125lbs.
For those that watched TUF: The Smashes, the name Richie Vaculik will be familiar. Vaculik, who had up until the competition previously competed as a bantamweight, entered the season as a lightweight in order to buy a ticket for the raffle. Vaculik would go on to lose out to eventual winner Norman Parke in the opening round of the competition and will be making his flyweight debut when he takes on Scoggins.
21 year old Scoggins is pretty new to this game, but it hasn’t taken him long to make an impression. Scoggins has competed seven times and won seven times, with six of those victories coming via way of either KO/TKO or submission. Scoggins is an aggressively diverse striker who will pose a threat to those outside the top ten of this shallow division.
Vaculik will carry in to this fight a pretty sizeable experience advantage being nine years old than Scoggins and having competed for six years more, but this is where his advantages end. Scoggins will be way too much for Vaculik on the feet and will likely starch Vaculik pretty early on.
Prediction – Scoggins via KO/TKO in the 1st round.
Bruno Santos vs. Krzysztof Jotko – 185lbs.
While both men share an identical fighting record, 13-0, the tales of their record are very different. Bruno Santos, a credited grappler who hails from the famed Nova Uniao camp that houses José Aldo and Renan Barao, has finished only two of his opponents whereas Jotko has six decisive outcomes to his name.
Santos should have enough about him to absorb what Jotko can offer on the feet long enough to work for a takedown and utilise his superior grappling to dominant effect.
Prediction – Santos via unanimous decision.
Tags: Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva, Mark Hunt, Mixed Martial Arts, MMA, Nam Phan, nick ring, Takeya Mizugaki, UFC