“You have been signed to the UFC.”
These are the words every single MMA fighter competing on the regional scene dreams of one-day hearing.
Most will never have these words uttered to them. For the select few that have the work ethic and elite skill to build the resume required to fight in the UFC, they will have the opportunity to change their lives forever.
This Sunday at UFC Adelaide three fighters from Australia and one from New Zealand will have the opportunity to do just that as they make their UFC debuts.
In a time where Australia has their first ever UFC champion and a Kiwi is closely nipping at his heels, the four fighters making their debuts this weekend are living proof that there continues to be an abundance of talent coming through the two countries.
The first debutant to make the Octagon walk on Sunday will be Sydney’s Alex ‘Hitman’ Gorgees.
Gorgees has the type of brash personality and in-your-face fighting style that will make him both loved and loathed by the fans. Gorgees loves to provoke his opponents in the cage and he will not give a shit if you don’t like it.
In his most recent outing at Hex 17 only one month ago, he proceeded to slap his opponent before laughing at him on his way to a unanimous decision win. The display was almost reminiscent of a Diaz brother as he waved his hands in the air encouraging his opponent to stand and trade with him.
The bravado, however, comes with a well-developed skill set and an unblemished 7-0 record. Gorgees loves to stand and trade with his opponents and at only 23-years-old, he is an extremely entertaining fighter with a long future ahead of him.
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Been a bit quiet last couple days cause of some ups and downs but this moment will always be a special one. We go to @hitman_att house while he was sleeping in bed and deliver the news that he’s one of the newest @ufc fighters and was gonna make his debut in 10 days time at #UFCadelaide . These are the moments that make a lot of the struggles worth it, seeing the joy and tears come out of this guys face just reminds us all how much these opportunities mean to people. Thanks to @seanshelby @danawhite and @mickmaynard2 for the opportunity, the #SYDNEYSLAP will be in full effect 😁 #AustralianTopTeam #mma #ufc #fighter #news #joy #happiness #tears #tuf27 #hexfightseries #supplementwarfare #bodyfit
As can be seen in the above Instagram post where his teammate Suman Mokhtarian tells Gorgees he has been signed to the UFC, this means the world to him. Every day spent in the gym, every party skipped to train, all the sacrifices are done in the hope that one day they can fight against the best fighters in the world in the UFC.
Tomorrow Gorgees gets his chance.
For most young New Zealand kids growing up the dream is always to play for the All Blacks, this was never the case for Kai Kara-France.
“When I was growing up, I didn’t want to be an All Black, I wanted to fight in the UFC,” Kara-France told Fight News Australia.
The last few years have shown that It was not a matter of if, but when would Kai Kara-France finally get the UFC call-up.
After getting the only KO on The Ultimate Fighter Season 24 and failing to receive a UFC contract, Kara-France went back to the drawing board and will make his UFC debut riding a five-fight winning streak.
With one punch knockout power, Kara-France is a rare breed of flyweight. Teammate Israel Adesanya has said he hits like a truck who will be able to knock out any flyweight that stands in front of him.
A professional since 2010, 9 of Kara-France’s 17 wins have come by T/KO.
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Super proud too announce New Zealand’s 5th homegrown UFC fighter & CKB’s 4th UFC fighter is the long overdue @kaikarafrance! Been toiling away for years, now its time to show the world what we already know! Check out how we surprised him with the news! #finally#dontblink#NZ#CKB
“I’m more than ready for this,” Kara-France told Fight News Australia.
“I’ve had that taste of the UFC being on The Ultimate Fighter, so to finally have that opportunity fighting on UFC Adelaide, close enough to home for friends and family to come and watch, it’s going to be special.”
Kara-France has the ability to climb the flyweight rankings quickly.
Despite arguably deserving a UFC contract some time ago, the time away further developing his game at City Kickboxing in Auckland under the tutelage of Eugene Bareman means he will only more dangerous when he enters the Octagon.
Few fighters have made such an impact on the Australian regional scene in such a short amount of time as Jimmy Crute. In two short years, Crute has stormed through the Australian light-heavyweight division smashing everybody in his way.
Crute has proven himself as a powerful athlete who thrives in tough fights. He is equally comfortable dismantling his opponents in the first round as he is slugging it out for five. At only 22-years-old, The Brute is battle tested and more than ready for his UFC debut.
His domination of the Aussie scene saw Crute get a call-up to compete on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series where he picked up another first-round KO.
Crute showed that he has the kill switch and UFC President Dana White loved it. White said Crute was his favorite fighter that night before giving him a UFC contract.
With a UFC contract in hand, Crute has finally been able to quit working full time and focus exclusively on training.
“I feel refreshed, I’m not a zombie,” Crute told Fight News Australia
“I usually feel like a zombie this far out from a fight, now I have more time to recover.”
Not only has Crute had more time to recover in the lead up to this contest but he also only had to go three rounds. A nice reprieve for the Bendigo native who has trained with five round fights and gone the distance in the past.
“Three rounds is no problem, you’ve seen me go five rounds at a high pace. I can go three rounds with my eyes closed
When Crute walks into the Octagon this Sunday, he will be fulfilling a dream he has had since he was 12-years-old.
Suman Mokhtarian will be making his UFC debut after recently featuring on The Ultimate Fighter Season 27.
Unlike the fighters mentioned above, fighting in the UFC was never a dream for Mokhtarian.
“I never even thought of becoming a UFC fighter because where i am from dreams do not always come true,” Mokhtarian told Fight News Australia.
For Mokhtarian mixed martial arts is a passion that he simply loved to be involved in all aspects of.
Mokhtarian is arguably one of the busiest figures in Australian MMA. Not only does he run Australian Top Team he coaches and manages a stable of fighters and runs his own promotion Urban Fight Night all while competing as a professional. But at the end of the day, he simply considers himself a fan.
“I am an MMA fan over everything, I love this sport.”
With being a fan during a UFC fight week comes some pretty cool moments, for Mokhtarian having his name read by Bruce Buffer in what he believes is one of the best MMA events to ever be on Australian shores will be a highlight.
“Having Bruce Buffer call my name is going to be cool, he doesn’t always come for fight nights so it is cool that he is here,” Mokhtarian said.
“It’s only a fight night but i think its one of the best cards we have ever had in Australian history, there’s some amazing fighters and I am just happy to be a part of it. ”
Mokhtarian believes that his opponent Sodiq Yusuff has come to Australia expecting an easy match-up.
“I feel like he thought until this fight week that this fight was going to be a walk in the park,” Mokhtarian said.
“I am the biggest betting underdog on this card, everything is over $5. I think he saw that i am not taken back by the week (At the weigh-ins). He knows that I feel prepared and i think when he looked into my eyes he was taken aback a little bit.”
Mokhtarian is well versed in all areas of MMA but it is his creative ground game where he excels. In his eight professional fights, he has six submission victories including rare submissions such as a baseball choke and twister. With Yusuff being a powerful puncher who likes to stand and trade, Mokhtarian should have a clear advantage on the ground.
For these four debutants, the road only gets tougher and more dangerous. The hard work really begins as the skill level jumps up and the professionalism required drastically increases. But as has been proven over the last couple of years, Australian and New Zealand fighters know how to make it to the top and cannot be taken lightly.
My earliest combat sports memory is watching David Tua knock people out with his left hook. I am extremely passionate about combat sports in Australia and my home country of New Zealand and I endeavour to grow the profile of martial arts and its athletes in both countries. Persistent Brazilian jiu-jitsu battler.