UFC Melbourne: Hooker, Brown, Nguyen and Walsh give their thoughts on the upcoming Fight Night

The UFC has come to Melbourne this week with a card filled to the brim with the country’s finest MMA talent and headlined by a middleweight bout between Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson.

With an abundance of local talent on display, FNA caught up with some of the stars of the prelims card to see where their heads are at before they enter the Octagon tomorrow.

Damien Brown (16-9) will take on Guamanian fighter Jon Tuck (9-3) in what’s set to be a dynamic clash following on from his spectacular knockout victory against Cesar Arzamendia at UFC 201.

After such an incredible performance back in July, many would feel pressure to keep the momentum going following their first UFC win. However, Brown says he doesn’t feel any added nerves leading into the bout.

“I think most of the pressure comes from the fact that a lot of the guys fight full time and I don’t. So, I could win the next 15 fights in a row and it would still feel like a hobby to me.

“I was 31 when I entered the UFC so I’ve built a life around fighting so I don’t need it where as some guys need it because it’s their livelihood. Therefore, I don’t feel any added pressure.”

When asked about his upcoming opponent Brown said he feels that this bout is flying under the radar as potential Fight of the Night.

“He (Tuck) comes to throw down and if he’s going to throw down in Australia he’s going to get it right back.

“I think he’s definitely a step up in opponent but I feel as though I have the upper hand.”

Richard Walsh (9-4) looks to add another Melbourne victory to his name when he takes on Canadian striker Jonathon Meunier (7-1).

Walsh has had some close and controversial decisions not go his way since entering the UFC but hasn’t let that effect his mindset leading into this fight.

“It doesn’t add any extra pressure but it’s a little bit frustrating. I’ve had five fights with one definite loss to Alan Jouban in Los Angeles….but with my other four fights I have dropped two of those by decision with arguably winning that split decision against Kiichi Kunlmoto in Japan and then in Brisbane which was a close fight.

“It was obviously annoying losing but it wasn’t like I walked out of there getting my ass spanked and that’s why I’m back here more motivated than ever to win.”

Meunier has length and power in his striking but Walsh feels he can take advantage of the Canadian with his more complete MMA skill set.

“He (Meunier) switches stances and plays a good rangey game but It’s a matter of me looking to get inside. He has a perfect body for punching. He has a long torso and neck which presents a lot of targets to hit.”

Ben Nguyen (14-6) is coming off his first loss since 2010 when he fell to Louis Smolka back in July of this year but hopes to have his hand raised after his upcoming fight with 26-year-old Geane Herrera (9-2).

“After losing to Louis back in July it lit a fire under my butt and I felt like I had to get better as a martial artist and as an athlete overall.

“I’ve got a mental coach that I work with now. Just changing up my training a little bit with more of a focus on aerobic workouts for more endurance.”

Nguyen then went on to talk about the modifications he’s made to game planning for opponents.

“I’m a little more focused on the particular fighter now. Before we didn’t really look into too much of a game plan. This time, I’m not afraid to look at tape…before I was a bit apprehensive about looking at tape but now I’m more keen to look at certain situations in preparation for the fight.”

A lot of MMA fans have picked Dan Hooker (13-6) and Jason Knight (14-2) as the Fight of the Night with both men always looking to push the pace and come forward with aggression however, Hooker doesn’t agree and will instead be looking for a Performance of the Night bonus.

“He (Knight) says this is going to be war. That was back in 2013 but the level that I’m at now is so much higher. Technically I feel like I can outclass my opponent so why make it a dog fight.”

It may not be the war some were hoping for but Hooker guarantees entertainment for the fans.

“It’s going to be an exciting performance, I can guarantee you that, but it’s going to be one way traffic.”

UFC Melbourne Fight Night goes live tomorrow at 10.30am AEST from Rod Laver Arena and on UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports.

UFC Fight Night Melbourne Weigh-In Photos

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Sam Mangioni