Australian Fighting Championships 7 was supposed to be the culmination of the promotions welterweight and middleweight tournaments, however with two of their finalists in Daniel Kelly and Jake Matthews having been selected to be part of The Ultimate Fighter Nations – Australia vs Canada series, the promotion has to change things up.
The middleweight title will still be up for grabs as outspoken Western Australian fighter Steven “The Steamroller” Kennedy (12-6, pictured left) meets TUF Smashes contestant Manuel Rodriguez (9-4, pictured right) in a bout set to be contested over five rounds.
Kennedy has been in impressive form, having defeated the likes of Sam Brown, Ross Dallow and Hale Vaa’sa in the last couple years before going down to highly regarded Jesse Taylor from USA. Kennedy last fought at AFC 5 back in May where he defeated Cole Davids with a first-round kimura submission. That win moved Kennedy to the semi-final stage of the tournament where he was paired up against Victorian fighter Vik Grujic however Grujic was forced out with an undisclosed illness in the lead-up to the event which allowed Kennedy to pass to the final by default. Kennedy was set to meet multiple time Australian Judo Olympian Daniel Kelly in the final however Kelly’s involvement in the TUF Nations series put an end to that bout.
A replacement was needed with the Victorian based promotion ultimately settling with TP Fight Team member Manuel Rodriguez who has previously fought at welterweight. Based out of Sydney, Rodriguez came to prominence with an appearance in the TUF Smashes season in 2012. Inside the reality show, Rodriguez overcame a serious injury suffered in the fight to win his first round match-up. Unfortunately the injury forced Rodriguez to leave the contest. He was given another chance and came up against fellow Australian welterweight Ben Alloway at UFC on FX 6, however despite looking good early, Rodriguez came crashing down when Alloway landed a front-kick late in the first-round. It will be one day short of a year since that bout when Rodriguez enters the ring on Saturday and will be eager to put his name in the mix.
Peter “The Bulldog” Davenport gave away his extensive VFL career to pursue MMA and will be hoping to revenge a loss from earlier this year when he rematches against Queensland based fighter Dean Purdon. In their first bout back in May this year, Purdon quickly tied up Davenport before taking him down and submitting him midway through the first stanza. Davenport bounced back with an impressive 21-second knockout in August while at the same event Purdon suffered his first professional loss when he went down to highly touted youngster Jake Matthews.
Tournaments to crown the promotions bantamweight and featherweight champions also get under way with a standout bantamweight match-up between arguably Australia’s number one bantamweight Gustavo Falciroli (pictured left) and New Zealand fighter Kai Kara-France. Valciroli has been on the side-lines since August 2012 where he went down to internationally regarded Bibiano Fernandes in One FC. It will also be his first fight in Australia since a submission win over Nick Honstein back in December 2011. Falciroli has notable wins over the likes of Richie Vaculik and Hideki Kadowaki. Kara-France on the other hand has fought across Asia including Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong in recent years and is on a three fight winning streak.
In other bantamweight tournament fights, young gun Jordan Lucas is one to keep an eye out on and will go into the bout against Adam Corbett as clear favourite while Victorian base American fighter Charlie Alaniz goes to battle against Giancarlo Embradora.
Highly regarded Nova Uniao trained Rodolfo Marques will be looking at rebounding from a loss to Robert Lisita in his last bout when he meets Mark Abelardo in a featherweight tournament bout.
Also on the card, Victorian based Nick Patterson means Rod Staader, Joel Fisher takes on Tim Zosh, while former full-contact Karate practitioner David Gibb meets Chris Birch. Rounding off the card Alex Volkanovski will meet Luke Catubig and Troy Resic taking on Callan Potter.
Australian Fighting Championships 7 goes down this Saturday, December 14 at the Melbourne Pavilion in Victoria with a special start time of 2pm AEDT. A stream of the event will also be broadcast live on Epicentre.tv