With the 2015 Aussie MMA scene officially getting back into the swing of things, we sat down to list some of the match-ups we would enjoy seeing this year.
We have tried to keep it as local as possible, excluding fighters signed to international promotions like the UFC and One Championships (formerly One FC).
A note of disclosure that we understand some fighters may be signed exclusively to a promotion and thus the match-up being near impossible to be made this year.
Let us know which fight you want to see from the list by voting below, or leave a comment.
Benny Alloway (13-6) vs Steven Kennedy (15-6)
Through social media both Alloway and Kennedy have had heated words back and forth for the last 12 months, and who doesn’t like a match-up with a bit of heat behind it?
Alloway has only won one fight in his last four appearances, however has been competing in the UFC and in one of the top European promotions – Cage Warriors. Western Australia’s Steven Kennedy is on a six-fight winning streak against the likes of Manuel Rodriguez and Daniel Way. The West Australian fighter is slated to meet Callan Potter at welterweight next in March.
Rob Wilkinson (8-0) vs Zein Saliba (5-0)
The days of Wilkinson flying under the radar are slowly past him, with the Tasmanian fighter really making a mark on the scene in 2014 by capturing the Brace middleweight tournament, and in doing so also won the Fight News Australia Panel’s Choice breakthrough fighter of the year award.
After a stint on The Ultimate Fighter Nations show, Saliba returned back to action in November where he submitted Maui Tuigamala in impressive style. The TP Fight team trained fighter has a notable win against current UFC fighter Vik Grujic so surely is in the eyes of the UFC for a possible UFC call-up. Saliba is currently lined up to face Daniel Way on the next AFC event in March.
Both Saliba and Wilkinson are undefeated fighters who are looking at stepping to that next level.
Anton Zafir (6-1) vs Corey Nelson (17-5-1) II
This pair met back in March 2014, where Zafir arguably caused the biggest upset of the year with a unanimous points decision win over the welterweight stand-out. Apart from an appearance at the Kudo World Championships, Zafir has been inactive since the bout recovering from injuries.
It must be mentioned that Nelson took the fight against Zafir on short notice, in what has been his only loss in his last ten bouts. With a proper training camp, could Nelson pull out the victory or will Zafir again have his hand raised?
Dan Pauling (9-2) vs Ian Bone (10-7)
I’m a bit surprised that these two have not yet met. Bone, a former Nitro champion, has been inactive from the cage since a 2013 decision loss to Corey Nelson. The Townsville fighter has notable wins over Tony Rossini and Manuel Rodriguez and is a tough test for anyone that faces him.
Pauling too has been inactive, having fought only once since back to back losses in 2012. In his return to the cage back in August, he submitted Jon Leven in what was his eighth submission win in 11 bouts.
Bone has expressed his desire at facing Pauling in the past, and with both coming back from recent inactivity, what better time than now.
Nick Patterson (14-4) vs Isaac Tisdell (6-2)
Victorian fighter Nick Patterson has proved himself as one of the leading lightweights in the country, notably defeating former UFC fighter Bernardo ‘Trekko’ Magalhaes in a recent bout. Patterson fought three times in 2014, capping it off in December where he scored a first-round TKO over the previously undefeated American Steve Orosco.
Training out the Spartans gym and Five Rings Dojo, Tisdell captured the Nitro lightweight title back in October against Gokhan Turkyilmaz. Two of his last three fights having lasted a total of just 17-seconds. With four wins on the trot, a step up in competition is on the horizon for the popular fighter.
Both fighters are crisp and precise on their feet, a meeting between the two will give the crowd their money’s worth.
Nick Patterson has been announced to face former UFC fighter Ben Wall on the HEX Fight Series 2 event scheduled for March 14.
George Sotiropoulos (14-7) vs Bernardo Magalhaes (13-4)
Former UFC lightweights, George Sotiropoulos and Bernardo “Trekko” Magalhaes, are at similar positions in their careers, having been released from the UFC. Magalhae’s post-UFC run has seen mixed results, with a loss against Nick Patterson and victories over Sonny Brown and Kieran Joblin. At 33 years-of-age, time is still on his side to make a a potential run back into the UFC.
With five straight losses, Sotiropoulos isn’t at the height of his career, but the question remains, how would the former UFC lightweight title hopeful fare competing against some of Australia’s local talent. It’s something he hasn’t done since a 2006 win over Kyle Noke, and who knows, it might be the thing he needs to make a later career resurgence. No doubt there would be a handful of local fighters eager to get a win over him.
Michael Tobin (9-0) vs Rory O’Connell (6-1)
Undefeated after nine bouts, Potential Unlimited MMA fighter Michael Tobin was recently rated at number four on The MMA Sun featherweight prospect watch. Eight of his nine wins have come via the way of submission, which includes seven in the first round. The Judoka practitioner has only a handful of opponents left for him to face locally.
One of the possible opponents is the under-rated Rory O’Connell, who after an inactive period is returning to the cage next month when he faces Dean Purdon. O’Connell’s lone loss has come against One FC veteran Robert Lisita. He was able to bounce back from that though to defeat Australian Judo Olympian Ivo Dos Santos in his last outing back in May of 2013. With one win already over an experienced Judoka, could he do it again and give Tobin his first loss?
Jamie Mullarkey (5-0) vs Ryan Gray (4-0)
Mullarkey had a breakthrough year in 2014, having won four fights on the trot en-route to capturing the Brace featherweight title. The Central Coast based fighter is eager to keep that form alive in 2015.
Gray has already started his year with a win, having defeated Kris Spence on the Valor event at the end of January in Brisbane. The win comes on the back of wins over David Greaves and Josh Karst in 2014. Currently, the West Australian fighter is 5-0 in his professional career.
Jacob Mahony (12-8) vs Reece McLaren (5-3) II
The good news with this bantamweight match-up is that it’s already signed and scheduled to happen in a few weeks time on the XFC 23 event. The two fighters first met back in 2013, where Mahony managed to pull out a late submission to steal the fight from McLaren’s grasp. The submission came 30-seconds from the end of the fight which was heading in McLaren’s favour.
Mahony had a spectacular 2014, finishing all three of his opponents in the first round and has now lost only once in his last eight bouts.
McLaren went 2-1 last year, with his lone loss coming at the hands of highly touted Brisbane based American Ben Nguyen. A win over Mahony will no doubt springboard McLaren to bigger things.
If the first fight is anything to go by, this is one you don’t want to miss.
Shaun Etchell (4-0) vs Luke Morris (4-3)
After fighting the bulk of his career in Tasmania, Shaun Etchell proved himself as a prospect to watch emphatically last July where he won a unanimous decision over veteran fighter Tim Moore. The win was the youngsters fourth from as many starts.
Morris’ record may look deceiving, but if you take into affect that he has gone 4-1 as a flyweight then it doesn’t look so bad. Add that to the fact that he captured the Nitro and Unarmed Combat Unleashed titles in 2014, shows that he is one to keep an eye out on in the flyweight division. Both are eager to stamp their mark in the division. Who would your pick be?