Melbourne is no stranger to big fights and on November 27 the UFC returns headlined by what many are calling a middleweight title contender bout between Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza. The event will take place at the iconic Rod Laver Arena.
Rockhold and Souza previously locked horns in 2011, where Rockhold claimed a unanimous decision win to secure the Strikeforce middleweight title. The 31-year-old American then went on to win seven of his next eight fights which included UFC gold back in December last year. However Rockhold was unable to keep the win streak going, losing the belt he won from fellow American Chris Weidman, after suffering a shock knockout loss the Michael Bisping. Three months after the defeat, he believes a victory over the Brazilian provides an obvious decision for UFC’s match makers.
“Jacare is the most credible guy out there, I believe, and this is the clear cut No. 1 match-up. I go out there and put in a statement and there’s no other situation for the winner of the title fight,” Rockhold told Herald Sun whilst in Melbourne for press commitments.
This week the UFC also released some of the big name Aussie fighters featuring on the card which included Robert Whittaker, Dan Kelly and Jake Mathews.
Robert Whittaker will face fellow top 10 middleweight Derek Brunson in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night Melbourne. As the country’s top ranked UFC fighter (7th), Whittaker will look to launch himself into title contention with a victory over the powerful striker.
Establishing a four fight winning streak in the division, Whittaker was an obvious choice for the card but had a nervous wait in securing a worthy opponent. With the top five middleweights already matched up for later this year, 10th ranked Brunson made his case with a quick finish of Uriah Hall last weekend. The American is currently riding a nice streak of his own, winning his last five bouts, which included the past four via first round KO. Both fighters are hungry for opportunities at the pointy end of the division but Whittaker believes he has the advantage.
“Brunson’s got a lot of power. He’s a well-rounded fighter and he’s in the top 10 for a reason,” Whittaker told news.com.au. “But I see massive holes in his game I can exploit. I think he’s going to be very surprised.”
Dan Kelly and Chris Camozzi recently traded shots on twitter before confirming things would turn violent in 10 weeks time. Californian born Camozzi, 29, called out the four-time Judo Olympian and is eager to put an end to the 38-year- olds 4-1 UFC record. Engaging in trash talk is new ground for the quietly spoken Kelly, but he’s ready to back it up when they meet inside the Octagon.
“These guys call me out because they know it’s going to be an easy fight,” Kelly said.“He said ‘let me put another loss on that record of yours … I wouldn’t mind coming to Australia for my birthday,” Kelly told Herald Sun.
Camozzi will be the clear favourite going in with a 24 – 11 fight record but Kelly is more than happy to remain the underdog.
“I’m too old and slow and I haven’t got a gas tank, apparently. They can keep thinking whatever they like. I know how hard I work and I know what I can do. It’s all going OK so far, so I don’t mind.”
— UFC Aus/New Zealand (@UFC_AUSNZ) September 21, 2016
Jake Mathews, 22, is the latest Australian confirmed but is yet to name an opponent. The 22-year-old is one of Australia’s brightest prospects and has improved exponentially since entering TUF: Nations, back in 2013. Currently holding a 3-2 record in the UFC, the Melbourne native will be keen to protect his winning record after recently losing to Kevin Lee via TKO.
Tickets to the event go on sale to the general public at 10am today via Ticketek. For those who are keen to get your tickets a bit earlier the code ‘UFCSOCIAL’ is still available for early bird purchase.
Timing for the event on the 27th November is as follows (subject to change):
First Bout: 10:30am
Main Card: 2pm