Jay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC Fight Night 65 in Adelaide, Australia.
#1 Miocic’s Signature Win – Stipe Miocic has been on the rise in the UFC’s heavyweight division. The 32 year old Ohio native turned a lot of heads in his decision loss to former champion Junior Dos Santos. The American went toe to toe with the Brazilian displaying moments of dominance especially early in the fight. In addition to great boxing, Miocic showed a heck of a chin which made many wonder if he could potentially challenge Cain Velasquez for the championship. What Miocic needed to do was show that the Dos Santos fight wasn’t just an anomaly. At Fight Night 65, Miocic was put in another high profile contest facing “The Super Samoan” Mark Hunt. What Miocic did was simply mesmerizing. He took control of the fight from the opening bell. He utilized a combination of boxing and well-timed takedowns. He was absolute dominant in top control really limiting Hunt’s ability to move. It was the signature win of Stipe Miocic’s career and solidifies his place in the top five of the heavyweight rankings. His improved conditioning and ability to push in the championship rounds setup for an intriguing fight with the champion; most likely in 2016.
#2 Different Kind of Person– “The Super Samoan” Mark Hunt had one of the more remarkable late career runs in MMA history. After losing in his UFC debut in 2010, Hunt went on to win five of his next seven fights to earn a title shot against Fabricio Werdum. Hunt won the first round, but a surprise knockout in round two ended his title run. At 41 years of age, Hunt has stood toe to toe with some of the divisions best fighters. Hunt is for lack of a better term a freak of nature. He is capable of standing and trading with the best the world has to offer. He has shown no fear in his fights. He’s rarely the better athlete and physically not as gifted as his opponents. What Hunt has is a spirit that perhaps no other fight has that is currently on the UFC roster. In Fight Night 65’s main event, Hunt was significantly outclassed by the bigger, better fighter in Stipe Miocic. Despite being struck an UFC record 361 times, Hunt never gave up. It was the referee who stepped in to end the fight. While I don’t know if Mark Hunt will ever be the same after that defeat, his heart and determination is truly special in this sport. He’s just built differently than everyone else in MMA.
#3 Buy or Sell –Let’s play a little game where we buy or sell stock in some winners from Fight Night 65 of their fight prospects over the next 12-18 months.
Robert Whittaker. BUY. The move from welterweight to middleweight has really made the difference in the 24 year old Australian’s career. Whittaker gave Clint Hester his first ever loss in the UFC in November 2014. He followed that up with his first ever win over a top 15 opponent by knocking out Brad Tavares in the first round. Speed has been the real difference maker for Whittaker. Despite having only a 73.5 inch reach, hand speed has allowed the Australian to land first in his encounters at middleweight. With the win, it’s likely that Whittaker will jump into the top 15 of a division that is dominated by fighters over 30 years of age. Whittaker would be the youngest ranked fighter in the division by five years. As long as he continues to work on his defensive grappling, he’s certainly one to watch in this division.
James Vick. SELL. The undefeated lightweight has gotten off to a promising start in his career. He’s 8-0 overall and holds four wins in the UFC defeating the likes of Ramsey Nijem and most recently Jake Matthews. The 28-year old Texan has some very good aspects to his fighting prowess. He’s a dangerous striker with a very slick ground game. He’s got good size for the weight class; overall he’s a decent fighter. However, he’s shown to very hittable and in his past couple fights he showed some holes. While he’s fought through them and won fights, he’s done so against fighters that are very green inside the Octagon. The mistakes Vick is making in the cage will catch up to him as he begins to face solid veterans in the loaded lightweight division.
#4 Sam Keeps On Smilin – Since losing a close decision to Britain’s Tom Watson, Sam Alvey has been on a tear in the middleweight division. Three straight first round knockouts and Alvey is smiling his way up the middleweight rankings. Alvey had long been a journeyman prior to moving to the UFC, but his recent performances should keep him in the organization for a while. Combined with the knockouts, his charismatic and photogenic appearance makes him one of the marketable fighters in the division. After his win over Daniel Kelly, Alvey called out Canadian Elias Theodorou with the loser having to shave their head. While it’s not the most original idea in the world, it’s far more entertaining than what over 95% of the roster states in a victory speech. Keep an eye on Alvey as he’s always got something cooking.
#5 Hioki’s Regression– Japanese MMA has really fallen on hard times. Outside of flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi who appears to be a mainstay in that division, there are very few Japanese fighters who have found success in the UFC over the last five years. Hatsu Hioki entered the UFC in 2011 with a 24-4 record and was considered by many to be a threat to Jose Aldo’s featherweight title. After consecutive wins inside the octagon, he was one fight away from a chance to face Aldo. Since that time, it’s been nothing but bad news for Hioki. After a head kick knockout loss to New Zealand’s Daniel Hooker, Hioki has lost 5 of his last 6 fights. The Japanese fighter’s technique is still quite good, but athletically he’s having real trouble competing in the UFC. Better grapplers have controlled him on the ground. Hioki was regarded as one of the best submission artists in the world prior to joining the UFC, but has been unable to submit anyone in his 8 UFC fights. At 31 years old, Hioki isn’t physically shot as a fighter. Instead, he’s simply been exposed by more athletic, more physical fighters. Unfortunately for him, that athletic disadvantage will only get worse. I think he may get one more fight on a fight card in Japan later this year. If he loses again, I expect him to be released by the UFC.
About the Author
Co-Host of The MMA Analysis Podcast ( Available at //mmaoddsbreaker.com ) / RBNY & USMNT Fanatico, Lives in no spin zone.
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