UFC Fight Night 43 will be live from the Vector Arena in Aucklund, New Zealand on June 28th, with a 10-fight card, including a four-fight main card that will stream live on UFC Fight Pass at 5am ET. Kicking things off will be a welterweight contest between Mike Rhodes and Robert Whitaker. Whitaker was the winner of the TUF: Smashes welterweight tournament and had a good start in the UFC, but is now on a two-fight skid with a split decision loss to Court McGee and a first round knockout at the hands of Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. He now gets a chance to get back in the win column in his native New Zealand against a fellow welterweight who has also experienced his share of recent bad luck. Rhodes made his promotional debut in January, dropping a unanimous decision to George Sullivan. He now has a professional Mixed Martial Arts record of 6-2 and will be making the long flight to New Zealand to take on the TUF: Smashes winner on his home turf. Following a poor performance in his debut, this is a lot to ask of a fighter who is still maturing. The cards are certainly against Rhodes, and the betting odds indeed reflect that. Whitaker opened as a -245 favorite, with the return on the underdog Rhoades being +175. Money quickly came in on Whitaker, making the current betting lines -300/+250 at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Next up is the bout I am most looking forward to on the entire card and it comes in the featherweight division. Talented grapplers Hatsu Hioki and Charles Oliveira will be facing off against each other inside the Octagon, and I believe this fight has a great chance of producing fireworks. The betting odds for this one opened up at a near-coin flip, with Oliveira being -125 and Hioki being -115. However, the public has come in on the Brazilian, making him a -195 favorite, while Hioki sits as a +165 underdog. The co-main event of the evening will be a heavyweight tilt in the form of Jared “Big Show” Rosholt vs Soa “The Hulk” Palelei. The New Zealand native did not look good in his promotional debut against Nikita Krylov, but has since impressed with back-to-back first round finishes of Pat Barry and Ruan Potts. He makes a quick turnaround for a hometown fight against his toughest test to date in talented wrestler Jared Rosholt. Rosholt has also been making some noise in the UFC’s heavyweight division, with an impressive come-from-behind unanimous decision victory over Walt Harris, a fight in which he displayed great heart. He backed that up with another unanimous decision victory, coming against Polish fighter Daniel Omielanczuk. In a quick turnaround for the former Oklahoma State wrestler, he will be taking a long flight to enemy territory to take on the most talented striker and hardest hitting opponent he has yet to face in Palelei. The long flight, jet lag, and crowd noise could certainly play a factor in this one, but what this fight will mostly come down to is Rosholt’s chin vs Palelei’s takedown defense. Sometimes Rosholt opts to stand and trade with his opponents, which could prove to be a devastating mistake against Palelei. Rosholt opened as a -230 betting favorite in this bout, with the return on the underdog Palelei being +170. Action has since been coming in on Palelei, making the current lines a close and tight -150/+130. Headlining the event will be a five-round middleweight contest between Nate Marquardt, who is making his return to the division, and James Te Huna, who is making his 185-pound debut. This will be Marquardt’s first fight at 185-pounds in over three years, as he dropped down to welterweight and had captured Nick Diaz’s vacant title in the interim. Te Huna has had cardio issues in the past, so it will be interesting to see how the weight cut affects him. Being the former light heavyweight fighting the former welterweight, he will certainly have the size advantage going into this one. The former Strikeforce welterweight champion opened as the betting underdog in this bout at +150, with the hometown favorite Te Huna being -190. Action has come in on the former light heavyweight, making the current betting lines +180/-220.
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