The UFC makes a return trip to the Land Down Under this Saturday at Fight Night 85. Two veteran heavyweights will meet in the main event as Mark Hunt takes on Frank Mir. In the co-main event potential welterweight title challengers will square off when Neil Magny fights Hector Lombard. We will also be privileged to see the model Alan Jouban back in the octagon and former hockey enforcer Steve Bosse try to redeem himself after a KO loss in his UFC debut. With that, lets get to the predictions for the main card.
Mark Hunt (-175 favorite) vs Frank Mir (+145 underdog)
In the main event of the evening, fan favorite Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt takes on former UFC champion Frank Mir. After going on a four fight losing streak from 2012-2014, Mir was able to resurrect his career by going 2-1 in 2015. Hunt is coming off a rebound win against Antonio Silva after dropping his previous two fights.
At 41 years old, one would think that Hunt would be slowing down. However, in his fight against Silva, Hunt visibly looked fitter than we’ve ever seen. A change in diet and lifestyle appeared to rejuvenate the Super Samoan and the speed which highlighted his best kickboxing years seems to have returned. Hunt’s style is clear, avoid takedowns and submissions until he can knock the other dude out. Eight of his 11 career wins have come by way of knockout. His favorite punch is also his best one, the lead left hook.
Hunt is surprisingly quick for a heavyweight and can close distance with great speed despite his lack of height and reach in the division (this can be observed in his fight with 6’11” Stefan Struve). Defensively, Hunt is an above average wrestler. When opponents have been able to take him down they have usually been able to wear on him until the referee steps in to stop the fight. His guard is virtually non existent. Early in fights, Hunt is usually able to use his explosiveness to get back to his feet, but when the later rounds come he typically lays on his back until the round ends or the ref stands them back up.
Frank Mir could be at the tail end of what has been an illustrious career. The BJJ black belt has won only two of his last seven fights. His route to victory is the polar opposite of Hunt’s. If Frank Mir can get the fight to the mat there is no reason to think that he won’t win the fight. Debate-ably the greatest heavyweight grappling artist of all time, half of his wins have come by way of submission. Mir has been known to break bones if his opponent does not tap, ala Antonio Nogueira. The big problem at this point of his career is his lack of explosiveness. This directly effects his ability to gain takedowns.
Prediction: Mir is no slouch on the feet, however his best chance to win is either to submit Hunt or repeatedly take him down and keep him there until the final horn sounds. The more likely scenario is that Hunt is able to fend off the early takedown attempts until Mir gets frustrated and tries to strike with him. At this point, its just a matter of time until Hunt connects with his lead left hook and then straight right. Hunt by devastating knockout in round 2 is the pick.
Neil Magny (-145 favorite) vs Hector Lombard (+115 underdog)
In the co-main event of the evening, Hector Lombard returns after a year long suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs to face rising welterweight contender Neil Magny. The winner of this fight could potentially set themselves up for a number one contender’s fight next.
Winner of 9 our of his last 10, Neil Magny has grown leaps and bounds since his UFC debut in 2013. He has also been one of the UFC’s most active fighters, fighting 13 times from 2013-2015. He has fought 10 times in the last two years alone. He won his last fight on short notice against Kelvin Gastelum in November. One of Magny’s greatest improvements has been in his ability to use his superior length. He has recently been able to sit behind his long jab to keep opponents out of their range while still being in his. His grappling has also improved.
In the aforementioned fight with Kelvin Gastelum, Magny was able to control the former wrestler on the ground for the first two rounds. Magny is comfortable in the clinch and is a decently strong guy for the division. Defensively, Magny has looked very good when he has been able to keep the distance and move his head. His biggest problem in the past has been when he has gotten too comfortable. He barely won a split-decision against Gastelum after being thoroughly dominated in the last round, almost being knocked unconscious multiple times. He has lost three out of four times by submission.
Former Bellator star Hector Lombard will be Magny’s biggest challenge to date. Although he is a decorated judoka, Lombard has often chosen to stand and bang with his opponents. Nineteen of his 34 professional wins have come by way of KO or TKO. His former nickname of ‘Lightning’ fit him very well. The speed in his hands is almost unmatched in the division. On the feet Lombard seeks to land his lead right hook, often throwing combos of two or more right hooks in a row before connecting. He is one of the stronger fighters in the division, fighting most of his career at middleweight before eventually cutting to welterweight after joining the UFC.
As expected from a man with as much training in judo as he has, Lombard is exceptional in the clinch. He can mix in different trips and throws to get the fight to the ground and hunt for a submission. If there is one hole in his game, it would be his questionable cardio. Lombard has often gassed in later rounds, as typically happens to fighters with his muscular build.
Prediction: There are two ways that I see this fight going: A) Magny uses his reach advantage and better cardio to keep Lombard away from him and win a decision and B) Lombard closes the distance with his phenomenal speed and either scores a knockout or throws Magny to the ground where he can submit him. Although Magny is continuously improving, I think option B is more likely. Lombard will take a couple minutes to figure out how to get inside Magny’s range, but once he does its just a matter of time. The fight will go to the clinch where Lombard will throw Magny to the ground. He will land a few punches that hurt Magny before he locks up a submission. Lombard by second round armbar.
James Te Huna (-250 favorite) vs Steve Bosse (+195 underdog)
Don’t blink. This one should be quick, really quick. Of their combined 26 wins, 18 have come by way of knockout. James Te Huna enters this fight on the back of three consecutive losses, all of which ended in the first round. Bosse is coming off a knockout loss in his UFC debut back in June of last year. The former hockey enforcer lasted all of 29 seconds before getting kicked unconscious. Both fighters desperately need a win here; Te Huna’s job is probably on the line and Bosse needs to prove that he has what it takes to compete at the highest level.
Prediction: Both men throw with incredible power, so this could be as simple as the first man who lands will win the fight. Expect the two to be a little more timid than usual at the beginning of the first round due to their recent quick loss histories. After a minute or two somebody will throw the first power punch, my bet is it will be Te Huna. Rejuvenated by the roar of the hometown crowd, Te Huna will land big towards the middle of the round and Bosse will be separated from his consciousness yet again. Te Huna by first round knockout in a quick but entertaining fight.
Johnny Case defeats Jake Matthews via second round submission
Antonio Carlos Jr. defeats Daniel Kelly by unanimous decision
Seo Hee Ham defeats Bec Rawlings by unanimous decision
Alan Jouban defeats Brendan O’Reilly by first round knockout