Jessica-Rose Clark already feels near title shot in 'wide open' flyweight division

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SYDNEY – Although she’s only one fight into her octagon tenure and still hasn’t technically made the weight class, Jessica-Rose Clark feels like a contender in the UFC women’s flyweight division.

Clark (8-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who made her promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 121 on Saturday with a split-decision win over Bec Rawlings (7-7 MMA, 2-4 UFC), came in two pounds overweight after accepting the contest, which co-headlined the FS1-televised card at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, on just 11 days’ notice.

Still, Clark feels beating Rawlings puts her on the map at 125 pounds. She regrets not making the limit, but knows she can in the future. Moreover, given the fact it was just the third bout scheduled for the weight class under the UFC banner, Clark believes the win puts her in a good position.

“100 percent, I’m supposed to be in flyweight,” Clark told MMAjunkie following her win. “I’ve felt like that for a long time and it’s just taken me a while to get my weight in check and make sure my preparation is key. It’s wide open. I feel like I’m a couple fights away from being able to fight for the belt anyway after they crown it Dec. 1 (at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale). I feel I stack up well with anybody they give me.”

Clark’s UFC debut came together in a whirlwind situation. She stepped in as a short-notice replacement for Joanne Calderwood and defeated a veteran opponent. It was a closely matched fight over three rounds, resulting in a split call from the judges. The all-Aussie matchup was something Clark saw in her future for quite some time, but didn’t expect it to come under the given circumstances.

“Everything about this fight and the matchup was amazing,” Clark said. “It felt like the perfect storm. It’s my 30th (birthday) in a few days and I really wanted to come home, but I couldn’t afford it. Then this fight happened and it was against Bec. This fight has been talked about in Aussie MMA for about five years now, but we were always two divisions apart. It’s crazy it finally happened, and it happened on the biggest stage in the world.”

Although missing weight will somewhat put an asterisk next to the win, Clark was just pleased to get her hand raised. She believes she would have finished Rawlings inside the distance with a full training camp, and said she hopes to have that opportunity ahead of her next fight.

“I honestly thought I could have finished that fight,” Clark said. “Obviously I took it on pretty short notice and had a tough weight cut. I feel like with a bit of better preparation I could have finished it in the second. I almost finished it anyway. I’m sure happy with that. As each fight goes by, they get better and better.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 121 post-event facts: A long night leads to a dubious new record

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The UFC’s latest trip to Australia took place Saturday with UFC Fight Night 121, which went down at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney and aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

The heavyweight headliner saw Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 11-4 UFC) defeat Marcin Tybura (16-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) by unanimous decision, concluding a 13-fight card that featured 10 fights decided by the scorecards.

It was a lengthy night of fights, but nevertheless the UFC’s 11th event “Down Under” produced some notable results. For more on the numbers to come out of Saturday’s lineup, check below for 45 post-event facts about UFC Fight Night 121.

* * * *

General

Allphones Arena (now Qudos Bank Arena)

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $122,500.

Debuting fighters went 4-1 at the event.

Nik Lentz, Tai Tuivasa and Damien Brown earned $50,000 UFC Fight Night 121 fight-night bonuses. Frank Camacho’s $50,000 bonus was withheld because he missed weight.

UFC Fight Night 121 drew an announced attendance of 10,021. No live gate was revealed for the event.

Betting favorites went 10-3 on the card.

Total fight time for the 13-bout card was 3:04:18, the longest in the UFC’s 418-event history.

UFC Fight Night 121 featured 10 decisions, tied for the most on a single card in UFC history.

Main card

Fabricio Werdum

Werdum earned his second UFC victory in a 42-day stretch.

Werdum improved to 9-2 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in February 2012.

Tybura has suffered both of his UFC losses by decision.

Jessica-Rose Clark (8-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) improved to 3-3 (with one no-contest) in her past seven fights.

Bec Rawlings’ (7-7 MMA, 2-4 UFC) three-fight losing skid is the longest of her career. She hasn’t earned a victory since March 2016.

Rawlings was unsuccessful in her UFC women’s flyweight debut.

Rawlings has suffered five of her seven career losses by decision.

Belal Muhammad

Belal Muhammad (13-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has earned nine of his 13 career victories by decision. That includes three of his four UFC wins.

Tim Means (27-9-1 MMA, 9-6 UFC) fell to 7-4 (with one no-contest) since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in May 2014.

Means has suffered four of his six UFC losses by decision.

Jake Matthews (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) was successful in his return to the UFC welterweight division.

Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-3-1 UFC) fell to 1-3-1 since he dropped to the UFC welterweight division in July 2016.

Velickovic has suffered all six of his career losses by decision.

Elias Theodorou

Elias Theodorou (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has earned four of his six UFC victories by decision.

Theodorou failed to complete a takedown in a winning performance for the first time in his UFC career.

Daniel Kelly (13-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) suffered consecutive losses for the first time in his career.

Kelly suffered the first decision loss of his career.

Alex Volkanovski (16-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) extended his winning streak to 13 consecutive fights. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since May 2013.

Shane Young (11-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) has suffered all four of his career losses by decision.

Preliminary card

Ryan Benoit

Ryan Benoit (10-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC) has alternated wins and losses over his past nine fights.

Benoit has earned eight of his 10 career victories by stoppage.

Benoit earned just the second knockout victory stemming from a head kick in UFC flyweight history. Louis Smolka also accomplished the feat.

Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Nik Lentz

Lentz (28-8-2 MMA, 12-5-1 UFC) improved to 3-1 since he returned to the UFC lightweight division in December 2015.

Lentz earned his first submission victory since March 26, 2011 – a span of 2,429 days (more than six years) and 13 fights.

Lentz’s 18 guillotine choke submission attempts in UFC competition are the most in company history.

Will Brooks (18-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC) suffered his third consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since July 2016.

Brooks has suffered all four of his career losses by stoppage.

Tai Tuivasa

Tuivasa (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned all six of his career victories by stoppage.

Tuivasa has earned all of his career victories by knockout.

Tuivasa earned just the second knockout victory stemming from a flying knee in UFC heavyweight history. Werdum also accomplished the feat.

Rashad Coulter (8-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) suffered consecutive losses for the first time in his career.

Coulter has suffered all three of his career losses by stoppage.

Frank Camacho

Camacho (21-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) was successful in his UFC lightweight debut.

Nadia Kassem (5-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) earned the first decision victory of her career.

Alex Chambers (5-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC) suffered the first decision loss of her career.

Jenel Lausa (7-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has suffered both of his UFC losses by decision.

Adam Wieczorek (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) extended his winning streak to eight fights. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since November 2011.

Wieczorek earned the first decision victory of his career.

Anthony Hamilton’s (15-9 MMA, 3-7 UFC) four-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since July 2016.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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UFC Fight Night 121 Athlete Outfitting pay: Yearly payout approaches $5.5 million

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SYDNEY – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 121 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $122,500.

UFC Fight Night 121 took place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. The card aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Three fighters led with the way with $15,000 payouts, including former UFC champ Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 11-4 UFC), who earned a unanimous-decision victory in the main event.

The full UFC Fight Night 121 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Fabricio Werdum: $15,000
def. Marcin Tybura: $2,500

Jessica-Rose Clark: $2,500
def. Bec Rawlings: $5,000

Belal Muhammad: $5,000
def. Tim Means: $15,000

Jake Matthews: $5,000
def. Bojan Velickovic: $5,000

Elias Theodorou: $5,000
def. Daniel Kelly: $5,000

Alex Volkanovski: $2,500
def. Shane Young: $2,500

Ryan Benoit: $5,000
def. Ashkan Mokhtarian: $2,500

Nik Lentz: $15,000
def. Will Brooks: $2,500

Tai Tuivasa: $2,500
def. Rashad Coulter: $2,500

Frank Camacho: $2,500
def. Damien Brown: $2,500

Nadia Kassem: $2,500
def. Alex Chambers: $2,500

Eric Shelton: $2,500
def. Jenel Lausa: $2,500

Adam Wieczorek: $2,500
def. Anthony Hamilton: $5,000

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $5,445,000
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $15,768,000

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of UFC-Sydney with well-timed AC/DC (RIP, Malcolm Young)

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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

While it takes intense training, world-class skills and maybe even a bit of luck to register a UFC win, picking the right song to accompany you to the cage is a key talent, as well.

See what the fighters of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Fabricio Werdum def. Marcin Tybura via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46)

Fabricio Werdum: “Akhmat Fight Club” by Sharpuddi Ismailov

Marcin Tybura: “40:1” by Sabaton

Jessica-Rose Clark def. Bec Rawlings via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Jessica-Rose Clark: “Only One” by John Butler Trio

Bec Rawlings: “Natural Born Killaz” by Dr. Dre feat. Ice Cube

Belal Muhammad def. Tim Means via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Belal Muhammad: “We Ready” by Archie Eversole

Tim Means: “Ladies and Gentleman” by Saliva

Jake Matthews def. Bojan Velickovic via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Jake Matthews: “Hard as a Rock” by AC/DC

Bojan Velickovic: “I Lived” by OneRepublic

Elias Theodorou def. Daniel Kelly via unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 30-26)

Elias Theodorou: “Don’t Forget Me” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Daniel Kelly: “Most People I Know” by Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs

Alex Volkanovski def. Shane Young via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

Alex Volkanovski: “Game of Thrones” theme (Violin Rock Cover) by Jason Yang & Roger Lima

Shane Young: “Dedicated To” by Home Brew

Ryan Benoit def. Ashkan Mokhtarian via knockout (head kick) – Round 3, 2:38

Ryan Benoit: “What They Want” by Russ

Ashkan Mokhtarian: “Can’t See Me” by Tupac

Nik Lentz def. Will Brooks via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 2, 2:05

Nik Lentz: “Greatest Show Unearthed” by Creature Feature

Will Brooks: “I’m Ill” by Red Cafe feat. Fabolous

Tai Tuivasa def. Rashad Coulter via knockout (flying knee) – Round 1, 4:35

Tai Tuivasa: “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton

Rashad Coulter: “Worth” by Anthony Brown

Frank Camacho def. Damien Brown via split decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)

Frank Camacho: “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

Damien Brown: “Bad Company” by Five Finger Death Punch

Nadia Kassem def. Alex Chambers via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)

Nadia Kassem: “I Rep That West” by Ice Cube

Alex Chambers: “The Greatest” by Sia feat. Kendrick Lamar

Eric Shelton def. Jenel Lausa via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-25)

Eric Shelton: “Bout 2 Blow” by Empire Cast feat. Yazz & Timberland

Jenel Lausa: “Bebot” by The Black Eyed Peas

Adam Wieczorek def. Anthony Hamilton via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Adam Wieczorek: “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil

Anthony Hamilton: “Last Breath” by Future

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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UFC Fight Night 121 results: Jessica-Rose Clark takes split from Bec Rawlings

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In a short-notice call-up to the UFC, Jessica-Rose Clark impressed on just 11 days’ notice with a split-decision win over Bec Rawlings.

Clark (8-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) got a pair of 29-28 scores against Rawlings (7-7 MMA, 2-4 UFC), who got a 29-28 of her own. Rawlings appeared to be shocked by the decision.

The catchweight bout (Clark missed the flyweight limit) was the co-main event of today’s UFC Fight Night 121 event at at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Rawlings came out swinging, but so did Clark. A minute in, Rawlings caught a Clark kick and drove her straight down to the canvas. Rawlings went to work on top in Clark’s guard. There, Rawlings landed some heavy hands and used them to pop out to half-guard. But Clark perfectly reversed and got on top with Rawlings settled back into guard.

Midway through, Rawlings threatened with an armbar, but couldn’t hold it when Clark slid around to side control. With 90 seconds left, the fight moved back to the feet and Rawlings marched Clark straight down for a body kick. Clark landed some nice overhand rights, but kept backing up to be cautious of Rawlings’ attacks.

Rawlings went to the center in the second and pushed Clark outside. Clark circled and landed a right, then got inside for a few more punches. But Rawlings kept chasing her down and clinched up a minute in. Clark muscled Rawlings around and reversed position on the fence, then Rawlings reversed.

Just ahead of the midway point, Clark broke free. Clark landed a big right hand, then took Rawlings to the canvas. With two minutes left, Clark worked for an arm-triangle choke, then tried to jump to mount. With 45 seconds left, Clark broke the choke off and landed a heavy elbow, then a few more to close out the round.

Both fighters came out slugging in the third. Rawlings tried a spinning attack 20 seconds in. Clark threw heavy leg kicks. Ninety seconds in, Rawlings backed Clark up with a 1-2, but Clark stayed right in the pocket for body kicks. Midway through, Rawlings landed some heavy punches to the chin. With two minutes left, Rawlings landed a big right hand that seemed to hurt Clark. In response, Clark clinched up – but Rawlings got the takedown with 80 seconds left. Clark got back to her fee with 50 seconds left and kept Rawlings tied up for a short takedown that may have sealed the deal.

Clark now has won back-to-back fights following a two-fight skid. Rawlings saw her losing skid hit three fights.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 121 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Sydney.)

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Sydney staff picks: Who got unanimous nods in Australia?

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Werdum
vs.
Tybura
Clark
vs.
Rawlings
Means
vs.
Muhammad
Matthews
vs.
Velickovic
Kelly
vs.
Theodorou
Volkanovski
vs.
Young
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 112-74
werdum2017
Werdum
(79%)
rawlings2017
Rawlings
(62%)
means2017
Means
(66%)
matthews2017
Matthews
(66%)
theodorou2017
Theodorou
(64%)
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
(88%)
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 117-69
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 116-70
trophy copy 2015 Champion
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 115-71
werdum2017
Werdum
jroseclark2017
Clark
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 115-71
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 115-71
trophy copy 2016 Champion
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 110-76
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
kelly2017
Kelly
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 109-77
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
kelly2017
Kelly
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 108-78
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
muhammad2017
Muhammad
matthews2017
Matthews
kelly2017
Kelly
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 106-80
trophy copy 2014 Champion
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 106-80
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
muhammad2017
Muhammad
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski

The UFC is back in Australia this week and one of the world’s great destination cities: Sydney.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) takes on Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who is filling in for Mark Hunt. Werdum is more than a 3-1 favorite, and he’s also one of a pair of unanimous picks on the main card from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

Also a unanimous pick, welterweight Jake Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) fights in front of his home fans in Australia and is a 10-0 choice over Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC). The other unanimous pick comes in the fight that opens the main card. Australian featherweight Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is as much as an 8-1 favorite over short-notice replacement Shane Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC), and to little surprise is a 10-0 pick from our staff.

In the co-feature, a pair of Australian women battle at flyweight when another short-notice fighter, Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), takes on Bec Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC). The oddsmakers have the fight as a close one, with Rawlings just a slight favorite. But she’s a 9-1 overwhelming choice from our pickers.

Also on the main card, Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) is an 8-2 choice over Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in their welterweight fight. And Canada’s Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is a 7-3 pick over Australia’s own Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in their middleweight fight.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Werdum, Rawlings, Means, Matthews, Theodorou and Volkanovski are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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10 reasons to watch UFC-Sydney, none of which include hotel drama

The UFC is in Australia on Saturday for UFC Fight Night 121. Headlining the event is a heavyweight scrap between former champion Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura.

Werdum steps into the octagon having fought 42 days ago at UFC 216. He defeated Walt Harris via first-round submission on that card. Werdum got the nod for the Australia card after the UFC pulled Tybura’s original opponent, Mark Hunt, from the event over medical concerns. Tybura’s most recent fight was in June. He earned a decision over former champion Andrei Arlovski in that contest. There’s no doubt two consecutive wins over former champs would boost his status in the division.

In the co-main event, two Australian fighters meet when Bec Rawlings welcomes UFC newcomer Jessica-Rose Clark to the octagon.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. The race is on

With heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic unbooked for his next title defense, the rest of the division is left to jockey for position to be that next opponent. That includes the man Miocic took the title from, Werdum.

Werdum, currently, ranked No. 3 in the division according to the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, has his work cut out for him in that regard since he’s gone 2-1 since his loss to Miocic. Knowing that, Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) seems to be taking the volume route back to title consideration. He faces Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in Sydney a few weeks removed from his recent win over Harris.

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Tybura, the man who hopes to play spoiler to Werdum’s plan, is currently an honorable mention in the rankings.

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2. Moving on up

Rawlings is under pressure heading into her first flyweight bout. She’s 2-3 since she joined the UFC, with losses in her past two outings. Rawlings was also one-and-a-half pounds overweight ahead of her most recent fight, a decision loss to Tecia Torres.

Rawlings’ (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) opponent, Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), steps in as a late injury replacement for Joanne Calderwood.

While Clark might be an unknown quantity, don’t expect her to wilt under the bright lights of the UFC. In her two most recent fights, she faced former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman and veteran Carina Damm. She lost to Kaufman and defeated Damm; both fights went the distance.

Clark mostly throws power punches and heavy low kicks with an occasional combination. She struggles if the fight hits the ground and she ends up in bottom position. Expect her to try and keep this one standing.

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3. The repairs are complete

It’s no surprise to see Australia-born Jake Matthews on this card. The 23-year-old has fought seven times for the UFC. Six of those outings took place in his home country or in nearby New Zealand. However, Matthews enters this fight on a two-fight losing skid. His most recent defeat was a November 2016 split-decision loss to Andrew Holbrook.

Healed up after undergoing surgery on both hips, Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) moves back to welterweight, where he began his MMA career, for this fight against Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC). Like Matthews, the Serbian is coming off a loss. He dropped a unanimous decision to Darren Till in his most recent bout.

Early in his career, it seemed the UFC had Matthews pegged as a promotable fighter for its Australian market. His losing skid seems to have dampened that enthusiasm, as he dropped from the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 101 to the middle of the main card in Sydney.

If the added weight and repaired hips get Matthews back in the win column, expect the promotion’s interest in him to revive.

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4. Work with what you’ve got

Daniel Kelly doesn’t have the chiseled body of many UFC fighters. The 40-year-old Australian’s knees appear to be held together by braces and tape. He’s been an underdog in almost all of his UFC fights.

Despite these apparent shortcomings, Kelly went unbeaten between November 2015 and March 2017. His most prominent win was a unanimous-decision victory over former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans at UFC 209. Kelly’s feel-good story then ended in June, when Derek Brunson knocked him out.

Kelly’s opponent, Elias Theodorou, is also coming off a loss. The 29-year-old Canadian dropped a decision to Brad Tavares in July.

Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is a four-time Olympian in judo, so expect him to try to work from the clinch against his younger opponent. As for Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), he’s one of the more cerebral fighters at middleweight. He crafts a gameplan specific to his opponents, and he generally sticks with that approach.

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5. High expectations

Alex Volkanovski could become the next big thing out of Australia. He joined the UFC in 2016 with a record of 13-1 and a long list of titles from smaller MMA promotions. Now 2-0 with the UFC, he faces Shane Young at featherweight.

Volkanovski is a powerful striker with good takedown skills, but he excels on the ground. When he gets his opponent to the mat, the Australian likes to posture up and rain down heavy ground strikes. Those ground strikes earned him a second-round TKO in his UFC debut.

Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is the third scheduled opponent for Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) for this card. The New Zealand-born fighter’s two previously booked opponents withdrew due to injury. Young, who is on a five-fight winning streak, stepped up on less than a weeks’ notice to take this fight.

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6. Looking for a foothold

Ryan Benoit has struggled since joining the UFC’s flyweight division in 2013. He’s alternated wins and losses and been unable to generate any momentum, even with a knockout of Sergio Pettis in 2015. His most recent fight was a split-decision loss to Brandon Moreno.

Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) faces Ashkan Mokhtarian in Sydney. Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) debuted with the UFC in June. He entered that fight against John Moraga with 12 career stoppage victories. The Iranian-born fighter left that matchup with his second career loss.

Like Mokhtarian, when Benoit does win, it’s usually via stoppage. He has seven knockouts and one submission in his eight victories. With their recent losses, expect both of these men to do their best to avoid a second consecutive defeat.

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7. Back meet wall

Will Brooks joined the UFC’s lightweight division with a lot of hype. Before he signed with the promotion, the former Bellator champion ran off eight straight wins. He won his UFC debut, but Brooks has since been stopped in his two most recent bouts by unranked fighters.

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To date, Brooks’ performances with the UFC have been uninspired. That could change when he faces Nik Lentz, who is also coming off a loss. If you recall, the UFC pulled Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC) from his scheduled fight against Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) at UFC 216 due to “medical issues” on weigh-in day. Brooks had already made weight for the lightweight bout before the promotion scratched the contest. No fighter wants to go through camp and a weight cut only to do the same thing a month later.

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8. Let’s try this in a different hemisphere

Anthony Hamilton and Adam Wieczorek were set to face off at UFC Fight Night 118. However, the heavyweight bout was scratched the day before the event due to security concerns inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The UFC made that decision after both fighters made weight at the official weigh-ins. The two now meet more than 9,750 miles away in Sydney.

Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who makes his UFC debut on this card, is on a seven-fight winning streak. Each of his victories have come by way of stoppage. Wieczorek’s sole loss was a 2011 decision defeat to Tybura. Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) briefly toyed with retirement after his most recent fight, his third consecutive first-round stoppage defeat.

9. In a hurry

Nadia Kassem has just four fights to her name. Kassem, who recently turned 22, won each of those bouts by first round knockout. Three of those stoppages came in under 30 seconds. Nicknamed “187,” Kassem’s longest outing was her most recent, when she nearly hit the 90-second mark. Her total fight time is 2:22.

Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets fellow Aussie Alex Chambers in this strawweight contest. The 39-year-old Chambers (5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has not fought since Paige VanZant submitted her in September 2015. Her opponent has fought three times since then.

Expect Kassem to come out fast and test Chambers’ cage readiness after such a long time away.

10. KO kings

Expect action in the heavyweight opener. Neither Rashad Coulter nor his opponent Tai Tuivasa have ever gone the distance. All eight of Coulter’s (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) wins have come by knockout, while Tuivasa (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has five first-round KO victories in five professional fights.

The 24-year-old Tuivasa, who makes his UFC debut in his home country, is a former rugby player. He left that sport five years ago to focus on boxing and MMA. He’s a training partner of Mark Hunt, who he cornered at UFC 209. His brother-in-law is UFC competitor Tyson Pedro.

Tuivasa has been sidelined for more than a year. He underwent knee surgery following his October 2016 win over former UFC fighter James McSweeney. Coulter’s most recent fight, his UFC debut, ended in a second-round knockout loss to Chase Sherman. Coulter displayed an incredibly durable chin in that “Fight of the Night” bonus-winning performance.

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For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Sydney in-depth breakdown: Stylistic matchups, fight picks, best bets and fantasy studs

MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC Fight Night 121’s main-card bouts.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 40 Weight: 242 lbs. Reach: 77″
  • Last fight: Submission win over Walt Harris (Oct. 7, 2017)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC heavyweight champion
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ 6 KO victories
+ 11 submission wins
+ 10 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Dynamic attack arsenal
+ Deceptively effective showman
^ Baits/taunts opposition into game
+ Dangerous from Thai plum
+/- Aggressive in exchanges
^ Counter availabilities
+ Superb submission and ground game
+ Excellent sweeps and scrambles
+ Thrives and capitalizes in chaos

Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 32 Weight: 243 lbs. Reach: 78″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Andrei Arlovski (June 6, 2017)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Multiple heavyweight MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 7 KO victories
+ 6 submission wins
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Improved striking combinations
^ Good economy of movement
+ Accurate kicks and knees
^ Works well off of lead leg
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Sneaky elbows and solid defense
+ Underrated wrestling ability
^ Well-timed takedowns
+ Excellent transitional grappler
^ Floats, rides, finds way to back

Summary:

The main event in Sydney features a heavyweight showdown between Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura.

Coming off of an impromptu matchup against Walt Harris last month, Werdum, the former champion, will step in for Mark Hunt and attempt to take out another young gun.

Seeking to stop the Brazilian is Tybura, a Polish prospect who is riding a three-fight winning streak, most recently defeating another former champ in Andrei Arlovski.

Despite being criticized early on for his lack of striking presence, Tybura has steadily developed a kickboxing game since coming into the UFC.

Actively prodding with a jab, Tybura will casually add in his right hand, variating between casting punches or hammerfists. Like many Eastern European and Russian kickboxers, Tybura typically punctuates combinations with kicks off of his lead leg.

When using strikes to mask his clinch entries, Tybura has shown a good sense about where potential danger may be coming from, as he now does a better job of moving his head appropriately with his punches. And considering that the Pole has spent this training camp stateside at Jackson-Wink MMA, I can only imagine that his game has continued to grow.

But regardless of Tybura’s potential growth, his counterpart – though a grappling champion – may be his stiffest striking test to date.

Under the care of Rafael Cordeiro, Werdum has steadily parlayed his sporadic showmanship into more of a pressure-fighting process. Putting together his punches more fluidly, the Brazilian will finish his combinations with hard kicks or knees in the clinch.

However, when not throwing in combination, he has a tendency to throw his kicks naked and without setup, as Werdum has been dropped in four of his last nine outings due to right hands finding their mark. That said, many of the former champion’s falls may have been arguable flops given that he is known for his in-cage baits and showmanship.

Akin to a basketball player trying to draw an offensive foul, Werdum will deceptively roll with punches as he relinquishes to his back. Although this may not win Werdum favor with the fans and judges, there is a method to his madness.

Presenting the ambush known as his guard game, Werdum offers up a unique predicament to all who approach.

As we’ve seen time-and-time-again, the Brazilian can submit world champions here – but more importantly, he creates situations to sweep and scramble his way topside, often utilizing deep-half and X-guard variations to escape out the back door.

If Werdum’s opposition decides not to pursue him into deep waters, then they inherently let him off the hook if he is in fact hurt, or give him a breather to recover at the very least. This tactic has stifled the best of killer instincts and has allowed the former champion back into many of fights.

Nevertheless, Werdum cannot get too comfortable in his comfort zone, as Tybura is no novice.

An accomplished brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Tybura has translated his grappling game seamlessly into MMA. Doing his best work when on top, the Pole utilizes positioning fundamentals and shoulder pressure to help persuade opposition into giving their back.

Once Tybura can establish some form of mount, he will quickly get to work with strikes to help set up his submission efforts. And though this type of route is highly unlikely against a competitor the caliber of Werdum, Tybura still has the skills to perhaps strategically score points on top, making any potential grappling stanzas even more compelling.

If neither man is successful in getting to the mat on their terms, then crucial parts of this contest will take place in the clinch.

Inside of close quarters, Tybura offers slick elbows off of forearm frames and a solid awareness of hip positioning and underhooks. Still, I side with Werdum in this space, as the Brazilian has developed a devastating Thai clinch since his second run with the promotion.

Currently, the oddsmakers and public have Werdum pegged as the clear favorite to win. But as recent UFC cards have proven, 3-1 odds in a heavyweight matchup can be a tricky and treacherous thing.

Even though Werdum is the better on-paper fighter who has a higher finishing potential both standing and on the floor, I could easily see a scenario where Tybura catches him at the end of a combination. The problem – in my opinion – is that Tybura ultimately allows for too much of the fight’s flow to be decided by his opponent.

For this reason, Tybura can be subject to making fights closer than they arguably should, as he often finds himself stuck against the fence and or short on initiative (and possibly gas). Should Tybura allow for Werdum to establish his pressure and presence, then I see the former champion steadily picking apart the Pole on the feet, and eventually finding his finish on the floor.

Official pick: Werdum inside the distance

Official outcome: To be determined

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Bec Rawlings feeling like a different fighter with no need to worry about a stupid weight cut

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SYDNEY – Bec Rawlings had been itching for the UFC to add a women’s flyweight division for a while. This week, she finally gets to take advantage of her wish.

Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) meets fellow Australian fighter and UFC newcomer Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 121 in front of their home-country fans. After missing the strawweight limit in her most recent fight, Rawlings is glad the days dropping an extra 10 pounds are over.

“Last week, I felt awesome – I had so much energy,” Rawlings told MMAjunkie this week in Sydney. “I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel right. Something feels wrong.’ My coach was like, ‘Yeah, you’re in good shape, and you’re healthy.’ It’s an amazing feeling that I can just focus on open workouts, focus on the media and my fight, and not have to worry about a stupid weight cut.”

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Rawlings will be trying to rebound from back-to-back losses to Paige VanZant and Tecia Torres, for whom she missed weight in February at UFC Fight Night 104.

She also will have to deal with a short-notice opponent in Clark, who took the fight a little more than a week ago after Rawlings’ original opponent, Joanne Calderwood, pulled out with an injury.

But Rawlings thinks Clark will bring it – and knows that a pair of Aussie women fighting in front of their home fans could turn in something special.

“The energy from the Australian crowd, it just feels like home,” Rawlings said. “It just gives you a different feeling and makes you want to work even harder out there.

” … It’s annoying getting last-minute changes, but her style is somewhat the same as Joanne. Joanne is somewhat technical, whereas Jess – she’s a tough Aussie. You look at all Aussie girl fighters – we’re tough, we’ve got heart. She’s skillful, and she’s tough, so it’s going to be a hard fight for me. But I’m confident I’m going to win.”

For more from Rawlings, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 121 pre-event facts: Fabricio Werdum brings big numbers

The UFC returns to Australia this weekend with UFC Fight Night 121, which takes place Saturday at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney and airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) makes a quick turnaround from a win at UFC 216 in October when he steps in for Mark Hunt against Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the headliner.

The card has experienced a number of changes on top of the main event, but nevertheless some notable names are still set to compete. For more on the numbers behind the UFC’s 11th fight card in Australia, check below for 40 pre-event facts for UFC Fight Night 121.

* * * *

Main event

Werdum, 40, is the oldest of the 26 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

Werdum, 40, is the second oldest active fighter in UFC heavyweight division behind Mark Hunt (43).

Werdum competes in his second UFC bout in a 42-day stretch. He defeated Walt Harris at UFC 216 in October.

Werdum’s 42-day turnaround between fights is the shortest of his more than 15-year career.

Werdum is 8-2 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in February 2012.

Werdum has earned seven of his 10 UFC victories by stoppage.

Marcin Tybura.

Werdum’s 65-second victory over Harris at UFC 216 was the fastest of his career.

Werdum’s five submission victories in UFC/Strikeforce heavyweight competition are tied for second most in combined divisional history behind Frank Mir (eight).

Tybura competes is in his second consecutive fight against a former UFC heavyweight champion. He defeated Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 111 in June.

Tybura’s three-fight UFC winning streak in heavyweight competition is the third longest active streak in the division behind Stipe Miocic (five) and Francis Ngannou (five).

Tybura has earned 13 of his 16 career victories by stoppage.

Tybura has earned both of his UFC stoppage victories by knockout.

Co-main event

Bec Rawlings.

Bec Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) makes her official debut in the UFC women’s flyweight division. She missed weight twice in the strawweight division.

Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes her UFC debut on short notice with just two victories in her past six fights dating back to June 2015.

Remaining main card

Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) is 7-3 (with one no-contest) since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in May 2014.

Means has earned 22 of his 27 career victories by stoppage. That includes five of his nine UFC wins.

Means’ four stoppage victories since 2015 in UFC welterweight competition are tied with Donald Cerrone for second most in the division behind Vicente Luque (five).

Belal Muhammad.

Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) has earned eight of his 12 career victories by decision.

Jake Matthews(10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) moves up to the UFC welterweight division after spending his entire octagon tenure at lightweight.

Matthews enters the event with back-to-back losses for the first time in his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since March 2016.

Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) fell to 1-2-1 since he dropped to the UFC welterweight division in July 2016.

Elias Theodorou.

Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has completed at least one takedown in six of his seven UFC appearances.

Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has won as the underdog in five of his six UFC victories.

Kelly has earned four of his six UFC victories by decision.

Kelly defends 65.2 percent of all opponent significant strike attempts in UFC middleweight competition, the third highest rate among active fighters in the weight class behind Thiago Santos (66.7 percent) and Michael Bisping (65.9 percent).

Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) enters the event on a 12-fight winning streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since May 2013.

Preliminary card

Ryan Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) has alternated wins and losses over his past eight fights. He suffered a loss in his most recent bout at the TUF 24 Finale in December.

Will Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) enters the event with back-to-back losses for the first time in his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since July 2016.

Nik Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC) is 2-1 since he returned to the UFC lightweight division in December 2015.

Lentz has landed two or more takedowns against 14 of his 18 UFC opponents.

Lentz’s 17 guillotine choke submission attempts in UFC competition are the most in company history.

Anthony Hamilton.

Anthony Hamilton’s (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) three-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He’s 1-4 in his past five fights overall and hasn’t earned a victory since July 2016.

Hamilton’s average fight time of 5:19 in UFC heavyweight competition is second shortest among active fighters in the weight class behind Francis Ngannou (4:35).

Hamilton has suffered five of his six UFC losses by stoppage.

Hamilton’s 14-second knockout of Damian Grabowski at UFC 201 is the second fastest in UFC heavyweight history. Only Todd Duffee’s seven-second knockout at UFC 102 was faster.

Adam Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut on a seven-fight winning streak. He hans’t suffered a defeat since November 2011.

Frank Camacho (20-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) drops to the UFC lightweight division after losing a welterweight bout in his debut.

Alex Chambers.

Alex Chambers(5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC), 39, is the second oldest active female on the UFC roster behind Marion Reneau (40).

Chambers returns to competition for the first time since Sept. 5, 2015. The 805-day layoff is the longest of her more than seven-year career.

Chambers’ submission of Kailin Curran at 3:15 of Round 3 at UFC Fight Night 65 stands as the latest third latest submission in a three-round UFC strawweight fight.

Chambers defeated Curran despite being outlanded by 37 significant strikes, the biggest deficit for a stoppage in a UFC strawweight fight.

Nadia Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), 21, is the youngest of the 26 fighters scheduled to compete at the event. She’s 18 years the junior of her opponent.

Rashad Coulter (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) has earned all nine of his career victories by knockout. That includes six wins in Round 1.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie