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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Belal Muhammad called out Colby Covington because of ignorant '5th-grade trash-talk'

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SYDNEY – UFC welterweight Belal Muhammad scored the biggest win of his career and immediately knew who he wanted to fight next.

Following his split decision over Tim Means on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 121, Muhammad (13-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) used his octagon interview to put some heat on MMA’s current biggest villain, Colby Covington, calling him a “little coward” and promising a hospital visit if they run into each other on the street.

“I just want to get a top-15 guy, hopefully Colby Covington,” Muhammad, who’s won three straight, told MMAjunkie backstage at Qudos Bank Arena. “He’s sitting on the sidelines begging (UFC champion Tyron) Woodley for a fight, but Woodley’s hurt. So, there’s nobody else for him to fight. All these other guys are already booked.

“Colby Covington needs an opponent. I’m here, December 30th, let’s do it. What’s up?”

Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) has been at the center of much controversy lately. It started last month after he defeated Demian Maia in Sao Paulo at UFC Fight Night 118, where he called the people of Brazil “filthy animals” during his post-fight speech. Covington hasn’t been the least bit apologetic for his racist remarks, instead only fanning the flames.

Covington’s ant-Brazil sentiment continued this week during an altercation with Fabricio Werdum that was caught on camera. The Brazilian heavyweight was charged with common assault for allegedly hitting Covington with a boomerang. Werdum said Covington was the instigator when he called Werdum a “Brazilian animal” as they crossed paths in the hotel lobby.

Near the end of his live-stream, Covington again went on an anti-Brazil tirade.

“F*ck Brazil. F*ck Fabricio Werdum. Little b*tch ass,” Covington said. “F*ck Brazil. A bunch of filthy animals. And they wonder why they get talked to like that. Because they’re a bunch of animals.”

It’s that kind of talk that Muhammad has no tolerance for. And that’s why he wants a piece of Covington inside the octagon.

“I got a lot of Brazilian fans, a lot of Brazilian friends. My coach is Brazilian,” Muhammad said. “When you disrespect the whole country like that, and it’s not even in a good way. You have like fifth-grade trash-talk. So it’s not even good trash-talk. It’s just being ignorant for no reason. When people talk like that, they deserve to get slapped. And I’m the guy to do the slapping.”

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

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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Fabricio Werdum and UFC Fight Night 121's other winning fighters?

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The octagon doesn’t touch down in Sydney very often, but UFC Fight Night 121 provided plenty of cage time for the Australian fans. All six main-card bouts went to a decision on Saturday’s FS1-televised lineup at Qudos Bank Arena.

Former UFC heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum (23-7-1 MMA, 11-4 UFC) even went all five rounds in the main event, dominating Marcin Tybura (16-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) to a unanimous decision to strengthen his argument for another shot at the title he lost in May 2016.

Prior to the headliner, Jessica-Rose Clark (8-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Belal Muhammad (13-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Jake Matthews (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) edged their respective opponents by split decision, while Elias Theodorou (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Alex Volkanovski (16-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) earned unanimous nods on the scorecards.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 121’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Alex Volkanovski

Jeremy Kennedy

Should fight: Jeremy Kennedy
Why they should fight: Volkanovski continued to thrive since joining the UFC roster when he improved to 3-0 under inside the octagon with an utterly dominant performance against short-notice promotional newcomer Shane Young.

Volkanovski had his way with Young en route to a unanimous decision victory and now has won 16 of his 17 career fights. The Australian could be major problem in the featherweight division, but he needs tougher opponents in order to prove exactly where he stands among the best.

Once upon a time, before multiple injury changes, Volkanovski was scheduled to fight Kennedy (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) at the event. The Canadian was forced to withdraw due to a back injury, but if his recovery is on track for a return early next year, it would be interesting to see how the unbeaten fighter approached Volkanovski, who has been a tough riddle to solve.

Elias Theodorou

Anthony Smith

Should fight: Anthony Smith
Why they should fight: “Ultimate Fighter: Nations” winner Theodorou picked up a unanimous decision win over fellow cast member Dan Kelly, much to the dismay of the Australian crowd.

Every time Theodorou has experienced a setback he’s rebounded with a win, and following a defeat to Brad Tavares in July, he did that again by outpointing Kelly over the course of three rounds of middleweight action.

There’s definitely something to be desired with Theodorou’s style visually, but on paper it’s proven effective. He’s won six of eight UFC fights so far and has some notable wins to his credit within that record. The Canadian will surely want to keep the balling rolling, and there’s no shortage of tough competition at 185 pounds.

Theodorou’s faults have come against opponents capable of out-striking him. There’s no guarantee Smith (27-13 MMA, 4-2 UFC) would be able to do that, but “Lionheart’s” height, size and strength has the potential to give Theodorou all sorts of problems.

Jake Matthews

Shinsho Anzai

Should fight: Shinsho Anzai
Why they should fight: It was a bumpy return back to the UFC welterweight division, but ultimately Matthews managed to get his hands raised with a split-decision victory over a gritty Bojan Velickovic.

After a hot start to his UFC career, Matthews has had some struggles of late. He hoped a change in weight class would bring out his best, but he just scratched by against Velickovic in a rather unimpressive manner. The upside for the Aussie, though, is the fact he’s still young at just 23.

Matthews has been given few easy fights to this point, and that’s unlikely to change going forward. Anzai (10-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is a tough and durable opponent who has back-to-back wins on his UFC record. The Japanese fighter is on approximately the same level of Matthews in the division, so there’s no reason not to pit them against each other.

Belal Muhammad

Warlley Alves

Should fight: Warlley Alves
Why they should fight: Muhammad picked up the biggest victory of her career when he outworked and edged UFC veteran Tim Means by split decision in the card’s featured bout.

Muhammad has shown some solid skills each time he’s stepped in the octagon. He dropped two of his first three fights with the promotion, but since has reeled off three-straight, with the win over Means being the most meaningful yet.

The only thing holding Muhammad back at this point is his low rate of stoppage victories. He need a big finish to take things to the next level, and a fight with an ulna-aggressive, powerful foe like Alves (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) would give him every opportunity to make that happen.

Jessica-Rose Clark

Joanne Calderwood

Should fight: Joanne Calderwood
Why they should fight: After making her UFC debut on just 11 days’ notice against a veteran of the octagon, Clark now finds herself with a winning record inside the octagon and high aspirations for the future in the women’s flyweight division.

Clark may have missed weight, but still picked up a split-decision win over Bec Rawlings to announce her arrival in the UFC. The circumstances were far from ideal, but Clark made the most of them and already has big aspirations for her future, such as fighting for the title.

The women’s 125-pound division is still in its infancy in the UFC. Clark has intentions of being a significant part of the weight class, but will have to see how “The Ultimate Fighter 26” tournament, which will crown the inaugural champion, shakes out.

In the meantime, Clark should look to fight an opponent who is not part of “TUF 26.” Calderwood (11-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) was originally supposed to face Rawlings at the event but was forced to withdraw on short notice. Clark filled in for her, now she should fight against her.

Fabricio Werdum

Should fight: Alexander Volkov
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Werdum should fight Volkov (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC) next.

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 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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Belal Muhammad calls out Colby Covington, threatens hospital visit if they run into each other

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Belal Muhammad had a stiff test and a close fight when he met Tim Means at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney, Australia, but after getting the split-decision victory, Muhammad wasted no time angling for another newsworthy name in his post-fight interview.

When asked by UFC commentator Dan Hardy if he had an opponent in mind for his next bout, Muhammad was quick to mention a fellow welterweight who’d been sent home from Sydney after a much publicized run-in with headliner Fabricio Werdum earlier in the week.

“I definitely got someone in mind,” Muhammad said. “There’s a little coward I saw earlier this week by the name of Colby Covington, out here talking trash about other people’s countries,” Muhammad said. “I don’t like that, man. I’m from Chicago, dude. We’re both 170 (pounds). Meet me in the cage. Because if I see you on the street you’re going to the ICU.”

Muhammad was referring, of course, to Covington’s remarks about Brazil both before and after his fight with Demian Maia in Sao Paulo. It seems that calling the residents “filthy animals” not only infuriated Brazilians like Werdum, who attacked Covington with a boomerang earlier in the week, but it also made him a target even for fellow Americans like Muhammad.

And because he apparently values specificity in his threats, Muhammad made sure to even name the wing of the hospital (the intensive care unit) where he plans to send Covington if they encounter one another outside the cage.

Of course, it’d probably be more profitable and less legally sticky if they confined their action to the cage, especially since Covington seems like he might be feeling a tad litigious just now.

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: Belal Muhammad takes split from Tim Means, calls out Colby Covington

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In a razor-close fight, Belal Muhammad took a split decision from Tim Means for arguably the biggest win of his career. Then he called out MMA’s newest villain, Colby Covington.

Muhammad (13-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) took a pair of 29-28 scores, while Means (27-9-1 MMA, 9-6 UFC) got a dissenting 29-28 of his own. In his post-fight interview, Muhammad said he wants a fight with Covington based on Covington’s recent disparagement of Brazil and Brazilians. (Muhammad was born in Chicago and is of Palestinian descent.)

The welterweight bout was part of the main card 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.

Muhammad went to the center and kicked right away. But Means fired back with punches and landed a stiff left. He pushed Muhammad to the outside. Muhammad landed an inside leg kick, then a right hand. A minute in, Muhammad came forward and landed again. A means straight left was on the mark, but Muhammad got inside for a right hook about two minutes in. Muhammad went to the body with a right, then cracked Means with a left hand.

With two minutes left, Muhammad drilled Means with a right hand. Means kept pushing forward, though, trying to use his size and reach advantage to the utmost. But again, Muhammad smacked him with a right. With 30 seconds left, Muhammad drove in for a takedown, but bailed on it. He just missed a spinning back fist before time ran out.

Muhammad landed a left, then overhand right early in the second. Forty-five seconds into the round, Muhammad went after a taekdown and got it. He had to fend off a Means choke attempt, but did so easily and had top position for a moment on the canvas before moving back to his feet and letting Means up. Means fired his right jab out repeatedly and tried some teeps for good measure. But Muhammad’s left jab was working, too.

Muhammad landed a front kick, but had his head popped back by a Means left. Muhammad slipped with two minutes left, but Means couldn’t take advantage and Muhammad was right back up. Means kicked high with a minute left, but Muhammad blocked it. Not long after, Muhammad tried a takedown, but couldn’t get it. Muhammad had a sizable mouse under his left eye, but the fight was extremely close in the striking department.

A low leg kick from Means spun Muhammad around on his feet. Means tried to kick up high, but it wasn’t there. Muhammad tried a head kick of his own 90 seconds in. Means tried a takedown, but Muhammad stuffed it, showing that each fighter was desperate for something that might put them over the edge with the judges in a razor-close fight. A Muhammad head kick was just barely off the mark, and he tried a takedown on top of it. But Means stayed upright and they reset with 1:45 left.

Muhammad popped off a 1-2, then shied away from a spinning kick from Means. With a minute left, Muhammad moved away from a Means right, then landed his own combination. Muhammad cracked Means with a right late in the fight, then stayed away from a Means kick and left the judges with a tough call to make.

Muhammad ran his streak to three and has won four of his past five fights. Means heads back to the loss column after a June win over Alex Garcia. He has dropped two of his past three.

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.)

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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
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Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 115-71
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Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 115-71
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Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 110-76
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George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 109-77
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John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 108-78
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Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 106-80
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Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 106-80
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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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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

Belal Muhammad comfortable in UFC, ready to announce himself as true contender

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SYDNEY – Belal Muhammad wants you to start taking his nickname literally.

“Remember the Name” is how the 29-year-old Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) gets introduced when he fights, and that’s precisely what he hopes you’ll start doing after his welterweight fight against Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 121.

“The welterweight division is one of the top divisions right now and it’s bringing a lot of attention,” Muhammad told MMAjunkie this week in Sydney. “You’ve got all of them talking about different guys right now and I just want to add another name to that mix where you’re like, ‘Goddamn, we’ve got another one, too.’”

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. The Muhammad-Means fight is part of the main card.

The expectation is that Muhammad’s fight with Means should be a barnburner – the kind of scrap that gets each guy an extra $50,000 for “Fight of the Night.” But it’s not the fight that was supposed to happen this weekend.

Muhammad was booked to fight recent “Ultimate Fighter” winner Jesse Taylor on the card, but Taylor popped for a potential USADA doping violation and was yanked from the fight. A month ago, Muhammad got his replacement: Means.

And that replacement was one he welcomed.

“We usually train everything, anyway, no matter what – I’m always training to fight the best guy,” Muhammad said. “Against Jesse Taylor, he wasn’t going to be able to take me down. He’s just a big wrestler, so I wasn’t really worried about it. That was an easier fight for me. I was happy with that fight. So when I got Tim Means, it’s a size difference. That’s the only thing I’m worried about. I went from a shorter guy to a taller guy. That’s the only thing I’m really thinking about. I wasn’t really worried about his grappling or his striking because I’m good everywhere. I can strike with anybody and I can grapple with anybody.

“… He’s definitely a fun fighter. I always watched him. I liked watching him when he was coming up – he always brings a fight.”

And if Means indeed brings it, as more than a 2-1 favorite, and Muhammad can pull off an upset for his third straight win, that “Remember the Name” thing is going to start to become all the more natural for people.

Muhammad has either been favored or just a mild underdog in all his UFC fights so far. Seeing Means around -250 as the favorite and Muhammad at +170 as the ‘dog is new territory. But the more he fights, the easier that walk becomes, and the more confidence he brings to a fight against someone as established as Means.

“I’m just getting more comfortable in there,” he said. “I’m feeling more at home now in the UFC cage and getting more acclimated to everything. I just feel like I belong now. Before, you’d be like, ‘I’m in the UFC,’ and you think about it and you’re scared about it. But now, it’s just another day in the office.”

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

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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