The majority of the UFC’s top heavyweight talent doesn’t come all that close to hitting the maximum allowable weight limit for the division. For instance, champion Stipe Miocic checked in at 246 pounds for his latest title defense, which came against former champ Junior Dos Santos, who tipped the scales at 245.
These are big dudes who do big-dude damage when they step into the octagon.
Combined, Lewis and Hunt have gone the distance three times in their UFC careers, so it’s probably safe to assume only one of these two behemoths is going to be standing at the conclusion of this fight.
UFC Fight Night 110 takes place at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.
1. A beastly streak
Since losing to Shawn Jordan in June 2015, Lewis has won six straight fights, which gives him the longest active winning streak in the UFC’s heavyweight division. That streak, and the fact that five of those wins have come via knockout, have Lewis ranked No. 7 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings. At UFC Fight Night 110, he faces No. 11 Hunt (12-11-1 MMA, 7-5-1 UFC), who has put together a 2-1 record with one no-contest during Lewis’ (18-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) winning streak.
This is a fight that could put Lewis in line for a title shot. With the future of former champion Cain Velasquez still up in the air, the division needs a marketable opponent for Miocic’s next title fight, and Lewis fits the bill. As for Hunt, despite his ongoing legal battles with the UFC and company president Dana White, he remains a fan favorite, and a win in his home country would be huge for Hunt and the UFC’s future in the New Zealand/Australia market.
2. Finding the right balance
Kelly, the man seemingly held together with reinforced box tape, is in the midst of a four-fight winning streak, which includes a split-decision victory over former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans. At UFC Fight Night 110, Kelly (13-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC), an honorable mention in the middleweight rankings, tries to break into the top 15 when he faces No. 12 Brunson (16-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC).
Meanwhile, Brunson looks to avoid the first three-fight skid of his career. Brunson needs to find a balance between the ultra-aggressive style that cost him in a TKO loss against Robert Whittaker and the more passive game plan he used while dropping a close decision to Anderson Silva.
3. A former ‘TUF’ winner feels the heat
Dan Hooker did his best to keep his most recent opponent, Jason Knight, at distance. But Knight had none of that and pushed forward and left Hooker (13-7 MMA, 3-3 UFC) unable to mount any sustained offense. Hooker, who lost to Knight via decision, could have better luck when he moves up to lightweight to fight Ross Pearson (19-13 MMA, 11-10 UFC), who likes to be the aggressor in his fights, albeit at a more controlled pace than Knight.
The stakes are high for Pearson, and that could change the way he approaches the bout. He’s 1-4 in his last five fights and could be fighting for his UFC spot against Hooker, who has alternated wins and losses since joining the UFC in 2014.
4. Short notice, big fight
Tim Elliott washed out of the UFC in 2015 after going 2-4. Shortly after his release, he won the Titan FC flyweight title and defended it twice. Elliott then joined Season 24 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” winning that competition to earn a shot at flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
Elliott took Johnson five rounds, dropping a unanimous decision. He followed that loss with a “Fight of the Night” decision victory over Louis Smolka in April. Despite earning a $50,000 bonus, Elliott was disappointed with his performance.
Now ranked No. 15 in the division, Elliott (14-7-1 MMA, 3-5 UFC) steps in on short notice to face Ben Nguyen, an honorable mention in the rankings. Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 3-1 UFC) was originally booked to face No. 2 Joseph Benavidez before an injury knocked the formr title challenger from the event. Nguyen is coming off a decision win over Geane Herrera.
5. Looking for a repeat performance
There was a lot to like about Alexander Volkanovski’s UFC debut. He displayed good clinch work and strong takedowns, but where he stood out was his striking, especially on the ground. Volkanovski earned a second-round TKO win over Yusuke Kasuya in November thanks to those strikes.
It was his sixth straight stoppage and 11th consecutive victory. At UFC Fight Night 110, Volkanovski (14-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) gets to test himself against a fighter with a similar style in former DEEP lightweight champion Mizuto Hirota (18-7-2 MMA, 1-2-1 UFC), who is coming off a win over Cole Miller.
6. Been a long, long time
Vinc Pichel’s last fight was so long ago, his last two opponents are no longer with the UFC.
In his first fight since May 2014, Pichel faces Damien Brown at lightweight. Injuries inside and outside the cage have kept Pichel (9-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) on the shelf. Before his prolonged absence, he was on a two-fight winning streak. Brown (17-9 MMA, 2-1 UFC), who did not debut with the UFC until March 2016, is 2-1 with the promotion and most recently earned a split-decision win over Jon Tuck.
7. Staying alive
In 2013, John Moraga, then ranked in the top five in the flyweight division, fought champion Johnson, who won by submission in the fifth round. Since then, Moraga has gone 3-4, losing his last three fights by decision. Currently ranked No. 12, Moraga is likely more worried about getting back in the win column than he is about his rankings.
Moraga (16-6 MMA, 5-5 UFC) welcomes Ashkan Mokhtarian to the UFC. Mokhtarian (13-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) enters the UFC with 12 finishes in his 13 victories.
8. Tough test in debut
Luke Jumeau’s last two losses came back in 2013 to Li Jingliang and Jake Matthews before they each made the jump to the UFC. Since those submission defeats, Jumeau has run off six straight wins, most recently earning a TKO over former UFC fighter Vik Grujic.
Jumeau spent most of the first round of the Grujic matchup fighting off a rear-naked choke. He ended the contest in the second round after a left to the back of Grujic’s head ended the fight in a somewhat controversial TKO stoppage.
Jumeau has his work cut out for him in his UFC debut, where he meets Dominque Steele. Jumeau (12-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) tends to fight flatfooted while throwing single strikes. Grujic also easily took him to the mat. This welterweight bout could allow Steele (14-8 MMA, 1-3 UFC) to continue to work on his developing striking while going back to his wrestling base if he finds trouble on the feet. Steele is on a two-fight losing skid, most recently dropping a decision to Court McGee.
9. You’re the next contestant
Chan-Mi Jeon is the latest entrant in the when-the-UFC-calls-you-say-yes sweepstakes, agreeing to face strawweight J.J. Aldrich on short notice. The 19-year-old Jeon has very limited MMA experience against opponents you’ve heard of, with the exception being her recent win over 44-year-old Megumi Yabushita, whom she defeated in September.
Against her overmatched competition, Jeon (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has looked good, racking up four knockout victories. But does she have a chance to upset Aldrich (4-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC)? Sure, but the more likely outcome is that Jeon will learn what she needs to work on to compete in the UFC.
Aldrich enters the fight coming off a decision loss to Juliana Lima.
10. Short notice, bright prospects
If you were paying attention, you’d know that up until May 31, only 10 fights were announced for UFC Fight Night 110. The number increased to 12 that day, when a main-card bout between light heavyweights Ion Cutelaba (12-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) and Henrique da Silva (12-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and a lightweight prelim matchup of Dong Hyun Kim (14-8 MMA, 1-2 UFC) vs. Thibault Gouti (11-3 MMA, 0-3 UFC) were added to the card.
Despite some late shuffling to get the card finalized and announced, UFC Fight Night 110 could have a major impact on the organization’s future plans in Australia and New Zealand, where UFC executives are bullish on the market.
If the crowd and the local fighters deliver at UFC Fight Night 110, expect the organization to return Oceania a little more often.