It's now less than one week to go until the world's leading name in mixed martial comes down to the sporting capital of the world.
That's right, UFC 193 is just a few days away, and while we wait for one of Melbourne's biggest events to take place, I'm going to break down the main card fights.
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Holly Holm
"Rowdy" Ronda Rousey is arguably the most talk about athlete in the world right now. The reigning bantamweight champion will be defending her title, for an incredible 8th time, against former decorated boxer Holly Holm. Some questioned the decision to book Holm a title fight instead of in form Miesha Tate, who voiced her disappointment at being rejected for a third crack at the champion.
Rousey, who made her name with her judo abilities, continues to evolve with her stand up game as seen in her last fight with Bethe Correira. It seems her latest strength is her unpredictability as to how she wants to finish her next opponent.
Holm on the other hand, a talented stand up fighter, can control a fight from a distance and defend take downs superbly, making it hard to grapple with her. Whether or not she will be able to ward off an oncoming Rousey for more than a round is yet to be seen. It's a clash of two very contrasting styles, sure to be an interesting one to watch. I can't see the champion losing, but it would sure as hell be stunning if Holm wins.
Prediction: Rousey by submission, round 2
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (C) vs Valérie Létourneu
Joanna has stopped her last two opponents by TKO, and they've both been impressive showings by the Polish champion. Joanna is one of the more gifted strikers I've seen in the competition, and looks to be on another level compared to the rest of the strawweight division. How Valerie managed to receive this title shot is beyond me, I was expecting Claudia Gadelha to get a rematch, but it is what it is.
Long story short, I believe Joanna has this one in the bag by TKO, or KO if she can manage. Her technique and speed is unmatched, even by some of the male fighters in the UFC. Her Gollum-like demeanour just makes her so much more entertaining to watch, and I reckon this throws her opponents off. I can't say I know much about Letourneau, but considering she is ranked 8th in the division I think she's way out of her depth here.
Prediction: Jedrzejczyk by TKO, round 3
Mark Hunt vs Antonio Silva
I always love a good rematch, and this is sure to be a finish. Two juggernauts with huge knockout power, both will be looking to this fight as quite possilby their last chance to compete with the UFC's heavyweight elite. Hunt is coming off a brutal loss to Stipe Miocic, while "Bigfoot" Silva found some of his old punching power in a TKO win over Soa Palelei.
In the lead up to the fight, Hunt has worked heavily on his fitness and health, and quite frankly looks in fighting condition. Their first fight in Brisbane was considered a fight for the ages, a bloody three round war that ended in a tie. Bigfoot eventually tested for high testosterone levels, leaving fans to wonder how the fight would have gone if he'd have fought without.
Personally, I think Bigfoot is on a decline and he doesn't have much left in him at all, and the way Hunt has been training he is serious about making a charge towards the top one more time. Hunt's only weakness in his last couple of fights has been his fitness, I can't help but think that his ability to fight has changed much. With his improved diet and training, I've gotta go with the Aussie on this one. He seems determined to make a statement.
Prediction: Hunt by KO, round 2
Robert Whittaker vs Uriah Hall
Stefan Struve vs Jared Rosholt
We have a giant down under! Stefan Struve hasn't been able to properly impose himself on this division due to a heart condition that kept him from fighting for nearly two years. He's fought some of the division's best, such as Mark Hunt, Junior dos Santos and Stipe Miocic, but only scoring a win against Miocic in 2012. The rest of his wins have shown his well rounded skills, finishing 8 of his 10 UFC victories. Struve is moving forward mentally and focusing on really finding his peak form.
“I had a lot of issues the last couple years that kept me in Holland. I was already looking for training in the States, but a lot of things kept me from going there. And now that I’ve finally made the move, it took a lot of people to bring me here ... I couldn’t be happier, not just in the gym, but in life as well." - Stefan Stuve (uk.ufc.com 2015)
Unfortunately, I can't say I know much about his opponent, Jared Rosholt. All I know is that he has not faced a top 15 fighter in his UFC career. For Rosholt to surprise the world and beat the number 14 ranked Struve can only do good things for his career. Despite this, I've gotta vote Struve. Wrestling a 7 foot giant is no easy feat, so I feel like Struve will be able to control the fight from a distance.
Prediction: Struve by decision (or if he's in good shape, TKO in round 3)