Finally, the Australian MMA ‘season’ is about to get underway. And what better way to kick it off than with the UFC Down Under featuring our very own world champion Rob Whittaker.
On paper, the card looks average. There’s often criticism that we get short-changed over here with regards to depth of talent. I personally disagree with those thoughts. As a purist and a huge fan of ANZAC MMA, these cards are always an awesome showcase of local talent. We get to celebrate the arrival of the biggest domestic stars on the international scene. And for the ANZACs themselves, they get a chance to compete on the world stage without having to travel across the globe. Once they’ve proven themselves on the Aussie shows with a couple of wins, then the USA and beyond awaits. Take Alex Volkanovski. A couple of fights on home soil, a couple of good wins and then the world was his oyster – a formula vindicated by his last (epic) win over Chad Mendes in LA during the Christmas period.
My point is, if the cards were filled with global superstars, where would our boys and girls get their shot? We shouldn’t be clamouring for marquee fights at the expense of our own hard-working fighters who’ve given so much in chasing their dreams.
In the main event, UFC 234 has a world title fight sure not to disappoint. Challenger Kelvin Gastelum has big power and comes to throw down, while “Bobby Knuckles” is a proven entertainer; perhaps no more so than in his most recent fights. In the co-main, we have “The Last Stylebender” vs. the man many still consider the GOAT. No, not Artem Lobov. The one and only, Anderson Silva. Obviously, at 43 years old Anderson is well past his prime, but I certainly don’t think he is to be slept on. It’s always a pleasure to watch Israel Adesanya fight. He’s smooth in every sense of the word; smooth, but deadly and efficient. Jim Crute will welcome the ever-charismatic Sam Alvey Down Under the only way he knows how: with pace and power. He has all the skills but prefers the all-action style that I’m sure “Smile’N” Sam will embrace.
Then on the undercard we get to see if Kai Kara-France can put on a similarly polished display as his UFC debut. His Kiwi teammate Shane Young will embrace Maori culture and fighting spirit. We also have Aussies Callan Potter, the people’s champ getting his long overdue call-up, and 5-0 Nadia Kassem, who will have her submission defence tested by Montana De La Rosa.
Let’s celebrate this card for the platform it gives these homegrown stars. Let them make a name for themselves under the bright lights and in front of the big crowds of the world’s premier MMA promotion.
The EMG Blog is a space for colourful takes on the weird and wonderful world of MMA. The views and opinions expressed within are solely those of the individual contributors and not EMG.