UFC Fight Night 121 - The Main Card Breakdown
Date: Sunday 19th November, 3am (UK)
Location: Sydney, Australia
Venue: Qudos Bank Arena
Fabrício Werdum vs Marcin Tybura
Marcin Tybura was originally scheduled to share the main event slot with the New Zealander, Mark Hunt. However, after Hunt disclosed concerns over brain damage he may have received over the years in a recent interview, the UFC decided to pull him from the fight for his own safety. Much to the disappointment of the antipodean fans and in particular, Hunt himself.
The card has been saved thanks to the Brazilian legend, Fabrício Werdum, who only fought last month. He poses a completely different threat for Tybura who would have been preparing for a stand-up war with Hunt. Werdum is also a dangerous striker but if the fight goes to the ground - it’s game over. The world champion Jiu-Jitsu expert is simply on a different level to any heavyweight in the world so Tybura will be looking to keep the fight standing at all costs.
See below for the statistical breakdown, with the takedown defence of Tybura and takedown accuracy of Werdum highlighted as the key stat. Don’t be surprised if Werdum looks to make a statement and finish the Polish native on the feet but his trump card is impossible to ignore.
This card suffered another dropout when Joanne Calderwood pulled out of this highly anticipated bout. However, this has given a dream opportunity for fellow Australian Jessy Rose-Clark to fight for the UFC.
The Invicta flyweight took this fight without any hesitation and knows it will be the biggest win of her career if she pulls it off. Rawlings has improved since emerging on the UFC scene as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter series but has suffered against the top-level competition in the strawweight division and is desperate for a win.
The key stat highlighted in our statistical breakdown is the form of Rawlings, as a third straight loss to a UFC debutant and late replacement could be terminal to her UFC career so she will be feeling the pressure, especially fighting in front of her home fans.
Jesse Taylor was the first of many to drop out of this card, and in this case it was for being flagged by USADA for a potential doping violation. So, Tim ‘The Dirty Bird’ Means fills the void to take on Belal ‘Remember The Name’ Muhammad in Sydney.
The Dirty Bird gets the nod in the experience department as well as the nickname department but Muhammad is coming off two fantastic wins over Randy Brown and Jordan Mein. Means will be another impressive name on his record but the veteran is an elite striker and will be Muhammad’s toughest fight so far
The key stat highlighted in our statistical breakdown is the reach advantage of Means. This is particularly significant as his range is a crucial part of his strengths, allowing him to inflict damage from distance and avoid takedowns. Muhammad is a decent striker himself but may look to initiate the clinch as he struggles to land on the feet.
Dan Kelly, the man from Melbourne, hopes to bounce back from his brutal knockout loss in front of his home fans. That loss courtesy of Derek Brunson broke an impressive four-fight win streak and he now faces another tough fighter looking to bounce back from a defeat.
Elias Theodorou lost a decision to Brad Tavares in what was only his second career loss. The Canadian is a very well-rounded and cerebral fighter who will relish the challenge of fighting somebody with the unique skillset of Kelly. The Aussie is an Olympic-level Judoka complimented by a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so clearly wants to get his hands on Theodorou but he will have to be careful of his opponent’s deceptive power.
This fight could be decided in the grappling exchanges but every fight starts at a distance and the significant reach advantage could be crucial for Theodorou maintaining it. See below for our statistical breakdown:
Jake Matthews makes the short trip from Melbourne and will have virtually the whole crowd behind him when he takes on Bojan Veličković. He will be grateful for the support as he hasn’t fought in a year with the added pressure of having lost his last two fights.
Since joining the UFC after his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Matthews has had all of his fights at lightweight and has suffered his only three losses in his last five fights. Looking to regain some form and avoid the gruelling weight cut he has decided to move back up to welterweight.
For his welterweight debut in the UFC he has been handed a stern test in the form of a former middleweight. The Serbian is an excellent grappler with a background of Sambo, Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is eager to show these skills off and earn his first submission win in the UFC. Easier said than done as Matthews is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
These fighters are as evenly matched as they are well-rounded but the key stat we have highlighted in the statistical breakdown is the weight as Matthews is unbeaten as a welterweight.
This fight has been hit the hardest by numerous drop-outs leading up to the Sydney main card where five fighters have pulled out. It seems nobody wants to fight Alexander Volkanovski as Jeremy Kennedy pulled out of the original bout and his replacement, Humberto Bandenay also withdrew, leaving a vacancy only six days out.
This has given New Zealander Shane Young an opportunity to fight for the UFC and he deserves a huge amount of credit to take the fight against one of the hottest featherweight prospects on barely a week’s notice.
Volkanovski looks the real deal, finishing 12 of his 15 wins, and he will be grateful a challenger has stepped up to fight him. Young is a prospect in his own right at the age of just 24 and is also a natural finisher but this is a giant leap in competition from smaller fighting promotions.
The key stat highlighted is the form of Volkanovski which included two impressive UFC wins. Young will be the heavy underdog but this will play into his hands as although he is dangerous, he is not expected to win – more risk than reward for Volkanovski.