Sporting a dandy of a welterweight headliner between Thiago Alves and Martin Kampmann, UFC on FX 2 marks the promotion’s third trip to Australia in the last two years.
Airing live on the FX network, the event takes place Friday from the Allphones Arena in Sydney and features a bevy of intrigue on the main card. Aside from the overtly enjoyable Alves-Kampmann pairing in the main event, the FX broadcast will also feature the semifinals of the promotion’s flyweight tournament. Fight nerds, get your popcorn ready, because Ian McCall, Demetrious Johnson, Joseph Benavidez and Yasuhiro Urushitani are going to beat up each other for a shot at a brand new title.
Though the main draw looms large, the undercard also houses a handful of matchups that figures to please the palate of those looking for a full evening on the couch. Here are five reasons to care about the UFC on FX 2 prelims:
The Man from Down Under
Say what you want about the Aussies -- Paul Hogan jokes are welcome here -- but they do love their fighting and their fighters.
Those with especially sturdy memories will recall that the last time the UFC invaded Sydney, the Australian crowd went pretty bonkers when Kyle Noke hit the runway with “Down Under” by Men at Work blasting throughout Acer Arena.
It would follow that the Aussie will receive a similar reception this time around, as he looks to right his ship after tapping to an Ed Herman heel hook in August. The loss ended Noke’s five-fight winning streak and served as the first Octagon defeat for the “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 11 veteran.
Meanwhile, undefeated American Andrew Craig will make his UFC debut as an injury replacement for Jared Hamman. The reigning Legacy Fighting Championship middleweight king, Craig has never competed outside of the United States. Now, the Texan takes the plunge into the deep waters of the UFC, entering what will surely be a hostile environment for his first Octagon foray. Think this one might be intense?
Aaron Rosa might be a late bloomer.
Previously regarded as ham-and-egg heavyweight with a wealth of toughness and a toolbox of solid skills but lacking the top-shelf athleticism to succeed at the highest level, Rosa has found success in his return to the light heavyweight division.
After a hard-fought heavyweight defeat to Joey Beltran last summer, “Big Red” made his 205-pound debut against injury replacement Matt Lucas at UFC on Fox 1, using nice clinch work and a varied attack to turn back the powerful but one-dimensional newcomer.
Currently standing in Rosa’s path is the New Zealand-born James Te Huna, a man who has no problem throwing and receiving a little leather. Already 2-1 in the UFC, with victories over Igor Pokrajac and Ricardo Romero to his credit, Te Huna looks to halt Rosa’s forward momentum as he makes his own climb. The smart money says somebody is hitting the deck inside of 15 minutes. Who is taking a step backwards?
Old Testament Style
Avenging your brother’s defeat? Now, there is a concept I can get behind.
Micah Miller entered “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 as an early favorite, but that perception was quickly changed by Steven Siler, who submitted the WEC veteran in the third round of their season qualifier.
Siler must now deal with his former foe’s older brother, Cole Miller. Two years the senior of his sibling, “Magrinho” is probably even more deadly than Micah when the fight hits the floor. The American Top Team representative has won three of his last four fights and recently rebounded from a dominant defeat at the hands of Matt Wiman to submit T.J. O’Brien in August. Can Siler go two-up on the Miller brothers, or will the Floridian avenge his brother’s loss and even the score?
Mack in ‘The Pit’
I have said it before, and I will say it again: if and when Mackens Semerzier puts it all together, he is going to tear people apart.
A gifted featherweight with skills both standing and on the floor, “Mack Da Menace” has yet to find the consistency to compliment his talent. After delivering a shocking upset of Wagnney Fabiano to begin his World Extreme Cagefighting career, Semerzier dropped three consecutive WEC bouts before the promotion was absorbed by the UFC.
Dominant in his win over Alex Caceres at UFC Fight Night 24 last year, Semerzier also put forth an excellent effort against Robert Peralta in November before that bout was ended due to an accidental head butt.
Squaring off with Semerzier will be former two-division Legacy Fighting Championship titleholder Daniel Pineda, who made an impressive UFC debut on Jan. 20, submitting Pat Schilling with a rear-naked choke in just 97 seconds.
Can Semerzier begin his journey toward high-level consistency, or will the younger Pineda extend his winning streak to seven fights?
Just 23 years old, T.J. Waldburger appears to have a bright future ahead of him.
A winner in four of his last five outings, Waldburger outpointed David Mitchell in his 2010 UFC debut but followed that win with a knockout loss to the highly regarded Johny Hendricks one year ago at UFC Fight Night 24. The jiu-jitsu ace owns 11 of his 14 career wins by submission, the most recent of which came at UFC Fight Night 25 in September, when the Texan finished Mike Stumpf with a triangle choke to earn “Submission of the Night” honors.
Meanwhile, Jake Hecht, 28, showed well-rounded skills in his December UFC debut against Rich Attonito, staggering “The Raging Bull” with elbows against the cage before sealing the deal with a storm of punches at UFC 140.
Which welterweight will prove the more promising prospect? Can Hecht stay away from the slick submission game of Waldburger to utilize his physical abilities, or will the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt pull Hecht down into grappling quicksand to earn his third UFC victory?