10 reasons to watch UFC-Sydney, none of which include hotel drama

The UFC is in Australia on Saturday for UFC Fight Night 121. Headlining the event is a heavyweight scrap between former champion Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura.Werdum steps into the octagon having fought 42 days ago at UFC 216. He defeated Walt Harris via first-round submission on that card. Werdum got the nod for the Australia card after the UFC pulled Tyburas original opponent, Mark Hunt, from the event over medical concerns. Tyburas most recent fight was in June. He earned a decision over former champion Andrei Arlovski in that contest. Theres no doubt two consecutive wins over former champs would boost his status in the division.In the co-main event, two Australian fighters meet when Bec Rawlings welcomes UFC newcomer Jessica-Rose Clark to the octagon.
UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. The race is on

With heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic unbooked for his next title defense, the rest of the division is left to jockey for position to be that next opponent. That includes the man Miocic took the title from, Werdum.Werdum, currently, ranked No. 3 in the division according to the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, has his work cut out for him in that regard since hes gone 2-1 since his loss to Miocic. Knowing that, Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) seems to be taking the volume route back to title consideration. He faces Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in Sydney a few weeks removed from his recent win over Harris.

Tybura, the man who hopes to play spoiler to Werdums plan, is currently an honorable mention in the rankings.

2. Moving on up

Rawlings is under pressure heading into her first flyweight bout. Shes 2-3 since she joined the UFC, with losses in her past two outings. Rawlings was also one-and-a-half pounds overweight ahead of her most recent fight, a decision loss to Tecia Torres.Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) opponent, Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), steps in as a late injury replacement for Joanne Calderwood.
While Clark might be an unknown quantity, dont expect her to wilt under the bright lights of the UFC. In her two most recent fights, she faced former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman and veteran Carina Damm. She lost to Kaufman and defeated Damm; both fights went the distance.
Clark mostly throws power punches and heavy low kicks with an occasional combination. She struggles if the fight hits the ground and she ends up in bottom position. Expect her to try and keep this one standing.

3. The repairs are complete

Its no surprise to see Australia-born Jake Matthews on this card. The 23-year-old has fought seven times for the UFC. Six of those outings took place in his home country or in nearby New Zealand. However, Matthews enters this fight on a two-fight losing skid. His most recent defeat was a November 2016 split-decision loss to Andrew Holbrook.Healed up after undergoing surgery on both hips, Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) moves back to welterweight, where he began his MMA career, for this fight against Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC). Like Matthews, the Serbian is coming off a loss. He dropped a unanimous decision to Darren Till in his most recent bout.
Early in his career, it seemed the UFC had Matthews pegged as a promotable fighter for its Australian market. His losing skid seems to have dampened that enthusiasm, as he dropped from the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 101 to the middle of the main card in Sydney.
If the added weight and repaired hips get Matthews back in the win column, expect the promotions interest in him to revive.

4. Work with what youve got

Daniel Kelly doesnt have the chiseled body of many UFC fighters. The 40-year-old Australians knees appear to be held together by braces and tape. Hes been an underdog in almost all of his UFC fights.Despite these apparent shortcomings, Kelly went unbeaten between November 2015 and March 2017. His most prominent win was a unanimous-decision victory over former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans at UFC 209. Kellys feel-good story then ended in June, when Derek Brunson knocked him out.Kellys opponent, Elias Theodorou, is also coming off a loss. The 29-year-old Canadian dropped a decision to Brad Tavares in July.
Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is a four-time Olympian in judo, so expect him to try to work from the clinch against his younger opponent. As for Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), hes one of the more cerebral fighters at middleweight. He crafts a gameplan specific to his opponents, and he generally sticks with that approach.

5. High expectations

Alex Volkanovski could become the next big thing out of Australia. He joined the UFC in 2016 with a record of 13-1 and a long list of titles from smaller MMA promotions. Now 2-0 with the UFC, he faces Shane Young at featherweight.
Volkanovski is a powerful striker with good takedown skills, but he excels on the ground. When he gets his opponent to the mat, the Australian likes to posture up and rain down heavy ground strikes. Those ground strikes earned him a second-round TKO in his UFC debut.Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is the third scheduled opponent for Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) for this card. The New Zealand-born fighters two previously booked opponents withdrew due to injury. Young, who is on a five-fight winning streak, stepped up on less than a weeks notice to take this fight.

6. Looking for a foothold

Ryan Benoit has struggled since joining the UFCs flyweight division in 2013. Hes alternated wins and losses and been unable to generate any momentum, even with a knockout of Sergio Pettis in 2015. His most recent fight was a split-decision loss to Brandon Moreno.Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) faces Ashkan Mokhtarian in Sydney. Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) debuted with the UFC in June. He entered that fight against John Moraga with 12 career stoppage victories. The Iranian-born fighter left that matchup with his second career loss.
Like Mokhtarian, when Benoit does win, its usually via stoppage. He has seven knockouts and one submission in his eight victories. With their recent losses, expect both of these men to do their best to avoid a second consecutive defeat.

7. Back meet wall

Will Brooks joined the UFCs lightweight division with a lot of hype. Before he signed with the promotion, the former Bellator champion ran off eight straight wins. He won his UFC debut, but Brooks has since been stopped in his two most recent bouts by unranked fighters.
To date, Brooks performances with the UFC have been uninspired. That could change when he faces Nik Lentz, who is also coming off a loss. If you recall, the UFC pulled Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC) from his scheduled fight against Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) at UFC 216 due to medical issues on weigh-in day. Brooks had already made weight for the lightweight bout before the promotion scratched the contest. No fighter wants to go through camp and a weight cut only to do the same thing a month later.

8. Lets try this in a different hemisphere

Anthony Hamilton and Adam Wieczorek were set to face off at UFC Fight Night 118. However, the heavyweight bout was scratched the day before the event due to security concerns inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The UFC made that decision after both fighters made weight at the official weigh-ins. The two now meet more than 9,750 miles away in Sydney.Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who makes his UFC debut on this card, is on a seven-fight winning streak. Each of his victories have come by way of stoppage. Wieczoreks sole loss was a 2011 decision defeat to Tybura. Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) briefly toyed with retirement after his most recent fight, his third consecutive first-round stoppage defeat.

9. In a hurry

Nadia Kassem has just four fights to her name. Kassem, who recently turned 22, won each of those bouts by first round knockout. Three of those stoppages came in under 30 seconds. Nicknamed 187, Kassems longest outing was her most recent, when she nearly hit the 90-second mark. Her total fight time is 2:22.Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets fellow Aussie Alex Chambers in this strawweight contest. The 39-year-old Chambers (5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has not fought since Paige VanZant submitted her in September 2015. Her opponent has fought three times since then.
Expect Kassem to come out fast and test Chambers cage readiness after such a long time away.

10. KO kings

Expect action in the heavyweight opener. Neither Rashad Coulter nor his opponent Tai Tuivasa have ever gone the distance. All eight of Coulters (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) wins have come by knockout, while Tuivasa (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has five first-round KO victories in five professional fights.
The 24-year-old Tuivasa, who makes his UFC debut in his home country, is a former rugby player. He left that sport five years ago to focus on boxing and MMA. Hes a training partner of Mark Hunt, who he cornered at UFC 209. His brother-in-law is UFC competitor Tyson Pedro.Tuivasa has been sidelined for more than a year. He underwent knee surgery following his October 2016 win over former UFC fighter James McSweeney. Coulters most recent fight, his UFC debut, ended in a second-round knockout loss to Chase Sherman. Coulter displayed an incredibly durable chin in that Fight of the Night bonus-winning performance.
For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.













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