The octagon travels just shy of ten-thousand miles from Norfolk to Sydney, Australia for UFC Fight Night 121, headlined by former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum taking on Polish contender Marcin Tybura.
Brazil’s Werdum unified the heavyweight title over two years ago, defeating Cain Velasquez after capturing the interim title with a victory over Mark Hunt. Stipe Miocic ended the Brazilian’s short reign as heavyweight king eleven months later and Werdum will be looking to reaffirm his position in the division.
Victories over Travis Browne and Walt Harris are sandwiched either side of a loss to Alistair Overeem and with the former champion turning forty, time appears to be running out for another shot at the heavyweight throne.
Marcin Tybura has won three consecutive bouts to seal his first headline slot in the octagon. The former M-1 heavyweight champion lost his UFC debut to Timothy Johnson in April last year before wins over Viktor Pesta, Luis Henrique and Andrei Arlovski lined him up for a shot at perennial heavyweight contender Mark Hunt.
Hunt was pulled from the card after stating he was struggling to remember things, forcing the UFC to withdraw the New Zealander from the card in neighbouring Australia. Tybura was upgraded from fighting #5 in the division to #2, with the winner firmly putting themselves in title contention.
Werdum holds the experience advantage with this being his fifteenth bout in the octagon, whilst Tybura will look to announce himself as the next Polish UFC champion following Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s dethroning at UFC 217.
The card isn’t particularly stacked, so let’s look at three fights that may sneak under the radar in Sydney.
Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem
It’s the first of two all-Australian female fights with thirty-nine-year-old Alex Chambers looking to improve on her 1-2 record. She has won all four of her fights in Australia and her fights have never gone to the judges’ scorecards.
Her opponent, Nadia Kassem has won all four of her bouts inside the opening ninety seconds. All of those victories have come by way of knockout, however this is her octagon debut and she has yet to face a fighter with a single win on their record. Kassem also weighed in over the strawweight limit and will forfeit 30% of her purse.
Kassem is seventeen years younger than Chambers and at just twenty-two could become a star in the sport. Chambers experience and jiu-jitsu may be enough to edge her past the youngster, despite her three-inch reach disadvantage.
Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa
Who needs the judges?! Both Rashad Coulter and Tai Tuivasa have never heard a decision victory read out, with both possessing 100% knockout ratios.
Tuivasa makes his octagon debut after winning and defending the Australian FC heavyweight crown, defeating Brit James McSweeney in his last bout thirteen months ago. Coulter fights for the first time outside of the United States of America, looking to bounce back from his octagon debut defeat to Chase Sherman.
Fireworks will be expected early on during proceedings when these two men step into the octagon, who will prevail?
Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad
Two Americans meet a long way from home with welterweights Belal Muhammad and Tim Means featured on the main card in Sydney. The fact that only the main event has ranked fighters shows the lack of depth in this card, with Australian fight fans hoping for more when UFC 221 touches down in Perth in a February 2018.
Tim Means enters the octagon for the sixteenth time and will be hoping that a win propels him into the top fifteen at 170 pounds. The American seems to struggle when he steps up to the top table, with losses coming to Jorge Masvidal, Matt Brown, Neil Magny and Danny Castillo. A recent victory over Alex Garcia in June put Means back in the win column after his two bouts with Alex Oliveira ending in a no contest and a defeat.
Belal ‘Remember the Name’ Muhammad turned his UFC record into a positive one after defeating Jordan Mein at UFC 213. The former Titan FC welterweight champion joined the UFC last July and had five fights in the space of just over a year. Wins over Randy Brown and Augusto Montano redeemed losses over Alan Jouban and Vicente Luque.
Who will triumph outside of the USA?
Full Fight Card
Main Card (3AM on BT Sport 2)
Heavyweight: Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura
Flyweight: Bec Rawlings vs. Jessy Rose-Clark
Welterweight: Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad
Welterweight: Jake Matthews vs. Bojan Velickovic
Middleweight: Elias Theodorou vs. Daniel Kelly
Featherweight: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Shane Young
Prelims (1AM on BT Sport 2)
Flyweight: Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
Lightweight: Will Brooks vs. Nik Lentz
Heavyweight: Tai Tuivasa vs. Rashad Coulter
Lightweight: Damien Brown vs. Frank Camacho
Early Prelims (11:30PM on UFC Fight Pass)
Strawweight: Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem
Flyweight: Eric Shelton vs. Jenel Lausa
Heavyweight: Adam Wieczorek vs. Anthony Hamilton