AUSMMA highlights from history making fight card in Sydney

Amongst the 10,000 strong crowd who witnessed an amazing fight card on a balmy spring day in Sydney, Australia, none could have been more satisfied than the team from Resilience Training Centre as their head coach, Dan Kelly, made his UFC debut. UFC Fight Night 55 did not fail to deliver where it counts, as all 11 fights ended via referee stoppage and Aussie fighters featured prominently with young guns Jake Matthews and Robert Whittaker showcasing their talents. Kelly is one fighter who is better aquatinted with the intangibles than most.

Fight Sport Asia has been priviledged to witness first hand the past 3 fights in Daniel Kelly’s remarkable MMA career and the four time Olympic Judoka always brings it in spades. His opponent Luke Zachrich was the perfect foil for his Octagon debut, allowing Kelly to settle into his bulldozing style and use his ground skills to full effect. Kelly’s heavy hands appeared to surprise his opponent and Kelly literally threw him down and handed Zachrich a submission loss via Kimura as the seconds ticked down in round one.

Kelly’s serious expression turned to pure joy post fight and he continues to go from strength to strength. He has built a impressive resume for someone who only took up MMA seriously at the age of 35 and at 37 he is still technically undefeated (Kelly was submitted by Sheldon Westcott on the TUF Nations series). Since Australian Fighting Championship 4, where he scrapped past Fabio Galeb in a 3 round war (clip below), Kelly has looked to improved his striking, which he admits is still a work in progress.

“It feels fantastic thank you, awesome…My stand up is improving, we’re working all the time.” (post fight interview with MMA Kanvas)

His hometown of Melbourne is ‘Kelly country’, where he has been one of the most popular fighters on the local scene. The only issue is the UFC is still unable to bring the cage to Melbourne, but with a critical election looming, Labor politicans and UFC brass have promised to deliver a UFC event that will likely be stadium event, similar to UFC 129.

If there is any doubt about the lunacy of the cage ban, watch Kelly, Galeb and the referee all go over the ropes.

Another star Jake Matthews (8-0) is one of the youngest fighters to sign with the UFC and the ultra talented Melbournian has relished his time in the Octagon thus far. He improved to 2-0 with a submission victory over Brazillian Vagner Rocha. After a competitive first round, Jake rocked Rocha on the feet, jumped on a rear naked choke and completely choking out his opponent. In his post-fight interview Matthews quoted Conor McGregor and asked for a match-up on the Boston card against Joe Ellenberger. It is the composure Jake shows that sets him apart from an average 20 year old, but the UFC will do well to foster his prodigious talents cautiously as the lightweight division is the toughest and most talent rich. Matthews was an elite AFL player as a youth and is a clean cut ambitious fighter who is quickly making the sky his only limit.

Robert Whittaker has likely found a home at 185lbs, fighting in front of his hometown crowd for the first time since 2012. The TUF Smashes welterweight winner is going against trend by moving up a division post TUF, but he relied on his pin point striking against the hulking frame of American Clint Hestor. Both fighters exchanged leather from close range in a Fight of the Night slugfest and it was Whittaker’s ability to wear some brutal strikes and fire back with deadly accuracy that proved the determining factor.

After a hard fought round one both fighters turned it up and the momentum shifted from Whittaker to Hester then back to Whittaker, who in the finishing sequence landed a knee to Hester’s head, dropping him against the cage. Whittaker improves to 4-2 in the UFC and at 23 he is already a rare comodity, an Australian fighter who has an international profile. Whittaker has fought top flight competition in his short career, including a split decision loss to Court McGee and he derailed TUF 16 winner Colton Smith’s hype train at UFC 160.

A historic card with all roads leading to a Melbourne blockbuster stacked with Australian and Kiwi talent and hopefully a title fight or two.

(Feature picture courtesy of Joshua Stebbings – Photographer)

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Author:Michael Job

Australasian MMA

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One Comment on “AUSMMA highlights from history making fight card in Sydney”

  1. Michael Job
    November 10, 2014 at 5:32 am #

    Reblogged this on Once Were Wimps and commented:

    On a day history was made

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