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The Rise of Oceania MMA

Recently there’s been quite an influx of talent coming to the UFC from Australia and New Zealand. Three undefeated fighters will be representing Oceania MMA at UFC 234. One of the undefeated is Israel Adesanya, who for most MMA fans is the most exciting prospect on this card. Add defending champion Robert Whittaker, who’s on a 9 fight win streak of his own, and you have a card seemingly full of some very talented fighters representing their region of the world.

A post shared by Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) on Feb 2, 2019 at 9:26pm PST

By this point, if you don’t know about The Last Stylebender you’re not much of an MMA fan. Adesanya has been on a tear as a professional, finishing 13 of 15 opponents via KO/TKO. Though his two decisions are in the UFC, it appears he’s performing better in each fight versus increasingly tougher opponents who are well established UFC veterans. His last win against Derek Brunson helped land his upcoming co-main event fight vs the middleweight GOAT, who also happens to be Adesanya’s main MMA idol. While the matchup of skills is extremely interesting, the betting odds are drastically against Silva, which particularly makes sense if you look at how Silva comparatively did against Brunson before his long forced layoff. The vibe of this fight is that we’re about to see a “passing of the torch”. Though I’m sure Silva has different plans, I have to side with the majority and say it’s tough to see how Anderson gets the job done.

A post shared by Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) on Nov 4, 2018 at 1:13am PST

Also undefeated on the main card are Jim Crute (9-0) and Nadia Kassem (5-0). A lot of people believe Crute is a force to be reckoned with but facing Sam Alvey on fairly short notice could be dangerous. Alvey is bit stylistically awkward and has more than double the amount of knockouts than Crute has wins. Crute can’t come in overconfident and reckless (like Hernandez vs Cowboy) or he could end up waking up wondering what happened. On the flipside, I believe an impressive win will create an opportunity for Crute to land a top 15 opponent in his next fight. If he takes a calculated yet aggressive approach and utilizes his well-roundedness he should come out victorious.

A post shared by Jim Crute (@jimmycrute) on Feb 6, 2019 at 10:58pm PST

Kassem was making some noise in her first 5 pro fights from 2015-2017 then, unfortunately, had to take time to recover from a lower back injury that occurred outside of training. The major difference I see between Kassem and her upcoming opponent, Montana De La Rosa, is their amount of fights and overall quality of opponents. Both fighters started their pro careers near the same time but Montana has nearly 3 times the amount of fights. Apparently, Kassem has been working hard on her wrestling, which I’m sure De La Rosa will test. If Kassem is able to get past De La Rosa it will be a solid step up in her career.

A post shared by Nadia “ 187 ” Kassem 🇦🇺🇱🇧 (@nadia187kassem) on Feb 3, 2019 at 3:16am PST

Shane Young is another solid young prospect I’m looking forward to see fight this weekend. His most recent loss was a decision loss to another Oceania MMA beast in Alexander Volkanovski. Giving Volkanovski a tougher out than ex-title challenger Chad Mendes is nothing to scoff at. No disrespect to Austin Arnett, but I see him as a heavy underdog in this one. Kai-Kara France is another fairly heavy favorite on the prelim, but I’m left curious about his 18-1 opponent Raulian Paiva. At 18-1 Paiva has 12 decision victories against the relatively unknown competition. Obviously, anything can happen in MMA, but I expect these two New Zealanders to impress on Saturday.

A post shared by Shane Young (@shaneyoungmma) on Feb 9, 2019 at 1:12am PST

Last but certainly not least, we have the main event; Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum. If anybody can battle Yoel Romero for 10 rounds and not only survive but win twice, it’s only natural to be extremely high on confidence. Romero is a terrifying athlete who’s decimated some the best competition middleweight has to offer, including nasty knockouts of men like Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold. Despite this Whittaker remains the UFC’s most humble champion, a truly great representative of Oceania MMA. Despite the odds (Whittaker a fairly heavy favorite), I think Gastelum is an interesting matchup for Whittaker. This fight has all the signs it will likely be a stand-up war, one that could easily go all 5 rounds. Both fighters used to fight at 170 and since they ditched the severe weight cut their results have been great. Whittaker went from being knocked out by Wonderboy at 170 to being able to withstand 10 rounds with Romero. The only loss for Kelvin at middleweight has been a submission loss to a much larger Weidman. Before Weidman was able to get the fight to the ground it seemed evident Kelvin was too fast & technical for Chris to deal with on the feet. In my opinion, if Chris didn’t get that fight to the ground when he did, he may have got knocked out. In short, I believe this championship fight to be closer than the odds dictate and it should be a very action-packed, technical stand up fight.

A post shared by Robert Whittaker (@robwhittakermma) on Feb 7, 2019 at 1:37am PST

If you’ve looked at the UFC 234 card and don’t view it as a very good pay per view event, you may want to wash your brain of any expectations and give the card a chance. UFC 234 is providing a great sample of what Oceania MMA has to offer. In my opinion, fighters from that region are nearly always action-packed, aggressive and exciting fighters. Outside of UFC 234, there are many other young fighters building their name like Alexander Volkanovski, Tai Tuivasa, Tyson Pedro, Megan Anderson, Jessica Rose-Clark & many others. While the young talent is on the rise there is a minimal amount of older veterans on their way out like Mark Hunt and Dan Kelly. Oceania MMA is definitely on the rise if you consider yourself a keen MMA fan you definitely need to keep an eye on the rising talent in that region of the world.

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