Stipe Miocic vs. Mark Hunt:
It seems logical that the next heavyweight title contender should emerge from this feature bout (unless Cain Velasquez loses to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 188 and we see a rematch two years down the road), so this fight is a both a pivotal and potentially entertaining bout. Obviously all of Hunt’s fights are must-see material, as he can end any bout with one well-timed punch. ‘The Super Samoan’ didn’t look his best in the loss to Werdum, but it was a short-notice fight where he cut 37 pounds. A legitimate turnaround should aid the 41-year-old slugger, but I see the younger Miocic using his length and reach to pick Hunt apart from the outside similar to what he did against Rory Nelson. He has been knocked out before, but after seeing him take Junior dos Santos’ best shots and survive, Miocic’s time at the top may finally be here. I’m picking Stipe Miocic by decision.
The heavyweight collision at the top of the card is holding a lot of weight, as the main event is really the only star power of the whole card. Mark Hunt has an uncanny ability to pull out huge knockouts in big fights, as shown against the iron-chinned Roy Nelson when they fought. Unfortunately for the fan favorite Pride FC crossover, I don’t think he’ll have much luck against the more technical Stipe Miocic. I see the Croatian out striking “The Super Samoan” with long punches and kicks. It hurts to say this as a Mark Hunt fan, but I think Stipe Miocic just has his number. Miocic by unanimous decision.
Brad Tavares vs. Robert Whittaker:
This fight is important for both New Zealand Whittaker and Hawaiian native Tavares in that they need to put on an impressive effort to use it as a springboard to bigger things in the UFC middleweight division. Tavares has been effective for the most part, but he just doesn’t get the job done in very exciting fashion, winning all but one of UFC victories by decision. Whittaker, meanwhile, has been a bit mercurial since winning The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes in 2012, alternating between two-fight win and loss streaks. Fortunately for him, he’s currently on the former of those two options, owning recent wins over Clint Hester and Mike Rhodes. Tavares is the favorite on paper, but I’m picking Whittaker to score the upset for Australian fans. Whittaker by unanimous decision.
A battle between middleweight strikers Brad Tavares and Robert Whittaker should prove to be a decent co-main event fight. Tavares is coming off a UFC 182 win over Nate Marquardt after losing two on the bounce, and Whittaker will look to make it three straight on his near-home turf. Expect the New Zealander to have plenty of support in his second straight fight down under. I think his crisp striking and smooth movement will win the day. Buoyed by the crowd, Whittaker takes the unanimous decision.
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