The UFC heads back to Australia this weekend for the third stadium show in company history, headlined by the two most dominant women in the UFC today each defending their championships in front of a potential record-setting crowd. UFC 193 takes place on Saturday night on pay-per-view with the main card airing at 10 PM eastern time. Preliminary card action kicks off on UFC Fight Pass at 6:15 PM eastern time before heading on over to FS1 at 8 PM eastern time for more prelim action.
The most dominant woman in MMA today, UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey, defends her title in the main event against undefeated challenger, Holly Holm, in a fight that could end up being the toughest test to date for Rousey. In the co-main event, the most dominant woman at 115 pounds, UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, defends her title against Valerie Letourneau, winner of four straight fights. Also on the card is a heavyweight bout between Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva, who meet in a rematch of their epic encounter from December 2013. Let's take a deeper look into the action and give you five storylines to keep an eye on at UFC 193 on Saturday night.
1. Can Holly Holm be the woman to dethrone Ronda Rousey?
Ronda Rousey has been, arguably, the most dominant champion in UFC history, or at the very least, of the last couple of years. She is undefeated in her career at 12-0, and she has only been out of the first round once in her career. She has scored eight wins in less than a minute, three wins by knockout, and nine wins by submission, with all nine coming by her signature move- the armbar. She has amassed just under 26 minutes of total fight time in her twelve career fights. Everything about her fighting has been dominant. She has become a mainstream star unheard of in the sport, due not just to the attention she has received from being a fighter, but also due to her new-found status in Hollywood. She may not be long for the sport at this rate, but every time she steps foot inside the Octagon, you get the feeling you are about to see something special yet again.
Holly Holm is 9-0 since moving over to MMA from boxing, where she won 19 world titles in her career while putting together a 33-2-3 career record. She also has some professional kickboxing experience. She was impressive early in her MMA career, winning six of her first seven fights by knockout, leading to negotiations with the UFC. It was a long process, but she finally signed in July 2014. Injuries kept her from debuting for a while, but she was coming into the UFC with a lot of hype. She also works with one of the best fight camps in the world, the Greg Jackson camp in New Mexico, and under a lot of great coaches and with some of the best training partners in the world. She has been somewhat underwhelming in her two UFC bouts, scoring solid, yet overall unimpressive, wins over Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau. She was selected as Rousey's next opponent, likely before she was fully ready, because it was what Rousey wanted. Holm now has the chance to show she is the one that can dethrone the champion.
Holm's two UFC bouts have almost been like walk throughs in anticipation of a chess match with Rousey. Holm moves around a lot on her feet, and she picks her attacks rather nicely. She throws a lot, but doesn't make a lot of mistakes. She's methodical in her approach. Rousey is much the same. Rousey doesn't make mistakes, and she is much better on her feet than she has gotten credit for. She is also a master of gameplans. Holm's coach, Greg Jackson, is also a gameplan master. Holm has shown good takedown defense, and it is going to need to be on point against Rousey. Both women fight very smart and Holm isn't going to rush in right after Rousey. This fight may be different than any Rousey fight we have seen to this date, but it is hard to envision the outcome being any different. It's not a matter of if Rousey will win, but how long will it take. We are in store for another special moment on Saturday, but Holm will be a very tough test for Rousey to pass.
2. Does Valerie Letourneau have a chance against Joanna Jedrzejczyk?
Valerie Letourneau enters UFC 193 on Saturday night challenging Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC Women's Strawweight Championship. She is doing it on the heels of four straight wins and is coming off a win over Maryna Moroz in August. She has been declared an undeserving challenger by most, but at the same time, they needed someone to challenge Jedrzejczyk, and she was likely the best option available at the time due to injuries and bookings to others. She enters as the biggest underdog in a title fight in history, and a simple $100 bet on her would win you $1,335 if she were to pull off the upset. Quite frankly, she is being counted out before the two women even step foot inside the Octagon. The big question is does she even stand a chance against Jedrzejczyk?
Letourneau has some solid striking and comes from a good camp in the American Top Team camp. The only losses in her career have come to Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman and Claudia Gadelha. Two of those have won and fought for titles, and the other, Gadelha, is next in line when she returns from the injured list. Jedrzejczyk is a different beast, though. She is undefeated in ten career fights, and she is likely the best striker in women's fighting, no matter the weight class. She tees off on opponents, and her dominant win over Jessica Penne in her first title defense in June shows how great her attack is. She has overwhelmed both Penne and Carla Esparza in their title fight, and Gadelha has been the only one to give her a tough fight. Gadelha arugably beat Jedrzejczyk. Letourneau is going to need to be on the offensive and use her reach advantage. She won't be able to outstrike Jedrzejczyk, so she should mix in some grappling. However, the champion is strong there. This is all set up for a showcase win for Jedrzejczyk, and it's only a matter of how long it takes the champion to win.
3. Can Mark Hunt and Antonio Silva recapture the magic of their first fight?
Depending on who you ask and when you ask them, Mark Hunt and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva were involved in the greatest fight in UFC history when they met each other in December 2013. It was an amazing heavyweight battle that surprisingly went 25 minutes, with over 320 strikes landed between the two of them. They were bloodied and battered, and when all was said and done, the fight ended without a winner. It ended in a draw, in one of those rare occurences where a draw is determined without a point deduction to factor in. It was a magical moment on that December night in Australia, and the two big heavyweights will step back into the Octagon again on Saturday night in Australia looking to recapture the magic of their first encounter. More importantly, after a draw, they, and fans alike, want a definitive winner.
When you are involved in one of the best fights in history, if you try it again with the same components, rarely does it ever live up to the first fight. Both men are different since that war. Hunt is coming off two straight losses, one of which was a brutal beating at the hands of Stipe Miocic. Silva lost his next two fights in bad fashion, but is coming off a big win over Soa Palelei. At this stage in their careers, it is unsure if either man has much left to give to the top contenders. Both still have that power that can make a difference in the heavyweight division, but their days of challenging for titles are likely long gone. That is why this is a perfect moment for a rematch. Hunt has the biggest difference maker in his right hand, but the beating he took at the hands of Miocic may be the beginning of the end for him. Silva's chin can hardly take a punch these days, as his last five losses have all been first-round knockout losses. They are only going three rounds this time, and I sense a different outcome this time, with a winner truly decided. Who will that be? I like Hunt getting a knockout win.
4. Will Uriah Hall continue his surge up the UFC's middleweight rankings?
Uriah Hall steps into the Octagon for fifth time on Saturday night, and he does so for the second straight time on short notice against a dangerous opponent. Last time it was Gegard Mousasi, and most thought Hall was headed to Japan to collect a paycheck and a beating. In the first round of their bout, it was looking like it was going to be a long night for Hall. However, in the second round, Hall pulled off a highlight-reel finish that he became known for during his time on "The Ultimate Fighter". A spinning back kick landed to Mousasi's face, then a flying knee, and before you know it, Hall finished Mousasi in a stunning upset to collect a performance bonus, a huge win, and the number ten ranking in the UFC's middleweight rankings. It finally looked like Hall was going to start to live up to his potential as he has now won five of his last six fights.
He gets another tough foe on Saturday night as he steps in to fight Robert Whittaker, who has been looking great himself since moving up to 185 pounds. Whittaker is a former TUF winner, but after winning his first two UFC bouts, he dropped his next two. He has since won three straight, including two straight knockout wins after deciding to make the move up from 170 pounds. He has established himself as a formidable threat in the middleweight division, and he has moved to number 14 in the UFC's middleweight rankings. He has a lot of power in his hands and can finish fights quickly with his punches. He doesn't have the overall striking prowess of Hall, and when Whittaker faced a similiar striker when he took on Stephen Thompson, it was Thompson finishing Whittaker. Hall has a lot of momentum, and with taking another short notice fight, while it'll be his third fight in three months, he has a lot of confidence after the win over Mousasi. It'll likely be a highlight-reel win in either direction, but Hall gets the job done here.
5. What else on the card is there to look out for?
The UFC 193 main card on pay-per-view rounds out with a heavyweight bout between Stefan Struve and Jared Rosholt. It will be Struve's 16th appearance inside the Octagon, and after a long list of setbacks, he got back into the win column in scoring a decision win at UFC 190 in August over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, which will be notable in history as the last fight in the legendary career for Nogueira. For Rosholt, it will be the first pay-per-view appearance for him as he looks to extend his two-fight win streak and move into the heavyweight rankings. He is 5-1 during his stint in the UFC, but it hasn't been an overly impressive five wins as four of them have come by decision, and in not-so-pretty fashion. If there is one thing about Struve, it is that he can be finished, as all five of his UFC losses have come by knockout. It is the chance for Rosholt to score an impressive win, or for Struve to pick up his 11th triumph inside the Octagon.
In preliminary card action, each fight will feature a fighter hailing from Australia. It is not the most-stacked preliminary card in terms of name value, but features some solid fighters. One of the big names to watch is Jake Matthews, a 21-year-old lightweight looking to bounce back from the first loss in his career. He has been impressive in his short career, scoring seven of his eight wins by stoppage, but he gets a durable opponent in Akbarh Arreola, who has 22 wins by stoppage. In welterweight action, Kyle Noke looks for his second straight win against Peter Sobotta, holder of a seven-fight win streak. UFC veterans Anthony Perosh and Gian Villante will meet in a light heavyweight bout as both men look to rebound from setbacks in their previous bouts. A fight on the UFC Fight Pass portion to keep an eye on is the night's opening bout, a flyweight contest between Ben Nguyen and Ryan Benoit. Nguyen has won seven straight fights, while Benoit is coming off an impressive second-round TKO win over Sergio Pettis at UFC 185 in March.
Full UFC 193 Fight Card, Betting Odds and Predictions
MAIN CARD (PPV- 10 PM ET/7 PM PT)
UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship: (C) Ronda Rousey vs. (#7) Holly Holm
Betting Odds: Rousey (-1900), Holm (+1200)
Prediction: Rousey by submission in round 1
UFC Women's Strawweight Championship: (C) Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. (#8) Valerie Letourneau
Betting Odds: Jedrzejczyk (-2150), Letourneau (+1300)
Prediction: Jedrzejczyk by knockout in round 2
Heavyweights: (#8) Mark Hunt vs. (#11) Antonio Silva
Betting Odds: Hunt (-265), Silva (+225)
Prediction: Hunt by knockout in round 1
Middleweights: (#10) Uriah Hall vs. (#14) Robert Whittaker
Betting Odds: Hall (-130), Whittaker (+110)
Prediction: Hall by knockout in round 2
Heavyweights: (#14) Stefan Struve vs. Jared Rosholt
Betting Odds: Struve (-125), Rosholt (+105)
Prediction: Struve by decision
PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1- 8 PM ET/5 PM PT)
Lightweights: Jake Matthews vs. Akbarh Arreola
Betting Odds: Matthews (-900), Arreola (+600)
Prediction: Matthews by submission in round 1
Welterweights: Kyle Noke vs. Peter Sobotta
Betting Odds: Noke (+145), Sobotta (-165)
Prediction: Noke by decision
Light Heavyweights: Anthony Perosh vs. Gian Villante
Betting Odds: Perosh (+325), Villante (-400)
Prediction: Villante by knockout in round 1
Flyweights: Richie Vaculik vs. Danny Martinez
Betting Odds: Vaculik (-105), Martinez (-115)
Prediction: Vaculik by decision
PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC FIGHT PASS- 6:15 PM ET/3:15 PM PT)
Middleweights: Dan Kelly vs. Steve Montgomery
Betting Odds: Kelly (+230), Montgomery (-270)
Prediction: Kelly by submission in round 2
Welterweights: Richard Walsh vs. Steve Kennedy
Betting Odds: Walsh (-330), Kennedy (+270)
Prediction: Walsh by decision
Welterweights: James Moontasri vs. Anton Zafir
Betting Odds: Moontasri (-320), Zafir (+260)
Prediction: Zafir by decision
Flyweights: Ben Nguyen vs. Ryan Benoit
Betting Odds: Nguyen (-145), Benoit (+125)
Prediction: Nguyen by knockout in round 2