The UFC is back with another double-header this weekend with shows on both sides of that thing we call a map. Kicking off this day of MMA action is UFC Fight Night 43 which comes to us from the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand and is headlined by a middleweight bout featuring New Zealand’s own, James Te Huna and Nate ‘The Great’ Marquardt.
A preview for UFC Fight Night 44 will follow on from this one later in the week, as featherweights Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens do battle, so keep an eye on WHOATV for that, but for now, let’s get going with the UFC Fight Night 43 main card preview.
James Te Huna vs. Nate Marquardt – 185lbs.
Both Te Huna and Marquardt are changing weights for this one, with Te Huna coming down from 205lbs and Marquardt going back up to middleweight having spent the last couple of years as a welterweight. Te Huna’s move has been prompted as a result of losing his last two bouts at light-heavyweight, but they were against Glover Teixeira and Shogun Rua, whereas Marquardt is on a three-fight skid having lost his last bout in Strikeforce and his following two bouts inside the Octagon on his return to the UFC.
Marquardt was once one of the very best in the world, but this is no longer the case. Far from it. Marquardt was KO’d in his last two bouts as a welterweight and now finds himself in a fight with a former light-heavyweight who throws bricks. Te Huna takes this one.
Prediction – Te Huna via KO/TKO
Soa Palelei vs. Jared Rosholt – 265lbs.
Soa Palelei has been fun to watch recently. After a bit of snoozefest in his return fight to the UFC against Nikita Krylov last year, Palelei has scored back-to-back quick KO victories over Pat Barry and Ruan Potts, with the victory over Potts coming just last month. Rosholt, on the other hand, hasn’t been quite as emphatic in his two Octagon performances, but he has been effective in wins over Walt Harris and Daniel Omielanczuk, yet showing that he is still in his MMA developmental stage, having excelled in collegiate wrestling.
I expect Palelei to have the edge in striking and could very well KO his opponent given half the chance, but Rosholtshould be able to keep Palelei down and out of trouble long enough to please the judges.
Prediction – Rosholt via decision
Hatsu Hioki vs. Charles Oliveira – 145lbs.
To me, this is a ‘what could have been’ match-up. Hatsu Hioki had a lot of heat behind him when he first arrived in the UFC back in 2011 thanks to his impressive exploits on the Asian MMA circuit, and I struggle to think of too many more fighters in recent years that burst on to the scene like Charles Oliveira did in 2010 at just 20 years of age. Both fighters’ respective careers have stalled somewhat, Hioki with key losses to fellow featherweight contenders and Oliveira having been overmatched in opponent too early, but this bout represents a chance to propel themselves back up the ladder with each man carrying a big enough name to build off of.
Both men are primarily submission artists and will likely cancel each other out in the grappling stakes, so this one will be decided on the feet where Oliveira has a sizeable advantage.
Prediction – Oliveira via KO/TKO
Robert Whittaker vs. Mike Rhodes – 170lbs.
With a 6-2 record with no notable wins whatsoever, Mike Rhodes seems to have been handpicked to get a former TUF winner back on track. Whittaker, who triumphed in the inaugural and so far only series of The Ultimate Figther: The Smashes, has lost his last two UFC appearances and really could do with a victory to ensure employment. Thankfully for Whittaker, I see him getting it done.
Prediction – Whittaker via submission