UFC 149: Aussie influence on show this weekend in Calgary
While host country Canada boasts the most participants on this weekend’s UFC 149 fight card, there is a distant Australian influence to the UFC’s debut show in Calgary, Alberta, as well.
With transplants Hector Lombard and Brian Ebersole competing on the main card, and Sydney-based Anthony Perosh returning on the preliminary portion of the event, there are even more reasons than normal for Australian fans to tune into this weekend’s UFC pay-per-view.
After returning to the Octagon on short notice opposite Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at UFC 110, Perosh has since made the move down to the light heavyweight division, where he’s much better suited, and reeled off three consecutive victories, most recently stopping Nick Penner at the close of the first round back in March.
Saturday night in Calgary, the 40-year-old veteran takes on one of Penner’s training partners, the debuting Ryan Jimmo, who brings a 16-fight winning streak with him into the cage.
Perosh’s renaissance has been equal parts impressive and inspiring, considering he had been winless in the Octagon prior to moving back to the 205-pound ranks.
Now, he’s won three in a row, showcasing his dominant top game and jiu-jitsu acumen in each, while proving he still has something to offer, even at his advanced age.
A fourth consecutive win is not out of the question, either, as Jimmo has been out of action since last October and can be somewhat conservative inside the cage at times.
If Perosh can get him into a grappling match, the veteran could continue his resurgence and kick off the Australian interest in this event with a win.
Stepping into the cage for the second time in a month, American transplant Brian Ebersole looks to earn the 51st victory of his career Saturday against welterweight wrestler James Head.
Ebersole, who fights out of Melbourne and has won 11 consecutive contests dating back to his loss against fellow UFC 149 competitor Hector Lombard (more on him shortly) at CFC 5, looks to extend his UFC run of success to five, building off his June win over TJ Waldburger here.
As crafty in the cage as he is charismatic outside of it, it’s hard to root against the man who introduced the UFC universe to “The Hairrow” in his bout against Chris Lytle in February 2011.
Despite his quartet of victories since entering the UFC as an injury replacement for Carlos Condit, Ebersole still isn’t mentioned as a potential contender in the welterweight ranks, and I’m not sure why.
Collecting four straight wins in one of the UFC’s deepest, most talented divisions is a difficult task, and should “The White Anderson Silva” push his streak to five with a win in Calgary, it will be hard to continue overlooking him as a title challenger moving forward.
And then there is Hector Lombard, the former Bellator champion who makes his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch with a shot at Anderson Silva’s UFC middleweight title awaiting him if he comes away with an impressive victory on Saturday night.
His debut is one of the most anticipated in recent memory, probably the biggest since fighters like Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Dan Henderson made their way to the UFC after the fall of Pride.
Having smashed his way through 20 consecutive opponents between Bellator and CFC, everyone is curious to see if Lombard has simply been getting the better of second-tier talent or if he can be a legitimate threat to the most dominant champion in UFC history.
The former Olympic judo competitor has a stern test before him in Calgary, paired with Tim Boetsch after a series of injuries scuttled both men’s original match-ups. Coming off a comeback win over Yushin Okami at UFC 144, Boetsch has quickly made his way up the middleweight ranks, and marks the most stern challenge Lombard has faced in some time.
A victory over the surging Boetsch will solidify Lombard as a true title challenger, most likely moving him to the head of the list.
Though some will surely want to challenge the inclusion of Ebersole and Lombard as Australians, they are nonetheless strong representatives of the kind of talent the burgeoning Australian MMA scene can produce.
This weekend, they look to build off the dominant performance put forth by James Te Huna last week, and continue giving Aussie MMA fans something to cheer about on the sport’s biggest stage.
Follow The Roar’s UFC Expert E. Spencer Kyte on Twitter (@spencerkyte).
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