UFC 251 will take place on Sunday 12th July at UFC Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Unbeaten bantamweight Jason Moloney (17-0) has the chance to join Australian boxing legends Lionel Rose and Jeff Fenech by becoming a world bantamweight champion this week in Orlando.
He’ll take on Puerto Rican champion Emmanuel Rodriguez (18-0) for his IBF belt. It’s a clash of two unbeaten fighters, so somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go!
While the 27-year-old Moloney is the challenger and the underdog heading into the fight, Australia has a proud history on the world bantamweight stage.
Lionel Rose famously won the WBC and WBA bantamweight belts by beating Japan’s Masahiko ‘Fighting’ Harada in Tokyo in 1968 via a close but unanimous points decision. Rose went on to successfully defend his title three times.
Jeff Fenech later won the IBF bantamweight world title by beating Japan’s Satoshi Shingaki in Sydney in 1985 via a ninth-round technical knockout. The ‘Marrickville Mauler’ went on to successfully defend that belt twice before moving up in weight and winning world titles in both the super bantamweight and featherweight divisions.
Jason Moloney began his career as an amateur and represented Australia at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. He turned pro in 2014 and has since had 14 knockout wins in 17 fights. His biggest win came earlier this year when he won the Commonwealth bantamweight title with a third-round stoppage of Namibia’s Immanuel Naidjala (23-4-1).
Moloney is a proud Victorian but relocated to northern New South Wales to train with Angelo Hyder, Danny Green’s former mentor.
Emmanuel Rodriguez, the 26-year-old IBF champion he’s facing this weekend, won his belt in May this year after scoring a unanimous points decision over England’s Paul Butler (26-2). Rodriguez has 12 knockouts from his 18 fights.
Jason will have his unbeaten twin brother Andrew (18-0) cheering him on against Rodriguez this weekend. Andrew fights as a super flyweight, which is one division below bantamweight. Andrew is also a Commonwealth titleholder and he won a gold medal as an amateur at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The brothers spar each other regularly during training.
A win this weekend would see Jason become Australia’s only current world champion with the major sanctioning bodies after Jeff Horn (18-1-1) lost his WBO welterweight title against Terence Crawford (34-0) in June.