Two weeks from today MMA fans will be in the midst of another UFC marathon, as June 28th marks the organization’s second double header in as many months. Last time the events were split between Berlin and Sao Paulo, while this time around the octagon heads all the way to Auckland, New Zealand before returning to San Antonio for the nightcap. Altogether there are 21 bouts scheduled for June 28th, with ten of those being considered “main card” bouts. Those are the fights we’ll take a look at today. In Auckland, James Te Huna will attempt to play the local hero as he takes on Nate Marquardt in the main event. This isn’t the most compelling bout, as Te Huna has lost his last two bouts and Marquardt has dropped his past three. At the very least it will be interesting to see how these two match up physically, with Te Huna dropping from light heavyweight and Marquardt coming up from welterweight to meet in this middleweight clash. The co-main event features Aussie Soa Palelei making the trip across the Tasman Sea to take on Jared Rosholt. Palelei will look to move to a surprising 4-0 in his current UFC run, but Rosholt presents the biggest test for him since fighting Daniel Cormier back in 2010. With Palelei being unable to execute his normal takedown and ground and pound strategy, it will be interesting to see how he approaches this bout. The standout bout from the NEw Zealand card is a featherweight tilt between two very similar fighters, as Hatsu Hioki takes on Charles Oliveira. Both men are extremely skilled strikers and even more capable grapplers. Defensive wrestling has never been the strength of either, but that could cancel out here and let their other skills shine in a back and forth fight that goes everywhere. Another Australian, Robert Whittaker, looks to rebound from back-to-back losses in the UFC as he takes on Mike Rhodes in the opening main card bout. Rhodes wasn’t particularly impressive in his UFC debut, dropping a decision due to an uncharacteristically flat performance, so both men will have plenty to prove here. MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened the betting lines for UFC Fight Night 43 at Several Bookmakers today. Take a look: ——————– MAIN CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 5am ET) James Te Huna -190 Nate Marquardt +150 Jared Rosholt -230 Soa Palelei +170 Charles Oliveira -125 Hatsu Hioki -115 Robert Whittaker -245 Mike Rhodes +175 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Because of all the lines being opened, I’ll keep things brief here. Nate Marquardt has a habit of being tentative and getting himself knocked out. Going up to middleweight and facing a fighter coming down from light heavyweight shouldn’t help that mindset at all. Te Huna likely gets a KO, but could find himself in a bit of trouble if this gets into the fourth and fifth rounds. It says a lot to me that Soa Palelei has been able to find three winnable fights in the UFC in 2014. He will not find a fourth. Jared Rosholt is the better wrestler, better conditioned, and neither of these men offers much on the feet. Without being able to just muscle his opponent to the ground, Palelei will struggle to get much accomplished here. I mentioned that neither Hioki nor Oliveira has particularly good defensive wrestling, but Hioki does possess a good offensive wrestling game. I see him using that to get top position, pass guard and win on points against Oliveira, who will be difficult — although not impossible — to stop. Mike Rhodes should put on a better performance than he did in his UFC debut, but I don’t think it will be enough. Whittaker is the better (not to mention, more active) striker in this bout, and his takedown defense should be more than enough to keep it standing. ——————– While I don’t anticipate many North American fans will be awake at 2:30am ET to catch the fight pass prelims, or 5am ET to watch the main card from Auckland, they will certainly be awake for the stronger half of the day’s MMA action from San Antonio. Featherweight contenders Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens look to insert themselves squarely in the title picture with a win in the main event. From a fan perspective, it’s hard to see a bout between these two talented strikers being anything other than entertaining. Welterweight prospects Kelvin Gastelum and Nico Musoke should provide some fireworks of their own, as both fight at a very high pace. Gastelum has been pegged as one of the top prospects at 170lbs, but Musoke has impressed early on in his UFC tenure as well and the Allstars Training Center representative should only be getting better with the backing of his excellent gym. Both Andrew Craig and Cezar Ferreira took some big punishment in their last outings, and are hoping to inflict damage this time around in an effort to right their respective ships. With the defensive liabilities of both men, this could turn into a highly entertaining bout. Another very intriguing featherweight contest is on the main card, as former UFC title challenger Ricardo Lamas takes on teammate of the man he fought for the 145lb belt, Hacran Dias. Both fighters have strong wrestling bases, so this bout will likely turn on who controls those grappling exchanges. Antonio Braga Neto made an impressive UFC debut with a quick kneebar submission, but that bout was all the way back in June of 2013. He will have been out of action for 385 days by the time he steps in the cage with Clint Hester who has compiled his own 3-0 mark in the UFC in nearly the same time. Hester is the more dangerous striker, while Braga Neto has a huge advantage on the ground, so takedowns and takedown defense will determine this one. Joe Ellenberger being placed on the main card of this event even though he’s now facing a relative unknown in Bryan Barberena speaks to how highly the UFC thinks of Ellenberger (or his story). Ellenberger is a talented lightweight, but he’s not any sort of “can’t miss” prospect. While Barberena is a heavy hitter who wasn’t shown much else so far in his career, so this bout will be a fact-finding mission more than anything for bettors. Nick Kalikas also released these lines today at Several Bookmakers. Check them out: ——————– MAIN CARD (Fox Sports 1, 10pm ET) Cub Swanson -210 Jeremy Stephens +160 Kelvin Gastelum -505 Nico Musoke +335 Cezar Ferreira -150 Andrew Craig +110 Ricardo Lamas -170 Hacran Dias +130 Antonio Braga Neto -160 Clint Hester +120 Joe Ellenberger -280 Bryan Barberena +200 ——————– Brad’s Analysis: Jeremy Stephens has impressed thus far at featherweight, but Cub Swanson is better than him in many areas. He’s a more dynamic, varied and faster striker, and he’s a far better submission artist. The wrestling is a wash to me, as Stephens might be the better wrestler, but Swanson is the better scrambler. That all points to me picking Swanson but I doubt the price ever gets good enough to where I’d want to bet it. The same can be said of Gastelum/Musoke. Gastelum is actually taking a step down in competition here, and I think it’s the right thing to do to develop him. He’s still very young, and he doesn’t need to be rushed in against top 10 competition. Musoke will be a challenge to put away, but Gastelum should have advantages everywhere in this fight. The problem is, the public is fully behind him as well meaning this line will likely only get bigger. I side slightly with Cezar Ferreira in this bout, but only because I think he’ll land the bigger shot first. Andrew Craig is extremely hittable, and the shots that are landing are beginning to affect him more. Ferreira isn’t particularly stout of chin himself, but he’s a bit better defensively and should be able to dictate this fight on the feet. Hacran Dias made his UFC debut in June 2012, and this will only be his third bout in the organization. If he was more active I’d give him a better shot against Ricardo Lamas, but between the inactivity, him coming to the US for this fight, and his struggles with wrestler Nik Lentz, this seems like a favorable fight for the former challenger. Again, he’s likely to see a great deal of public backing though. Clint Hester has improved steadily since his appearance on TUF, but he still has some holes in his grappling. He can be put on his back at times, and when there he doesn’t seem particularly comfortable. That’s Braga Neto’s specialty and the reason I give him a slight edge here — despite his inactivity. It’s not a terribly confident lean at this point because of the advantage Hester has on the feet, but if the price is right I can see myself taking a shot. I’m picking Ellenberger in his UFC debut, but there’s no way I’m betting on a fighter who hasn’t competed since December 2012 and has some well-documented, serious health issues.