This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 65. These fights represent some of the highest moments in the careers of their respective participants, and should serve to pique your interest heading into the event. 1. Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve – UFC on Fuel TV 8 Upcoming Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Stipe Miocic
Aside from his UFC 135 bout against Ben Rothwell, Mark Hunt’s UFC run has been nothing but fun, so there were several options to choose from here. His fight against Struve is up on YouTube right now, so I went with that one. Obviously it shows off Hunt’s incredible punching power, but it also displays that while his grappling still lacks positionally, he has the awareness to avoid being submitted. The latter likely won’t be a big issue against Miocic on Saturday (or Sunday, depending on where you live), although a wrestling-based gameplan could give Hunt some issues here due to those positional deficiencies. More than likely, we’ll see something closer to a repeat of Hunt and Miocic’s bouts with Junior dos Santos, and that bodes well for our entertainment, just as Hunt/Struve did.
2. Jake Matthews vs. Dean Purdon – AFC 6 Upcoming Bout: Jake Matthews vs. James Vick
Jake Matthews is still very much a work in progress as an MMA fighter, which is exactly what you’d expect from a fighter who can’t even legally enjoy a drink in the US. If you compare this fight against Purdon (his second last outside of the UFC) to his latest performance against Vagner Rocha, you can already see the leaps in his striking and wrestling, but at his core he’s a very skilled grappler who likes to be aggressive on the feet to close the distance. While his wrestling wasn’t quite good enough to control this fight the way he is able to now, the grappling game is there. There’s a particularly fun scramble sequence from 4:10-3:30 of the second round, which helps set up the finish. If his bout with James Vick turns into a grappling match, it’s hard to see Matthews not getting his hand raised with his skills on the mat.
3. Hatsu Hioki vs. Marlon Sandro – Sengoku Soul of Fight Upcoming Bout: Hatsu Hioki vs. Daniel Hooker
I had to do some digging to find this one, but this is arguably Hioki’s greatest performance, so it’s worth it. When this bout took place, Marlon Sandro was a terrible “Omigawa must decision” away from being undefeated, and he was absolutely demolishing opponents. There were even some who thought that the winner of this fight could be 1b in the featherweight division alongside Jose Aldo (who had only defended his title twice by this point). After a good first round for Sandro, Hioki showed why people were so excited for him to eventually come to the UFC, as he dominated a high-level BJJ black belt on the ground for most of the next 20 minutes. If he can translate his immense skills into a UFC performance for once, he should make short work of Hooker on Saturday night, but one of Hioki’s problems has always been that he’s not the most urgent fighter out there.
Also, the actual fight starts at 13:45 of this video, so you may want to skip there unless you’re feeling nostalgic for the Japanese way of handling a big fight.
4. Sam Alvey vs. Jay Silva – MFC 37 Upcoming Bout: Sam Alvey vs. Daniel Kelly
Sam Alvey has to have the lowest output of any fighter who sports a 64% KO rate in his wins. That usually makes his fights kind of awkward, and sometimes boring, until all of sudden someone is unconscious. This bout against Jay Silva follows that pattern, as I think his fight against Dan Kelly will on Saturday. Silva keeps it entertaining by keeping up a high volume and throwing some creative strikes during the slow periods, but as is usually the case, Alvey eventually finds his opponent’s chin and scores the TKO.
5. Alp Ozkilic vs. John Lineker – UFC Fight Night 45 Upcoming Bout: Alp Ozkilic vs. Ben Nguyen
You have to go to Fight Pass for this one, but it’s well worth it, even if Dana White only ranked it his 14th favorite fight of 2014. The first round was good, the second was great, and the third round was phenomenal (although not for Ozkilic). Against the most dangerous boxer in the 128lb division, Ozkilic answered back with everything he could. He also showed that even though there were questions about his cardio coming off of his early UFC bouts, he didn’t fade too badly in the face on Lineker’s body shot onslaught. While it was a stoppage loss, it’s impossible to not raise Ozkilic’s stock after watching this fight, and now facing a massive step down in UFC newcomer Ben Nguyen, he may be able to show off the skills he flashed in this bout even more freely.