Yoel Romero in their highly anticipated main event rematch.
Western Sydney’s Tuivasa, a rising star in the heavyweight division, upped his perfect pro record to 10-0 with a victory over former world champion
Andrei Arlovski, and while Anderson lost her UFC debut to featherweight superstar Holly Holm, the former Invicta FC champion from the Gold Coast is expected to do big things at 145 pounds in the future.
In other words, fighters from Australia and New Zealand have come a long way since the days when
Elvis Sinosic, Anthony Perosh and James Te Huna were the only natives representing those two nations in the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in the world.
“I’m a forever optimist, so I was hoping,” said Perosh in 2012 when asked if he saw the day when fighters from Australia would get the chance to be on a level playing field with fighters from around the globe in the Octagon. “Even from the fact that Australia is a big sporting nation and Australia doesn’t want to be left behind in anything. We’re already this big island in the middle of the ocean with nothing surrounding us, and we always try to keep up with everything. It doesn’t matter whether it’s sport or finance or whatever, we always want to be in there, and I think MMA was just a natural progression.”
Two years prior to Perosh’s statement, he appeared on the UFC’s first card Australia, battling
Mirko Cro Cop on short notice at UFC 110 in Sydney. Countryman George Sotirpoulos decisioned Joe Stevenson on the card, and New Zealand’s Te Huna opened the card with a stoppage of Igor Pokrajac.
From there, it was a slow and steady rise to UFC prominence for the talented and gritty battlers bringing “Thunder from Down Under,” with fighters like Whittaker and superstar striker
Mark Hunt leading the way. At present, there have been 12 UFC events in Australia, and in June 2014, the Octagon visited Auckland for the first of two New Zealand shows.
But the Aussies and Kiwis are just getting started, as the
UFC Fight Night card at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 23 features four of the finest competitors from Australia and New Zealand.
In the co-main event, No. 13-ranked light heavyweight contender
Tyson Pedro gets the opportunity to move further up the rankings at 205 pounds when he takes on No. 7-ranked Ovince Saint Preux. Mixing his camp with stays in Australia, Thailand and the United States, Sydney’s Pedro has won seven of his eight pro fights, finishing all seven of his victories in the first round. And the 26-year-old is hoping for more of the same against the respected OSP.