The Sunday Aftermath – UFC Fight Night 65: Hunt vs. Miocic

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The Adelaide Entertainment Centre in South Australia was the venue for this weekend’s main MMA action as the UFC returned from a rare weekend off. Broadcast around the world on Fight Pass, UFC Fight Night 65, like many of its kind, was a card filled with a local talent and topped off by a meaningful fight at the head of the rankings. This week’s headliner saw Aussie based New Zealander Mark Hunt take on fellow top 10 ranked heavyweight Stipe Miocic with title implications possibly on the line.

Miocic Mauls Hard Headed Hunt

After a respectful handshake at the staredown, the niceties were soon thrown out the window. Hunt, as he almost always is, was first to land as he immediately struck with a heavy leg kick which he followed up with two short left hands. Miocic quickly established his distance, though, and showed his clear plan of keeping Hunt on the end of a constantly jabbing left hand and, within the first thirty seconds, Hunt was on his back after a neatly timed Miocic level change and takedown. To his credit, Hunt immediately popped back up and went on the attack again as the pair collided in the pocket. Miocic looked, by a distance, the faster man but Hunt’s ability to close the distance allowed him to land on occasion despite most of his shots being avoided. Hunt’s left hook was his most prudent shot but the jab of Miocic, followed usually by the straight right, was the difference early on. After taking ownership of the striking, another Miocic takedown came with two minutes left in round one. This time he was able to control Hunt and battered him with short shots from the half-guard as Hunt struggled to defend. Late in the round Miocic transitioned to side-control and looked for a Kimura but it wasn’t there and Hunt was able to escape just before the bell sounded.

A neck snapping jab from Miocic opened up the second round and was quickly followed by three more of the same shot in accordance with his corner instructions between rounds. Hunt was clearly feeling the effects but managed to stuff a takedown attempt before landing a couple of jabs of his own. A leg kick from Hunt was probably his best shot of the opening round two exchanges but a couple of short elbows from Miocic quickly had him on the back foot again before, midway through the round, Miocic got another takedown. This time he had Hunt against the cage and landed a series of shots as he rode out the Aussie from the back without establishing any hooks. Hunt was eventually able to escape but ate three hurtful right hands for his troubles. As it was all night, the jab of Miocic again gave him dominance on the feet and, as Hunt looked ever more tired, he was able add more elbows and right hands behind his lead. A prolonged clinch late in the round followed by a wild exchange gave Hunt no time to recover and he walked to his corner with a downtrodden look on his swollen face.

The jab of Miocic was, again, the first shot landed in round three but this time Hunt was expecting it and he countered with a beautiful left hook which Stipe took well. After that the pair traded jabs again before another masterful Miocic level change gave him his fourth takedown. Just like the first round, Miocic landed in the half-guard and unloaded a series of short elbows on the weary Hunt followed by the rarely seen attack to the body on the ground. Miocic looked to be setting up the Kimura again which forced Hunt to squirm towards the cage but in doing so he opened himself up even more. Miocic saw the opening and significantly upped the pace as he drove left hand after left hand into the face of the former K1 world champion. Hunt, somehow, survived the barrage as Miocic had to let off the gas for fear of running on fumes.  As he got back to his feet, though, Hunt looked spent and was taken down again. This time Miocic didn’t hold back and battered the face of Hunt as he ominously stood over him. Hunt had no answer for the attacks and by the time Miocic took the mount the fight looked to be all but over. Thirty plus unanswered shots from Miocic soon followed but that wasn’t enough for the referee to step in as Hunt managed to keep his hands in a position which must have suggested some sort of intelligent defence. Miraculously, Hunt survived and saw the round’s end.

The doctor checked on Hunt between rounds but he was allowed to continue and landed a beautiful combination to start the period. The resurgence didn’t last long, though, as Miocic stiffened him up with a straight right before taking Hunt to the floor with consummate ease. There, he again secured the half-guard position and rained down hammerfist after hammerfist, elbow after elbow and punch after punch as Hunt had absolutely no answer for what Miocic was bringing. Hunt tried unbelievably hard to get the underhook and escape but Miocic’s control was unflappable. Hunt, again, managed to get to the cage but ate a gargantuan shot as he eventually got to his feet. Miocic didn’t let him escape for a second, though, and pushed him into a clinch from the remaining seconds of another round he clearly won.

Between rounds Hunt probably should have been taken out of the fight by his corner as he looked absolutely shot with both eyes swollen shut but, after being again checked by the doctor, he answered the final call. Within five seconds Miocic tagged him with a jab and took him to the floor. Miocic looked pretty tired himself by this stage and wasn’t able to land at a clip which he showed earlier in the bout but did keep a solid pace and controlled well while landing enough shots to keep his position. Hunt offered absolutely no offence and when Miocic got his second wind and upped the pace; it was the beginning of the end. Mercifully, after another thirty unanswered ground strikes the referee stepped in and stopped the fight with a little over three minutes of the twenty five left. For Miocic it was an absolutely dominant display but for Hunt it may be his last stand as an elite heavyweight.

Whittaker Smashes Tavares

In the co-main event another Aussie favourite was in action as TUF Smashes housemate, and eventual winner, Robert Whittaker fought tough Hawaiian Brad Tavares in an interesting middleweight scrap. After looking slightly nervous walking out to the rapturous home crowd Whittaker quickly shook off the cobwebs as he landed two crunching kicks, one to the leg, one to the body, while taking the centre of the Octagon.

Tavares answered back with a leg kick of his own and landed a second as he tried to settle, but, as he went to throw a third leg kick, Whittaker landed a stiffening jab right on the button which clearly caught the Hawaiian unawares. Tavares ploughed forward regardless and was swinging hard again but ate two more left hands. The first one buckled his knees and left him a sitting duck, the second one had him badly rocked and put him on the seat of his pants. Without a moment’s hesitation, Whittaker immediately dropped down in an attempt to finish his usually durable opponent. And that’s exactly what he did as he unleashed two swooping hammerfists which took Tavares’ consciousness and forced referee Steve Perceval to step in and stop the fight with just 44 seconds on the clock. For Whittaker it marks, by far, the biggest win of his career and may signal see him enter the middleweight rankings with a bright future ahead.

Before that, the undercard saw a series of finishes in what’s becoming an Aussie tradition at this stage. There were submission wins on the night for Bec Rawlings, Brad Scott, Alex Chambers and James Vick who unset highly touted hometown prospect Jake Matthews while knockouts for Sean O’Connell, Dan Hooker, Sam Alvey and Ben Nguyen gave the crown their money’s worth.

Check out the full results below.

Main Card

Stipe Miocic def. Mark Hunt via TKO – R5, 2:47
Robert Whittaker def. Brad Tavares via KO – R1, 0:44
Sean O’Connell def. Anthony Perosh via TKO – R1, 0:56
James Vick def. Jake Matthews via submission (guillotine) – R1, 4:53

Preliminary Card

Daniel Hooker def. Hatsu Hioki via KO – R2, 4:13
Kyle Noke def. Jonavin Webb via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28) – R3, 5:00
Sam Alvey def. Daniel Kelly via TKO – R1, 0:49
Bec Rawlings def. Lisa Ellis via submission (rear-naked choke) – R1, 4:09
Brad Scott def. Dylan Andrews via submission (guillotine) – R2, 4:54
Alex Chambers def. Kailin Curran via submission (armbar) – R3, 3:15
Brendan O’Reilly def. Vik Grujicvia via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ben Nguyen def. Alptekin Ozkilic via TKO – R1, 4:59

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma