The Severe Spotlight: Jack Della Maddalena

(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

2022 is officially underway, fights are back. The UFC brought its first PPV card of the year to what felt like Little Mexico: Anaheim, California. The build up to the card was tumultuous. The withdrawals of Ilia Topuria, Rodolfo Viera so close to fight night were huge. The drama surrounding Francis N’Gannou; from sparring footage, to potential KO’s in the gym, a rumoured knee injury and of course, the tension between Dana White and the champion himself.

On paper the matchmaking felt as though it could use the names that fell off, some hot prospects, coupled with some stalwarts of divisions. But, on the night the card delivered a lot of fun fights, and more importantly, a vast swathe of stories for the upcoming news cycle.

The “God of War” Deiveson Figueiredo reclaimed the Flyweight title in another classic against Mexico’s pride and joy Brandon Moreno. Michel Pereira vs newcomer Andre Fialho was everything we could have wanted, Said Nurmagomedov demolished Cody Stamann and debutant Michael Morales announced his name in the UFC with a huge KO over long-time UFC veteran Trevin Giles.

The story and fighter we will focus on this week is Australia’s newest prospect: 170lb’s Jack Della Maddalena.

Della Maddalena was scheduled to fight Warlley Alves, who was forced to withdraw. Della Maddalena boarded his round the world flight to begin fight week, knowing he didn’t have an opponent. The UFC brought in a young regional prospect in Pete Rodriguez, who until last night never seen outside of the first round in all his four professional wins.

Mr. Rodriguez got his true first gauge of Maddalena when he imitated cross cage for a touch of gloves, and the furrowed brow, nose painted across face Australian grimaced at the idea, shook his head and mouthed “no”.  War had begun before the first exchange of leather and sweat.

Jack came out in an orthodox stance to Rodriguez’s southpaw, taking the centre of the cage immediately. The pressure began before he threw a shot. Behind the primary boundary of the UFC octagon was to be Rodriguez’s new home, only being let out on visitation for Maddalena to reset. The first interesting read and adjustment comes at 4:37, Rodriguez throws a inside low kick from his back leg. Maddalena, yet to settle into his rhythm checked the kick and switched into southpaw himself.

The fantastic jab then started flowing, and like the River Jordan, eroded the rock of Rodriguez’s nose at a ferocious speed. Repeatedly Maddalena would punish the big swings, the low kicks or the false steps with that sticking southpaw jab. Maddalena would paw at the lead hand of his opponent, forcing a choice to be made, and counter that with his jab, and some excellent body work.

For his part, Rodriguez was there to fight. He threw the arsenal he had in his ammo belt at Maddalena. Body work, crescent kicks, big shots with bad intentions, but Maddalena was often too defensively sound. Rolling away with the shots, covering with elbow and glove, using the offbeats in combinations to counter with straight, hard, meaningful shots.

Just after a minute gone and the nose of the debutant was leaking, the fluid switching between stances confused Rodriguez, the river of jabs kept coming, and kept snapping back the head of the American. The blood was flowing as freely as the jabs halfway through the round, and Maddalena really began to pick up the pace.

The end came with two minutes left on the clock. A Maddalena pull back left sent Rodriguez to the canvas who turned away immediately, succumbing to the waves of pressure and the waves of blood filling his throat.

Maddalena is a fun addition to the bubbling underbelly of the welterweight division, there is work defensively to be done. But his shot selection, his footwork to pressure people to the fence, and the killer instinct to land damage is all there. A fun fighter with an interesting future.