The Land of Oz hosts the UFC one final time in 2017 when former champion Fabricio Werdum faces up-and-coming contender Marcin Tybura.
The Octagon will be touching down in Australia for the final time in 2017 when Fabricio Werdum returns to take on up-and-comer Marcin Tybura in the main event of UFC Sydney. The Brazilian looks to continue his comeback after coming up short against Alistair Overeem while Tybura is in the midst of a three-fight win-streak and could break into the title picture with a victory.
Werdum’s last outing was against Walt Harris at UFC 216 where he needed just over a minute to complete an armbar with virtually no effort. The victory comes after he created headlines for his use of homophobic slurs in a media scrum against UFC lightweight Tony Ferguson. Werdum is claiming ignorance but the UFC saw fit to assign him community service for his comments. Werdum was supposed to fight the more well-known Derrick Lewis at UFC 216, however, Lewis was unable to compete due to fight night injury. Unfortunately for Werdum, his status as a veteran means that he’s already faced the best of the heavyweight division and the only new match-ups are against up-and-comers like Tybura.
The former heavyweight champion has only lost twice in the last six years: Once to Stipe Miocic in which he lost his title in 2016 and the second to Alistair Overeem this past July. He holds an impressive record, but “Vai Cavalo” has been fighting since 2002 and faced virtually every elite heavyweight in the world. Following two losses in the past two years, Werdum is now the odd man out in the round robin occurring at the top of the division. Fighters like Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos are inactive for various reasons, and Francis Ngannou will be facing Overeem in a title eliminator next month in December.
That leaves the pickings slim for Werdum who now faces the emerging Marcin Tybura who is coming off his biggest career victory. “Tybur” defeated an MMA pioneer in June when he took a decision over Andrei Arlovski. “The Pitbull” is one of the most well-known mixed martial artists in Europe, giving extra value for the 31-year-old Tybura.
The Polish heavyweight is currently ranked eighth in the division and is on a parallel course with Alexander Volkov to see which man will be first to break into the top five. In a unique situation, they benefit from the impressive reign of Miocic the past two years. With the exception of Francis Ngannou, Miocic has virtually cleaned out the elite of the division and will be seeking new talent sooner rather than later. With a victory over Werdum, Marcin Tybura could well find himself against a top three contender early next year to see who will get the next shot at the champion following the winner of Overeem & Ngannou.
In the co-main event, Ultimate Fighter Season 20 member Bec Rawlings looks to get back on track against promotional newcomer Jessica-Rose Clark. “Jessy Jess” replaces Joanne Calderwood on less than two weeks notice. Clark was preparing for her Invicta FC debut on December 8, but the Australian native now cuts her camp several weeks short to face Rawlings on their home turf.
“Rowdy” Bec has been on a tough skid, dropping fights to fan-favorites Paige VanZant and Tecia Torres. Rawlings is 2-3 in the UFC and is likely fighting for her spot on the roster as she has faced a higher level of competition than Clark. Rawlings is favored to win, but she’ll need to show that her past struggles have been a result of style mismatches rather than her skills.
The Land of Oz has produced plenty of memorable matches over the years. While the main event of UFC Sydney carries the star power, history has proven time and again that the undercard can sometimes provide the most electric contests. As the final trip Down Under for the UFC in 2017, you can expect plenty of fighters to make a statement going into the new year.