Scouting The Best MMA Prospects From Australia & New Zealand

Cody Haddon MMA
Photo credit: Jasmin Frank

With the recent fall of Alexander Volkanovski, we’re going to highlight the MMA prospects from Australia/New Zealand that could one day carry the flag of either nation in the UFC. There are names still in the UFC like Jack Della Maddalena that could still win a title. Also, Steve Erceg, who is fighting for a title on UFC 301.

What talents are still out there, yet to be scooped up by the big show? Read on.

Featherweight, Justin Van Heerden (12-5):
Heerden is arguably leading the charge for the next group on the rise from the country he fights out of and represents. Heerden was born in South Africa but is based out of Australia and has fought there his entire career dating back to 2014. He’s been on a tear recently winning his last five and beating two guys he lost to in the past. There isn’t anything pretty about the style of Heerden but he’s got the sort of grit and endurance that breaks guys. His striking isn’t great but he crowds his opponents with volume and has deceptive power. Where you will see him at his best is using his wrestling/grappling. Heerden has a consistent workrate once he gets on the inside, winning position and just flat out being the busier fighter.

Bantamweight, Cody Haddon (6-1):
Haddon is a stud out of Australia whose only loss is to UFC title challenger Steve Erceg. It’s worth mentioning that he looked very good against Erceg and it was only his third pro fight. Haddon is as well-rounded as you want in an up-and-coming prospects. He has both solid wrestling and strong grappling. On the feet, he’s the full package. His vision, hand speed, bodywork, and volume all don’t go unnoticed. Haddon is the real deal and needs to be watched closely. Haddon is currently Australia’s best-kept secret.

Flyweight, Stewart Nicoll (8-0):
Nicoll doesn’t strike you as the typical flyweight; meaning a lot of movement and speed. He’s more planted and has a strong presence. Nicoll does at least have power in his right hand and the chopping leg kicks. He’s a strong wrestler and he has solid jiu-jitsu. Nicoll has dominant top control and is a big threat at getting a sub after landing a ton of ground and pound.

Flyweight, Anthony Drilich (7-1):
Drilich is another unassuming flyweight but he’s been getting it done in the cage. He’s won his last five fights and is the current Eternal MMA flyweight champion. Drilich isn’t great anywhere but is good everywhere. What he does have is crazy power for a 125er. He has the type of power in his left hand that is fight-changing. Drilich can really shut the lights out at any point as his power carries over all rounds as he is durable.