The UFC returned to the land down under for UFC Fight Night 65: Hunt vs. Miocic, which took place from the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Adelaide, South Australia. The event aired on Saturday, May 9 in North America (Sunday, May 10 locally).
In the night’s main event, recent heavyweight title challenger Mark Hunt took on Stipe Miocic. Both fighters were looking to get back in the win column after recent losses. The New Zealand native Hunt suffered a second-round TKO against Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180, while Miocic came up short on the scorecards in a five-round battle with former champion Junior dos Santos at UFC on Fox 13.
The co-main event featured a pair of The Ultimate Fighter veterans as Hawaiian Brad Tavares took on TUF: Smashes winner Robert Whittaker in a middleweight affair. Tavares returned to the win column at UFC 182 in January with a decision win over Nate Marquardt. Whittaker rode a two-fight winning streak and had won four of his six Octagon appearances.
The 12-fight event kicked off Saturday with eight preliminary card bouts streaming on UFC Fight Pass at 7:45 p.m. ET, with the four-fight main card airing live at 11 p.m. ET, also on UFC Fight Pass.
Heavyweight Stipe Miocic put together one of the most complete performances of his career, battering Mark Hunt throughout. Miocic was patient on the feet, mixing in knees and elbows to compliment his punches. Hunt was aggressive with his lead hook early, but once Miocic began to use his wrestling, Hunt faded badly. Miocic kept the fight on the mat from round two on, delivering a steady diet of punches to the Kiwi. Hunt’s face swelled badly and it appeared as if the referee would stop it in round three. Amazingly, it took until round five for the TKO finish to come, handing Miocic the victory.
It was another first-round finish when Robert Whittaker locked horns with Brad Tavares. Whittaker connected with a short left hook that rocked Tavares. Tavares tried to recover, but a second left hook from Whittaker buckled the knees of Tavares. A few follow-up shots put Tavares out for good.
Sean O’Connell made short work of veteran Anthony Perosh, scoring a TKO in less than a minute. O’Connell came forward with a flurry that backed Perosh against the fence. Perosh tried to great space, but O’Connell unleashed another barrage and the referee halted the bout.
James Vick stunned the Australian crowd and the previously unbeaten Jake Matthews, earning a first-round submission win. Matthews took control early with his hands and a huge slam. Vick never panicked and worked back to his feet. A knee from Vick wobbled Matthews and Vick locked onto his neck. The choke forced Matthews to drop to the mat and tap.
New Zealand featherweight Daniel Hooker became the first fighter to stop Hatsu Hioki with strikes, finishing the Japanese fighter with a head kick in round two. Hioki controlled the first round with his range, a late takedown and mount. Hooker was undeterred, delivering a massive left head kick in round two that sent Hioki crashing to the mat face first.
Australia’s Kyle Noke got back in the win column with a questionable split decision win over former training partner Jonavin Webb. The first frame was largely a feeling out process, but Webb earned a takedown that swung the round in his favor. Noke scored frequently in round two, operating from the top position, but got rocked late by Webb. Round three appeared to belong to Webb, but two of the judges at cageside gave it and the fight to Noke.
Middleweight Sam Alvey needed less than a minute to take out Dan Kelly via TKO. Alvey found a home for his lead right hook immediately, rocking Kelly. Once he smelled blood, he quickly went for the kill and forced the referee to intervene.
TUF 20 castmates Bec Rawlings and Lisa Ellis went to battle, with the Aussie Rawlings scoring a first-round submission win. Ellis earned a quick takedown but was overzealous with an armbar attempt. Rawlings moved to the top position, but the fight returned to standing. Rawlings landed big punches and hurt Ellis. She took the back of Ellis and sunk in a rear-naked choke.
England’s Brad Scott survived a tough first round and submitted Dylan Andrews in round two. The middleweights clinched early, but it was Andrews who scored with heavy shots. He dropped Scott twice in the opening stanza. Scott turned the tides in round two, hurting Andrews with elbows from the top position. He then locked on a guillotine choke and earned the win.
After getting beat up badly for the first two rounds, Australia’s Alex Chambers scored a huge comeback win, submitting Kailin Curran in the third stanza. Curran landed at will on the feet through the first two rounds, mixing in occasional takedowns. Chambers showed heart, attacking aggressively from her back in the third round. As Curran escaped a kimura attempt, Chambers transitioned to an armbar and coerced the tap.
In a battle of TUF: Nations teammates, Brendan O’Reilly edged fellow Aussie Vik Grujic by unanimous decision. O’Reilly used a trio of takedowns to capture the first round on the scorecards. Grujic bounced back in round two as the pair stood directly in front of one another and threw big shots. O’Reilly returned to his takedown game in the final round to lock up the win.
Newcomer Ben Nguyen didn’t show any Octagon jitters once the cage door shut, stopping Alptekin Ozkilic by TKO late in the first round. Nguyen scored early on the feet, but was taken to the mat by Ozkilic midway through the frame. One Nguyen worked back to his feet, he landed a big left hand that dropped Ozkilic and flurried for the finish.