The UFC will be making its third appearance on Australian soil on March 3 – March 2 in the U.S. – with UFC on FX 2. The event will take place at the Allphones Arena in Sydney, and the undercard will be broadcast on both Fuel TV and Facebook. It appears as if the promotion will be making an annual stop in the Land Down Under; however, this event will be the first non-pay-per-view card to date.

The preliminary card portion of the event features a wide array of fighters, some making their promotional debuts, whereas others will be fighting for their jobs. Making sure to appease the local crowd, the UFC made sure to include a number of Australian fighters. Former Crocodile Hunter bodyguard and Ultimate Fighter alum Kyle Noke appears in a middleweight bout with newcomer Andrew Craig, while light heavyweight veterans Anthony Perosh and James Te Huna also clash on the card.

A single heavyweight bout between Shawn Jordan and Oli Thompson will stream live on Facebook at 5:30 p.m ET, with the remaining six bouts airing on Fuel TV beginning at 6 p.m. ET. A four-fight main card follows on FX at 9 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Brian McKenna, Chase Buzzell and Rob Tatum share their opinions on the entire preliminary card lineup in this edition of the Round Table.

HW: Shawn Jordan (12-3) vs. Oli Thompson (9-2)

McKenna: The opening fight Down Under will be a heavyweight scrap between two fighters who will enter the Octagon for the first time. Shawn Jordan has experience fighting on the national level with Bellator and Strikeforce, and posted a 4-2 combined record through the two promotions.

His opponent, Oli Thompson, will be fighting for the first time outside of his homeland of England, but he has acquired a solid record while fighting on the island. In his last two fights, Thompson won and defended the Ultimate Challenge MMA heavyweight championship, both times winning by rear-naked choke.

But what stands out here to me is that the two losses in his career have come in fights with Rob Broughton and Joe Vedepo, who are both UFC veterans. It makes it hard to pick a guy who doesn’t rise up against the competition and defeat solid fighters, but rather picks apart fighters who should be easily handled. Mix that in with the fact that “The Savage” took down Lavar Johnson in his last fight, and my decision is made up rather easily. Jordan by first-round TKO.

Buzzell: Shawn Jordan is a beast. Athletic, powerful and surprisingly quick for a heavyweight, “The Savage” has top-end talent, but still needs some grooming. Jordan needs to continue to polish his stand-up game, namely his technical skills. For now, he can continue to rely on his natural tools, especially the power he possesses in his heavy hands. On the ground, Jordan is ahead of the curve, he has an explosive double-leg takedown and can power through his opponent’s guard to unleash devastating ground-and-pound. He was a highly-touted football player and wrestler coming out of high school; however, he chose to attend LSU, which did not have a good wrestling program. Thus, Jordan quit wrestling and focused on football, lettering all four years. After being undrafted, Jordan turned to MMA where his wrestling background and athleticism have paid enormous dividends.

Thompson has impressed when going against less than formidable opponents, but when given the chance to earn a landmark win, Thompson has disappointed. He also competes in strongman competitions and currently holds the title of Britain’s Strongest Man. Unfortunately for Thompson, MMA is more than brute strength, and Thompson still has to refine his game if he wants to enjoy long-term success. Thompson recently joined the Wolfslair MMA Academy, which should help with his improvement.

The sheer size and strength of Thompson could serve as reasons for him pulling off an upset over Jordan, but Jordan has seen size and strength while playing fullback in the SEC, thus he shouldn’t be fazed. Jordan has too much talent and his game is more developed than Thompson. Jordan, second-round KO.

Tatum: I think both of my colleagues have nailed this fight on the head. Thompson’s inability to capitalize in the past is a big concern against the athletic Jordan. Although Jordan abandoned his wrestling career, as Chase mentioned, he is still the more accomplished grappler of the two fighters. With that said, I wouldn’t expect this fight to see the ground.

Thompson’s brute strength is certainly the wildcard in this fight; the more muscle a fighter has, the more oxygen he needs. The longer this fight goes, the more it favors Jordan.

Couple all of that with Jordan’s speed advantage, and the Strikeforce veteran should have no problem scoring an impressive knockout in his Octagon debut.

FW: Mackens Semerzier (6-3) vs. Daniel Pineda (16-7)

Buzzell: Mackens “Da Menace” Semerzier is another import from the WEC after the UFC acquisition. At first, he may have been a surprise addition to the UFC roster due to three consecutive losses in the WEC prior to the merger. However, when given the opportunity, Semerzier capitalized with a win over Alex Caceres. Semerzier is not the most gifted fighter on the feet, but on the ground he is a force to be reckoned with, evidenced by his submission win via a triangle choke over the highly-touted Wagnney Fabiano, which earned him an “upset of the year” award issued by Sherdog.

Daniel “The Pit” Pineda will bring talent and excitement to the Octagon in his second UFC appearance. Pineda’s record is not overally impressive with seven losses; however, absent a four-fight losing streak and given the modest quality of opponents faced, Pineda’s record stacks up nicely against other foes in the division. He has never been to a judges’ decision, so one can surmise the fight will end in an exciting fashion whether or not Pineda is victorious.

Mackens Semerzier (L) battles Robert Peralta (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

I believe Pineda has a lot of upside, even at age 26, but Semerzier has shown flashes of brilliance and I feel he will be motivated to ensure his tenure with the UFC. Semerzier by submission, first round.

Tatum: This featherweight match-up was supposed to be a rematch of Semerzier’s bout with Robert Peralta from UFC on Fox 1, but Peralta was forced out due to injury. In his place steps Pineda, who once again fights in the UFC on short notice. Pineda is riding a six-fight winning streak that includes a submission win over Pat Schilling in his last bout.

Semerzier was expected to face Peralta again after a nasty head butt knocked out Semerzier in their previous meeting. Armed with a slick ground game, the Team Curran product has secured five of his six wins by submission.

Similarly, Pineda has a strong grappling prowess, evidenced by his 10 submission victories. However, as mentioned previously by Chase, a number of losses on his resume are reason for concern. His best chance at victory lies on the feet, where he will have the advantage.

Based on Semerzier’s past performances in both the UFC and WEC, I expect him to have little trouble neutralizing Pineda’s striking. Once the fight is on the ground, Semerzier will show that his ground game is on another level, scoring a textbook rear-naked choke victory.

McKenna: Yeah, I have to agree with Rob and Chase here and go with Semerzier by submission in this one. But one thing that I often say about fighters like Daniel Pineda is that I like guys who fight often. I said it about Donald Cerrone, too. Guys who don’t sustain an injury and have a quick turnaround to another fight are fighters that I will always be able to respect. Sure, Pineda is stepping into this fight on relatively short notice, but he fought towards the end of January and just over a month later will be doing it all over again.

But at the end of the day, Semerzier will be too much on the ground. Sure, Pineda has 10 submission victories of his own, but seeing that he has tapped six times doesn’t look very good when squaring off against “Da Menace.” The only chance that Pineda has in this fight is keeping it standing and trying to knock his opponent’s block off, but ultimately I don’t see that happening. This one doesn’t make it to the third round.

WW: TJ Waldburger (14-6) vs. Jake Hecht (11-2)

Tatum: In a 170-pound clash, TJ Waldburger and Jake Hecht will look to use each other as a stepping stone toward the next tier of opponents. Both fighters come from grappling backgrounds, with Waldburger possessing high-level jiu-jitsu and Hecht having a strong wrestling base.

Waldburger has won two of three inside the Octagon, and five of his last six overall. The lone loss over that stretch came to rising contender Johny Hendricks. The grappling ace has secured 11 of his 14 wins by submission.

Hecht will make the second UFC appearance after stepping up on late notice against Rich Attonito at UFC 140. He overwhelmed the TUF veteran with strikes, stretching his winning streak to four.

It will be interesting to see how this fight plays out, but the fact that Waldburger has been knocked out in five of his six career losses leads me to believe that his chin will fail him yet again. Look for Hecht to finish this one in the second round with ground-and-pound.

McKenna: Although Attonito is a fighter who sits near the middle of the welterweight division rankings, a late-notice victory over him in Jake Hecht’s UFC debut really caused Hecht to stand out in my book. He came in as a relative unknown, having not fought in any major American promotions leading up to the fight, and landed a vicious elbow, which ultimately lead to the victory, while his back was against the fence. Mind you, that elbow came after he had likely lost the first round, yet the “Hitman” impressed me a lot in that fight.

On the other hand, you have veteran TJ Waldburger who, as Rob mentioned, has gone 2-1 in his time in the UFC with the lone loss coming to Hendricks. That loss came by way of TKO after Hendricks overwhelmed him, and the two victories were over Mike Stumpf and David Mitchell. Both Stumpf and Mitchell are a combined 0-3 in the Octagon, which impresses nobody.

The way I leaned on Oli Thompson earlier is the same way I have to lean on Waldburger here. He just hasn’t done anything significant against stiff competition in his career, and ball that into how Hecht came back from losing the first round to win in his UFC debut on a short training camp, and I have to go with Hecht in this fight. To piggyback on Rob, Hecht will earn another TKO in the second round.

Buzzell: As Rob has suggested, both of these fighters will be looking to use the other as a stepping stone. Each fighter made a name for themselves on the regional circuit before stepping into the Octagon, and they will both look to continue their success.

Waldburger is a very good grappler and holds a win over UFC vet Pete Spratt, but then turned around and lost a rematch to Spratt via knockout. Every other time Waldburger has faced a top name in the game he has disappointed, namely losing to Josh Neer and Johny Hendricks. There is no question that, if given the chance, Waldburger can submit his opponent; unfortunately, Waldburger has a glass jaw and does not often give himself a chance to tapout his opponent.

Jake Hecht is also a solid grappler who is looking to build on his UFC success with a second straight win in the Octagon. Hecht has, for the most part, evenly distributed wins between (T)KOs and submission, but has not faced the talent that Waldburger has seen.

In a sport were two opponents enter the ring and throw strikes at one another, I cannot trust a fighter that has shown a weak chin. I have Hecht catching Waldburger in the second round, resulting in a KO.

MW: Kyle Noke (19-5-1) vs. Andrew Craig (6-0)

Buzzell: The Australian Kyle Noke is aptly nicknamed “KO,” as his preferred method of punishment is striking, despite the fact that Noke holds more wins by submission than (T)KO. Truthfully, four of Noke’s submission have come via rear-naked choke, which is usually the result of Noke gaining top position, laying down some haymakers, eventually taking the back of his opponent and submitting him. This is not to say that Noke does not possess a ground game. Noke has also submitted opponents with a kneebar and triangle. However, such wins came against lesser opponents earlier in Noke’s career. More than likely, Noke will look to utilize his more refined stand-up game to impose his will on his opponent.

Andrew Craig will be making his UFC debut, but has impressed on the regional circuit. As far as the level of opponent Craig has faced on the regional circuit, they have been solid competition. But the regional circuit and the UFC are two different worlds. Recently, Craig beat WEC and Bellator veteran Eric Schambari, but suffered a broken hand in the contest. Now healed, Craig will be looking to employ the BJJ skills acquired by his cousin and trainer, BJJ artist Travis Tooke.

Noke is no joke and has done well for himself fighting mostly in the Land Down Under, amassing a considerable amount of experience. Craig, on the other hand, has limited experience and has never fought on a big stage. Normally, I would pick the more experienced, ring-savvy competitor that has seen a higher level of competition, but I have a feeling about Andrew Craig. I have Craig winning via submission in the third round.

McKenna: I feel like a broken record, and for that I apologize. I don’t want to make it sound like underdogs don’t ever have a chance in a fight, but I see no way that Craig can win this fight. While boasting an undefeated record of 6-0 and having one of those victories happen with Bellator, the kid has never fought outside of the southern United States and has never fought anyone near the level of Kyle Noke.

I just look at all of the factors in this fight and have to take Noke. He is originally from Australia and will be comfortable while he is there. He trains at one of the best camps in the U.S. with Jackson’s MMA. He has three victories in the UFC and is coming off of his first loss in the Octagon, which is always intriguing for me because typically fighters come back stronger after a loss like that. And, to top it all off, Noke is a southpaw, and for the most part southpaws throw off a lot of fighters. With all of this in mind, Noke will live up to his nickname and earn another “KO” in the first round.

Tatum: With the swing vote, I’m going to have to side with Brian on this fight. I don’t feel that Craig has enough experience to hang with Noke.

Noke’s submission loss to Ed Herman is a bit concerning when stepping into the cage against a grappling specialist like Craig, but I would not expect a repeat performance from the TUF alum. He will have a significant edge while standing and will utilize that to overwhelm Craig.

For Craig to keep his undefeated record intact, he will have to find a miracle submission. There are a ton of factors going against him, as both of my fellow writers have acknowledged. The travel, the big stage and Noke’s home-field advantage are simply going to be too much.

Noke by second-round TKO from ground-and-pound.

FW: Cole Miller (18-5) vs. Steven Siler (19-9)

McKenna: Cole Miller will be fighting for the first time at featherweight in the Octagon, which poses an interesting backdrop for this fight. While he has a solid promotional record at 7-3, he always looked like he was a small lightweight, in my opinion. He may have been one of the fighters who was on the brink of dropping down to featherweight for a while, but wanted to stay with the UFC rather than move over to the WEC because of the payday and the big name you get from fighting with the bigger promotion.

An interesting side note that comes with the weight class move is that Miller has only one victory in the UFC by knockout and has lost by knockout twice in the promotion. I wonder how those numbers would be had the featherweight division been a part of the UFC earlier. Those numbers are definitely a little off, based on the fact that “Magrinho” has 13 career submission victories and has won each of his last five fights by submission, but I wonder how the power aspect to his game would be affected if he had always been a 145-er.

Across the cage from Miller will be another TUF veteran, Steven Siler. Siler participated in the most recent version of the show and was a member of Team Miller. Throughout his career on the minor circuit of professional MMA, Siler has been great, accumulating 12 submission victories. But also in that time, he lost by submission five times and was knocked out four times. I feel as though “Super” just doesn’t have the guns in this particular fight.

Cole Miller (via Facebook)

The only road block in this fight for Miller is that he is in a new weight class, but the fact that he was already a small lightweight and it is only 10 more pounds tells me that it shouldn’t be much of an issue. While I see Miller being able to end the fight however he sees fit, he will likely make Siler tap the mat for the sixth time in his career. What will be interesting to watch for is how the power behind Miller’s striking at 145 pounds will play out.

Tatum: Brian forgot one key aspect of this fight: Miller is out for revenge. After all, it was Siler that eliminated his brother Micah from the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter. Another key factor in this bout will be Miller’s length. At 6-foot-1, he was one of the taller lightweights, and with the drop to featherweight, this will only further help him in the cage.

Over the past four years, Siler has really turned his career around, stringing together an impressive 14-2 run throughout the regional circuit. The one thing that concerns me is a triangle choke loss to Cole Escovedo, a fighter with a very similar build and skill set to Miller.

Siler’s UFC debut was impressive, as he neutralized wrestler Josh Clopton, but his chance at submitting a high-level grappler like Miller is minimal at best. He took advantage of his length against Clopton, but again that should be a non-factor against the taller Miller.

I’ll echo Brian’s prediction, as Miller taps Siler with a nasty armbar in the opening frame.

Buzzell: Miller is unusually tall for this weight class, which provides a significant reach advantage against most opponents. But at the same time, Miller continually gives up ground in the strength category; however, this may be slightly different since Miller is moving down to featherweight. Miller compensates for the lack of strength by having excellent conditioning and an ability to fight standing or off of his back. For being over six feet tall, Miller is very flexible, which allows him to work from a variety of guards. Using an open guard or butterfly guard, Miller has the ability to quickly turn a defensive position into an offensive submission attempt. And as Rob stated, Miller may have extra motivation, considering that his brother Micah lost to Siler.

Siler has nine losses to his name, which may provide the impression that he is not a competent fighter, but many of those losses came early in his career. Moreover, even though Siler is making only his second appearance in the UFC, he has fought some decent competition. Siler has a vicious guillotine and has also relied on a rear-naked choke, but beyond that he has not shown much of a submission game.

Siler seems like a solid competitor, but I do not believe he is on the same level as Miller, even with Miller’s shortcomings. The extra motivation that may come from attempting to avenge Micah’s loss will propel Miller to take care of business. Miller, submission, second round.

LHW: Anthony Perosh (12-6) vs. Nick Penner (11-1)

Tatum: In a light heavyweight affair, Anthony Perosh will once again fight on his home soil, this time against debuting Canadian Nick Penner. Both fighters have competed in the heavyweight division in the careers, but both are more suited for the 205-pound class.

Perosh will look to make it three straight wins since dropping down from heavyweight. The cagey veteran has made the most of his second stint with the promotion, finishing Tom Blackledge and Cyrille Diabate with his strong grappling skills.

Although Penner’s record may look impressive at first glance, he hasn’t exactly fought the toughest competition. Even diehard fans may not recognize the majority of the names on his resume. The fact that his only career loss is to Jimmy Ambriz doesn’t instill confidence in his skill set.

Penner may be a well-rounded fighter, but he’s going to be in for a rough night against Perosh. The Aussie will yet again thrill the hometown crowd by securing a first-round rear-naked choke finish.

Buzzell: Anthony Perosh is nicknamed “The Hippo” due to his heavy top position style. A black belt in BJJ, Perosh trains with business partner and UFC veteran Elvis Sinosic. This is Perosh’s fourth fight in his second go-around with the UFC, after being cut back in 2006. Meaning, despite his age of 39, he is getting better and will look to climb the light heavyweight ladder against Nick Penner.

Penner has done a good job of showing versatility in his game by evenly distributing wins by submissions, striking and decisions. As Rob alluded to, Penner has not fought the toughest competition. Of Penner’s 12 career contests, only two have been outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, not exactly known for being a hot-bed of talent.

Simply due to not knowing much about Penner, and his lack of experience beyond his hometown city of Edmonton, I am picking Perosh to win via submission in the second round.

McKenna: I am on board with Rob and Chase on this one.  Penner appears as though he could be something in a couple of years if he is able to jump to a top camp somewhere, but something tells me as long as he is where he is, he won’t be very successful. Sure, his opponent Anthony Perosh doesn’t train in a top MMA gym either, but the level of experience that Perosh has on the newcomer is unheard of. Not only that, Chase hit the nail on the head by stating how Penner has only fought in Alberta, Canada. Sure, most of “The Hippo’s” fights have taken place in Australia, but this fight coincidentally enough happens to be in Australia.

Penner has an opportunity to do something big here and be a great story, but I don’t think it is in the cards. I, too, think that Perosh will pull off the submission sometime in the first or second round.

LHW: James Te Huna (13-5) vs. Aaron Rosa (17-4)

McKenna: Aaron Rosa will take place in his second fight at light heavyweight with the UFC as he takes on James Te Huna to wrap up the Fuel TV portion of the card.  Although a loss to Joey Beltran in his promotional debut prompted the Texan to drop to 205, he has fought several times at that weight class before during his time with Strikeforce and Bellator and had been relatively successful, going 3-1. At light heavyweight, the only time that Rosa has been defeated was by the hands of Rafael Cavalcante, who would later go on to win the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship.

James Te Huna will be entering the cage with the home crowd behind him. Sure, the fights take place in Australia and Te Huna hails from New Zealand, but it is close enough to feel like home for him, especially considering he trains out of Sydney. Te Huna likes to use his fists to stop fights rather than roll around and grapple, and that is apparent because in his two victories with the UFC, the end has come by TKO and KO. I don’t think that he will shy away from trying to keep the fight standing as he has never been knocked out and his opponent has been, twice before.

Aaron Rosa (R) battles Matt Lucas (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

I see this fight being fairly even in most aspects, but the fact that the crowd will be rooting heavily in favor of Te Huna and that the fight is basically in his backyard will give him the advantage. It is easier to cut weight on your own turf, let alone be able to sleep in your own bed. Te Huna will take the decision in this fight.

Buzzell: Rosa has fought in a myriad of organizations before finally making his way to the UFC. Previously fighting for Elite XC, Strikeforce and Bellator, “Big Red” has shown great patience and composure on his feet. Although he is not afraid to let his hands go and exchange with his opponent, he does so in a calm, calculated manner, displaying a good jab and cross. Rosa is a part of Team Punishment, which is probably a strategic alliance to shore up his grappling and BJJ, which lags behind his striking ability.

Te Huna was the first New Zealander to step into the cage and has done well for himself, going 2 – 1 in three bouts. Of Te Huna’s five losses, two have been a result of a disqualification and a shoulder injury, respectively. Thus, erase those abberations and Te Huna’s record looks even more impressive. Also, Te Huna took care of fellow fight-card combatant Anthony Perosh with a first-round knockout. Te Huna likes to bang and he is good at it. Displaying tremendous power, Te Huna likes to unload on his opponents early and often, evidenced by six first-round wins. However, of Te Huna’s five losses, all have come in the first round; it seems to be feast or famine with Te Huna.

I believe Te Huna has the potential to be a top conteder in the light heavyweight division, but until he can show that his wins are not a flash in the pan resulting from him landing a knockout punch before he is disposed of, my money is on the cerebal Aaron Rosa. I have Rosa surprising Te Huna after Te Huna’s initial onslaught, with a knockout punch of his own in the first round.

Tatum: Once again, I’m left to make the final call on a fight. Ultimately, this bout comes down to Te Huna’s athleticism versus Rosa’s ability to take a punch. The Kiwi has shown explosive power in each of his UFC appearances, whereas Rosa has taken down a number of heavy-handed fighters with his well-rounded attack.

If Rosa can withstand Te Huna’s early flurries, then it is likely that Rosa can steal this one on the judges’ scorecards. However, I fully expect Te Huna to add to his knockout total, with a violent finish just moments into the fight.

Top Photo: Kyle Noke during the UFC 127 trip to Australia (Esther Lin/Heavy MMA)

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