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EXCLUSIVE: First odds on UFC Sydney, Bisping vs. Rockhold

Thu, Sep 11, 11:32pm by Dominic Ciconte

UFC

The UFC returns to Australia in a big way.

THE UFC is coming back to Australia and AustralianGambling can exclusively bring to you the first odds for the bout down under.

The number five ranked middleweight Luke Rockhold and the division’s elder statesman, Michael Bisping will take centre stage in Sydney on November 8.

Sportsbet.com.au has Bisping at a juicy $3.66, but its spokesman, Will Byrne, told AustralianGambling.com.au that its UFC bookies think the Brit will have a tough time against Rockhold ($1.25).

“Rockhold will be looking to move back up the rankings and again become the number 1 contender for the title,” Sportsbet.com.au’s Will Byrne said.

“His ability to finish the fight should see him defeat the veteran.

“Bisping will be hoping he can replicate this golden form against his favoured opponent.”

But over at Sportingbet.com.au, spokesman Andrew Brown said the bookmaker was happy to risk Rockhold ($1.33), “despite his higher standing in the official UFC rankings (fifth compared to eighth).”

“Bisping ($3.25) is a real chance given his strong kickboxing background and high percentage of wins by TKO,” Brown told AustralianGambling.

What it all amounts to is a huge return to Sydney for some supreme cage fighting after a two year hiatus.

Perth monster Soa ‘The Hulk’ Palelei will face Poland’s Daniel Omielanczuk in a heavyweight bout, heading the other fights announced on the undercard.

Fight Night 55 definitely has an Aussie/Kiwi feel, with New Zealand’s Robert Whittaker taking on American Clint Hester, Hometown hero Anthony Perosh up against Brazil’s Guto Inocente. Fresh faced Melbourne fighter Jake Matthews has agreed to fight Brazilian veteran Vagner Rocha, New Zealand’s Dylan Andrews goes head-to-head with Milwaukee native Sam Alvey and Melbourne ‘Spartan’ Vik Grujic will battle Canadian Chris Clements.

No love lost

Put simply, these two men do not like each other.

Both have talked plenty of smack about each other in the past two years – Bisping calling himself the “unofficial Strikeforce champion” after sparring with Rockhold and the American biting back by calling the Brit a “douche”.

And that didn’t change at this morning’s press conference, Bisping launching with a massive sledge.

“I certainly don’t like guys that go out and molest tigers while they’re under the influence of tranquillisers,” Bisping said, referring to a picture Rockhold posted on his Instagram account two weeks ago.

Rockhold

The controversial picture that Besping criticised Rockhold over.

Rockhold says he is going to “go out there and embarrass this man”, saying the fight would be over in one round.

“I’m big on doing my homework, I study my opponents through and through,” Rockhold said.

“I see a lot of openings, and I know what I’m capable of. I know I can put him away. I just don’t see what he’s going to do to stop me.”

But Bisping laughed off the 29-year-old’s comments.

“We’ve heard this before,” Bisping said.

“Will you finish me in the first round? No. Will you finish me at all? No.”

Where the two men are at

Bisping improved to 25-6 after he pummelled ageing Vietnamese machine Cung Le with a TKO victory in the fourth round in August, putting him back on the winners’ list after he suffered a unanimous decision defeat at the hands of Tim Kennedy, last April. He hasn’t won consecutive fights in nearly three years.

Rockhold (12-2) won nine fights in a row before he fell to Victor Belfort in May last year. He’s bounced back with wins over Costas Philippou and Tim Boetsch (in April) and has had a little more rest than the Brit.

Why isn’t the fight in Melbourne?

Victorians like to call Melbourne the sporting capital of the world, but it has one notable omission – UFC.

The state has banned cage fighting and that means UFC has no choice but to give Melbourne a wide berth, despite estimates one event is worth up to $50 million.

UFC Australia managing director Tom Wright wants to see the ban lifted and the Labor Party agrees, vowing to change the law if elected in November.

“We believe very strongly it is a matter of when, not if,” Wright said at today’s press conference.

“We cannot understand any of the thinking.

“That professional mixed martial arts would be allowed in a boxing ring is not only unfair, it’s completely unsafe. I’m very confident we’ll get that through.”

A UFC press release announcing the Sydney event had Melbourne as a glaring absentee.

“Since 2010, the UFC has hosted five live events in Australia with each experiencing tremendous success,” it read.

“Collectively, the five events have seen more than 66,000 fans in attendance and millions worldwide watching on pay per view and broadcast television.

“The three host cities to date – Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane – have had a cumulative gross gate of more than $10 million and millions more in economic impact.

“Australia’s sixth live UFC event, and fourth in Sydney in as many years, returns to Allphones Arena, where the UFC has previously set ticket and merchandise sale records.”

For a full preview to the November bout, make sure you keep an eye on the AustralianGambling Sport Tips page for all the updates.

Our take

This archaic ban is a black mark on the sporting landscape in Victoria.

This is a professional sport, fought by men and women at the peak of their physical and mental powers.

Victoria allows boxing. It allows martial arts. In the traditional sense of the word, a cage covers the entire ring (or octagon). The UFC has cages around its octagon, but not over the top.

We’d like to know what the issue is?

Bad things can happen in the boxing ring. They can happen in a karate fight. They can happen in any physical battle between two men or women. Hell, they happen on the footy field, on the cricket pitch, anywhere we play sport.

UFC gun Mark Hunt says the Victorian Government is uneducated and has demanded the ban be lifted. We agree with him.

After all, if you want to label yourself the sporting capital of the world, you should be crawling over barbed wire to host one of the fastest growing sports in the world.


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