Tue, Nov 22, 9:56am by Senior Writer
Twelve months ago, UFC 193 broke all records when 56,214 people came to watch one of the great UFC upsets when Holly Holm handed Ronda Rousey her first-ever career defeat at Melbourne’s Etihad’s Stadium.
The spectacularly successful event, which generated gate takings of nearly $10 million and an estimated $100 million in economic impact for Melbourne, removed all doubt about UFC’s position in the mainstream Australian sporting mindset.
The UFC returns to Melbourne this Sunday at Rod Laver Arena where the Fight Night card is highlighted by the match-up between Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson.
It was set to be the scene of the anticipated re-match between Luke Rockhold and Jacare Souza but Rockhold’s injury means that the two middleweights take centre stage in the five-round bout.
WATCH: Our Preview of UFC Fight Night – Melbourne
Whittaker is Australia’s No.1 ranked fighter but hasn’t featured since April when he defeated Brazilian Rafael Natal at UFC 197. He broke his hand in that fight but has targeted his first-ever headline bout in front of his Australian fans as his return for some time.
He is ranked No.7 in the middleweight division having won his past five bouts, and with another couple of victories will be in a position to fight current champion Englishman Michael Bisping.
Brunson has also won his past five fights, including a TKO first-round win over Uriah Hall at the Fight Night in Hidalgo, Texas in September.
The co-main headline is a lightweight battle between Jake Matthews and Andrew Holbrook.
Matthews, who hails from Melbourne, is 10-2 in his career having lost his most recent bout to Kevin Lee in July in Las Vegas. However, he has fought on five UFC undercards in Australia/New Zealand and won them all.
Robert Whittaker vs. Derek Brunson
Andrew Holbrook vs. Jake Matthews
Omari Akhmedov vs. Kyle Noke
Yusuke Kasuya vs. Alex Volkanovski
Khalil Rountree vs. Tyson Pedro
Seo Hee Ham vs. Danielle Taylor
Preliminary Card (Bout order TBD)
Chris Camozzi vs. Dan Kelly
Ben Nguyen vs. Geane Herrera
Richard Walsh vs. Jonathan Meunier
Marlon Vera vs. Ning Guangyou
Dan Hooker vs. Jason Knight
Damien Brown vs. Jon Tuck
Yao Zhikui vs. Jenel Lausa
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