Aussie squad set for UFC takeover on bumper card

It’s been quite a while since Australia had its own UFC card, but this weekend in Singapore is as close to a home away from home as we’re going to get.

Perth’s Jack Della Maddalena headlines a card boasting a whopping four Australian fighters, and it could well have been five had Robert Whittaker’s scheduled bout not been delayed due to injury.

But Whittaker’s loss is Della Maddalena’s gain, as the 25-year-old has been promoted into a spot on the main pay-per-view card.

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Back in January, Della Maddalena burst onto the scene in impressive fashion, beating Pete Rodriguez via knockout in less than three minutes.

He was the 12th win of his professional career (two losses), and his first in the UFC.

“It’s not as far a trip which is a good thing – it’s literally five hours from Perth and the same time zone. So to be honest, the build up’s been a lot easier and we’ve been able to come out here a lot closer to the fight.”

Della Maddalena said the close proximity of the fight also meant that plenty of friends and family were coming along – and they won’t be the Australians in attendance, with a trio of other Australians also on the card.

Jake Matthews, Jacob Malkoun and Joshua Culibao will all fight on the card as well, in a solid contingent of down under fighters.

“Tomorrow we’re going to go out and do some media stuff as an Australian contingent, and there’s a lot of Australians in Singapore which is cool – so I’m expecting there to be quite a lot of our fans there.”

While the other three will fight on the preliminary card, Della Maddalena has been bumped up to pay-per-view status in just his second UFC fight.

“It’s super cool – but to be honest it doesn’t really change much in my mind at all. I’m there to get one job done and that’s to win the fight, but I’m proud of it.”

Across the octagon will be Russian veteran Ramazan Emeev, who definitely provides a bit of a styles clash with the Australian.

Emeev has had seven fights in the UFC and they’ve all gone to a judges’ decision, win or lose. In contrast, only one of the Australian’s 11 professional wins didn’t end prematurely.

“I think he’s good enough that he can just sort of hold out fights until the decision,” he said.

“They’re very close fights … I don’t think he’s necessarily a very dangerous fighter. He’s never been finished [in the UFC] and that’s definitely what I’ll be trying to do.”

And while the 25-year-old is aiming to make waves in the welterweight division, he says life as a whole hasn’t really changed much – save for one interaction with his beloved Fremantle Dockers.

“The sports nutritionist at the Dockers reached out a few months ago, before my last fight, and I was able to speak to the boys about nutrition and training.”

Whatever advice he gave helped, with the Dockers sitting pretty inside the AFL’s top four at the moment.

“I gave them the good kick up the butt they needed,” he laughed.

“But it was something that I never expected – they’re having a good year, which has been a minute – but I’ve stayed strong and it’ll come one day.

“It’s going to be pretty epic when they get that premiership, and maybe this is the year.”

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