The Australian takeover of UFC 275 was almost complete, as three of the four Aussies competing on the card got their hand raised.
Jack Della Maddalena, Jake Matthews and Josh Culibao all tasted the sweet success of victory on front of a crowd firmly on their side, but Jacob Malkoun unfortunately couldn’t join the winner’s circle after losing to American Brendan Allen via unanimous decision.
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Della Maddalena and Matthews both stopped their opponents, while Culibao enjoyed a victory via split decision.
Malkoun was the first cab off the rank against Allen and despite taking down his opponent seven times, the judges felt he didn’t do enough and handed the American the win.
The Aussie was visibly disappointed after the fight and so too was Rob Whittaker, a long-time training partner of Malkoun.
Whittaker was pictured consoling Malkoun as both shook their heads in disbelief at the result.
Culibao was the second Aussie to step in the octagon as he took on Seung-Woo Choi in a featherweight bout.
After a measured, defensive-minded start to the first round, the fight exploded into life when Culibao caught Choi with a pair of brutal left hands that rocked his opponent and sent him stumbling away.
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Culibao poured on the pressure and rained down blows as his opponent became stuck against the fence. The fight appeared all-but-over, but turned on its head as Choi came firing back, swinging wildly – and connecting – and sending the Australian back-pedalling desperately to get out of range.
Culibao again knocked down his rival in the second round, but Choi again managed to regain his feet and fire back. And, having copped plenty of damage himself, Culibao delivered a stiff right hand that caught Choi flush and left his nose pouring blood.
But Culibao was taken down in the third, with Choi attempting a rear naked choke.
The Australian, who had never been submitted, defended desperately and managed to scramble back to his feet as both fighters finished with a flurry of punches.
“What a tremendous fight by both guys,” UFC legend Daniel Cormier said in commentary.
Della Maddalena was next to step in the cage against Dagestani Ramazan Emeev in what was the first fight of the main card.
Emeev was on the brink of a submission win after dragging the Australian to the canvas, but a gutsy and skilful defence saw Della Maddalena escape.
With the fighters back on their feet, the Australian unleashed a vicious barrage of punches, with two left-handed body shots sending Emeev crumpling to his knees.
It wasn’t long before the referee stepped in to stop the demolition.
Asked how quickly he wants to return, the Perth-based fighter roared: “If anyone pulls out tonight, I’m ready to go!”
His record moves to 12-2 including two wins from two UFC bouts, with 10 of his wins by knockout.
It was then down to Jake Matthews to close the show for the Australian portion of the card and he certainly produced a showstopping performance against Andre Fialho.
Both men’s intentions were clear early in the fight, as the pair looked content to throw huge punches.
However, it was Matthews who got the better of the exchanges.
The 27-year-old pummeled his Portuguese foe without much being thrown in return.
Matthews eventually knocked Fialho out in the second round in what was one of his most impressive performances to date.