For just the third time in the organization’s history, the UFC returns to Auckland, New Zealand, this Saturday.
The event is to be headlined by a pair of lightweights looking to extend their current win streaks and break into the top five of the stacked division.
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In the co-main event of the evening, a light heavyweight bout that’ll see a pair of combatants that were being pegged as the future of the division attempting to bounce back from their first promotional losses.
More on the marquee bouts below.
UFC Auckland Fight Card
Main Card – 7 PM ET on ESPN+
- Paul Felder vs. Dan Hooker
- Jimmy Crute vs. Michael Oleksiejczuk
- Ben Sosoli vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Yao Xiaonan
- Magomed Mustafaev vs. Brad Riddell
- Kevin Aguilar vs. Zubaira Tukhugov
Preliminary Card – 4 PM ET on ESPN+
- Jake Matthews vs. Emil Weber Meek
- Callan Potter vs. Song Kenan
- Kai Kara-France vs. Tyson Nam
- Maki Pitolo vs. Takashi Sato
- Angela Hill vs. Loma Lookboonmee
- Jalin Turner vs. Joshua Culibao
- Priscila Cachoeira vs. Shana Dobson
Paul Felder vs. Dan Hooker
Paul Felder (17-4) was last seen in action at UFC 242 when he avenged one of his four losses in a rematch with Edson Barboza. The outcome was a bit controversial with many fans and media scoring the bout for Barboza. Regardless of the scores, Felder picked up a victory over dangerous striker and extended his winning streak to two.
“The Irish Dragon” also took a unanimous decision over James Vick in February of last year to put him at a solid 2-0 for in 2019. In the past three years, Felder has gone 5-1 with his lone loss coming from a short-notice fight up a weight class against Mike “Platinum” Perry.
Across the cage from Felder will be Dan Hooker (19-8). “The Hangman” won a lopsided decision against Al Iaquinta and starched the aforementioned James Vick in the first round back in July to finish out 2019 at 2-0 and move to 6-1 in his last 7 fights. The New Zealander has been open about his dislike for the way Felder has promoted the match and will no doubt be looking to make a statement in front of his countrymen.
Dan Hooker currently sits as a -145 favorite, while Paul Felder is a slight underdog at +125.
Jimmy Crute vs. Michael Oleksiejczuk
Australia’s Jimmy Crute (10-1) will be looking to bounce back from his first professional loss this weekend. The former Hex Fight Series light heavyweight champion caught the eyes of fans internationally after an impressive showing on Dana White’s Contender Series. In his promotional debut with the UFC, Crute submitted a man known for his own slippery ground game in Paul Craig.
His next outing saw “The Brute” TKO 40+ fight veteran Sam Alvey. Crute then looked to break into the rankings when he met Misha Cirkunov in September. After some wild grappling exchanges, Crute would find himself tapping to a submission of the year contender after Cirkunov locked up a Peruvian necktie.
“Lord” Michal Oleksiejczuk (14-3) also lost his last contest via a rare choke when Ovince St. Preux sunk his patented Von Flue on the Polish fighter at UFC Copenhagen. Oleksiejczuk made his UFC debut in 2017 and was suspended after beating Khalil Rountree Jr. due to a failed post-fight drug test.
Oleksiejczuk returned from the suspension with a vengeance and knocked out Gian Villante and Gadzhimurad Antigulov before running into St. Preux.
With Oleksiejczuk and Crute both being under 25-years-old, both men still have plenty of time to learn from their mistakes and make necessary adjustments.
Oddsmakers have Michal Oleksiejczuk as -140 favorite and Jimmy Crute at +120 at the time of writing.
Brandon is a long-time fan of combat sports who has covered them for various outlets since 2017.