UFC 290 has a distinctly downbeat flavor with the Las Vegas card featuring no less than five Australians and one New Zealander over the weekend.
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas.
Or, to be more precise, at least this week, “G’day, from Vegas,” because this week’s UFC 290 blockbuster in the fight capital of the world has a distinctly Australian flavor.
Five Australians and one New Zealander are set to enter the Octagon for this weekend’s pay-per-view card, with Alex Volkanovski defending his featherweight title in a title fight with Yair Rodriguez.
Former middleweight champion Rob Whittaker looks to earn a third fight with Israel Adesanya when he fights South African Dricus du Plessis.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Crute will take on Alonzo Menifield, Jack Della Maddalena has a last-minute opponent change, Shannon Ross will have his second UFC fight and New Zealand’s Dan Hooker takes on Jalin Turner in what’s scheduled for the UFC fight. the night. .
The six fighters that make up this week’s Anzac Takeover kicked off fight week with a photo op at the world famous ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign in blistering temperatures reaching 43 degrees in the afternoon sun.
UFC 290 | SUNDAY, JULY 9: Aussie Takeover in Las Vegas for one of the biggest fights of the year. UFC champion Alex Volkanovski takes on Yair Rodriguez and fan favorite Rob Whittaker returns to the Octagon. MAIN EVENT ORDER AT KAYO SPORTS >
The motley crew of fighters, trainers and managers took over the popular photo spot, mingling with tourists, autograph hunters who had followed them two miles from downtown and even a wedding party.
“Sometimes you have to be a tourist. I’ve been to Las Vegas so many times, but I’ve never actually seen the sign,” Volkanovski told this headline.
“It’s great that we’re all here on this massive card. It’s always a big event every year, and to have an unofficial takeover from our side of the world is great.
“It’s huge for Australia and New Zealand.”
The photo shoot almost didn’t happen for Della Maddalena.
Welterweight prospect Sean Brady’s original opponent retired just days ago with a severe staph infection in his elbow.
Della Maddalena, who has earned three Performance of the Night bonuses in his last three fights and has never been knocked out of the first round, called on anyone in the welterweight or middleweight divisions to step in at the last minute.
Being one of the most avoided fighters at 170lbs, it’s pretty hard to get ‘Giacomo’ fights at the best of times, let alone on just 10 days notice, so there weren’t many takers.
When the UFC submitted a short list of names, he said yes to all of them without even clicking their links to check their records.
“I’ve come a long way to not even have a fight,” the 14-2 fighter told this headline under the shadow of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on Monday afternoon (Las Vegas time).
“I was ready for whoever, man. The UFC was really good, they said they would get me a welterweight or middleweight fight, or they would sign someone new.
“That’s what they ended up doing.”
That unknown fighter, who will have his Rocky Balboa moment this weekend, is Josiah ‘Muscle Hamster’ Harrell, a 7-0 training partner of UFC veteran Matt Brown. Della had never heard of him, but she didn’t have to look far to discover images of Harrell.
Last month, video of Harrell taking down his opponent straight through the cage door went viral on social media.
However, that means nothing to Della Maddalena, who wants to get this over with quickly before turning around and taking on Brady in Sydney at UFC 293 in September.
“He’s 7-0, undefeated, so I’ll give him his first loss.
“I just have to keep the range. Sean Brady is a short guy, he avoids the grab if I can and tries to chip him. It’s a similar game plan to Brady.
“I’m glad to have an opponent, and I’m planning a fourth straight bonus.”