This Saturday night, the UFC returns to the Toyota Center in Houston, TX for UFC 271. In the evening’s main event, reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defends his title against Robert Whittaker.
Before we get to the main event of the evening, we take a look at the fighters who step into UFC 271 with an undefeated record.
Mike ‘Blood Diamond’ Mathetha
Best known as ‘Blood Diamond’ in the combat sports community, Mike Mathetha (3-0-0, 0-0-0 UFC) makes his Octagon debut this Saturday at UFC 271. He faces Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1, 1-0 UFC) who will be looking to quiet the hype surrounding Mathetha’s promotional debut.
‘Diamond’ is a product of City Kickboxing out of Auckland, New Zealand, the same gym that Israel Adesanya calls home. ‘Diamond’ is a two-time King of the Ring champion and has been making waves for years in regional kickboxing. Now he is shifting focus to full-time mixed martial arts.
‘Diamond’ has made three MMA appearances for promotions in New Zealand and Australia. Victorious in all three outings, Mathetha earned a knockout, a submission, and a unanimous decision. This Saturday, he will have the opportunity to showcase his skills on MMA’s biggest stage.
After a successful appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series in September, AJ Dobson (6-0-0, 0-0-0 UFC) makes his promotional debut this Saturday against Jacob Malkoun.
Starting his career as an amatuer, Dobson went 5-1 before turning pro in 2016. Since then, Dobson has earned six straight victories including his Contender Series success. In all, Dobson has five finishes in six bouts including three knockouts and two by way of submission.
Representing Carlson Gracie Team Ohio, Dobson will have his work cut out for him in his official UFC debut when he steps in against Malkoun. Winner in five out of six professional bouts, three via knockout, Malkoun hopes to make it two straight against the debutant.
‘King’ Casey O’Neill
Fighting out of Queensland, Australia, ‘King’ Casey O’Neill (8-0, 3-0 UFC) has looked undeniably impressive in her three UFC bouts.
In O’Neill’s promotional debut, she defeated Shana Dobson via TKO. Four months later she returned and put Laura Procopio to sleep with a rear-naked choke in round three. What is especially impressive is that Procopio herself is a jiu-jitsu black belt. “I was just stoked to choke out a blackbelt,” Casey said in her post-fight interview with Michael Bisping.
Following her dominant performance against Procopio, O’Neill suggested that the best is yet to come. “If you give me three months and people think I’m a problem now, just wait until you see what comes back in December,” O’Neill said following her win over Procopio in June.
Luckily we didn’t have to wait until December. O’Neill returned to the cage in October and earned her fourth straight finish against Antonina Shevchenko, sister to current flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
In her defeat of the elder Shevchenko, O’Neill earned a 50k performance of the night bonus and the hype train officially left the station.
This Saturday she faces women’s MMA icon Roxanne Modafferi. After nearly 20 years in combat sports, ‘The Happy Warrior’ will take the walk for the final time against, arguably, one of the toughest tests of her career.
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images