Ultimate Fighting Championship makes its debut in Western Australia on Sunday February 11, 2018. The pay-per-view event held at Perth Arena is expected to feature some of the best local and international talent, as well as the “star power”. Moreover, the program at UFC Perth is promised to include the title challenge, perhaps not event one.
Following last weekend’s Fight Night 121 in Sydney, UFC vice president of international content David Shaw said that the Australian pride, Robert Whittaker “is ready to go”. Headlining the show, New Zealand-born interim middleweight champion Whittaker is in hopes to face MMA great out of Canada, a newly crowned middleweight champion, Georges St-Pierre in the championship unification.
“Our hope is to have Robbie there,” said Shaw. “We just don’t know the circumstances with Georges St-Pierre, the current middleweight champion, what we’re actually going to make happen.”
“There’s a lot of things that come into play. One is how Georges is doing physically. We know Robbie is ready to go, it’s just a matter of Georges.”
After claiming the middleweight strap from England’s Michael Bisping at UFC 217 earlier this month, GSP has announced that he was “going on vacation to forget about fighting, to not think about it. Nevertheless he has has confirmed that according to his contract with UFC, Whittaker is his next opponent.
“So we’ve been speaking to him [GSP], trying to figure out what the plan is,” said Shaw. “But our number one priority is to make sure the card is appropriate for the Australian fan base, because Australian fans deserve this card after so much time with us not being able to have events in Victoria and in Western Australia.”
Two bouts presented on UFC 221 fight card have been revealed. The flyweight representative of the country-host Ben Nguyen faces Brazilian Jussier Formiga. Australian light heavyweight Tyson Pedro takes on Russian Saparbek Safarov.
“There’s going to be a championship. There might be more than one.”
“Every time we come we know there’s a massive fan base, and we want to make sure we’re delivering our cards for that. We always want to have a good balance of international stars and local talent.”
Talking about renowned Mark Hunt, who was originally lined up to face Poland’s Marcin Tybura in the headliner at UFC Sydney, Shaw said that “The Super Samoan” is still under contract with UFC.
“He’s still under contract. I guess in theory it’s possible.”
“The challenge we have is we need to continue to do the testing necessary to make sure he can compete. If he can, that would be a viable option. If he can’t we’ll have to see what happens.”
“We know about the impact that Mark Hunt has. He’s a storeyed champion. He’s had a long and very successful career. He’s got a very passionate fan base that always follows him.”
“We invested heavily in making sure Hunt could fight here [UFC Sydney Fight Night] and that we were marketing it properly. It was a very, very significant disappointment to us when it just couldn’t work out.”
The UFC 221 event in Perth is expected to start at 7:00 am (UTC+08:00) due to time zone differences with the US.