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For years, American MMA fans’ awareness of Australian MMA was limited to Elvis Sinosic. While the “King of Rock ‘n’ Rumble” was the first Australian to fight for a UFC title, he’s best known for losing six straight in the big show. Thanks to the hard work of guys like Sinosic and countless unnamed, unknown trainers and promoters, today’s fighters are faring better Down Under. In honor of UFC 127, we dug into our database to identify the top Australian fighters by weight class. Agree? Disagree? Join the conversation on our Facebook page!
A New Zealand native (ok, ok, he’s not Australian but NZ is close enough, literally and figuratively, for our purposes), “Big” Jim faltered on his biggest stages, dropping three of four in Sengoku to Antonio Silva (#3), Dave Herman (#19) and Yoshihiro Nakao (#40), but he’s handled his business in Australian promotions. At 34 years old, it may be too late for York to make a UFC run but he should be able to finish strong with headlining opportunities in regional shows as the sport grows in Australia, China, and Southeast Asia.
James Te Huna already has one UFC win under his belt and a string of stoppage victories in Australian promotions. Already a top-25 fighter, the ethnic Maori has the talent and looks to anchor Zuffa’s promotional efforts in Oceania.
(Noke with coaches Winklejohn & Jackson.)
A former bodyguard for “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, Noke is known stateside for his turn on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz. A member of Team Jackson, Noke finished Josh Bryant and Rob Kimmons in his first two UFC fights and returns on Saturday to make his Octagon debut at UFC 127 in his home country.
A veteran of the Australian armed forces, Bone has fought every Aussie in his weight class in just about every Australian promotion and come out on top more often than not.
If Sots wins on Saturday night he’ll head to the front of the back of the line – behind Gray Maynard and Anthony Pettis (assuming he gets past Clay Guida) – for a shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship. Even though he resides in the U.S. full-time, Sotiropoulos will always be the local boy when fighting on his home continent.
Laborer, big wave surfer, Bra Boy and mixed martial artist Richie Vas is winning most of the fights he’s offered and might be ready to graduate to the Octagon.
Mortimer’s record isn’t sexy but his three recent losses came against top Chinese prospects and the heavier Richie Vaculik.
(Pic props Victorcui.)
Kian Pham (#11)
FIGHT! is keeping our Flyweight Rankings under wraps for now, but they are filling out nicely. Like Mortimer and many other sub-lightweight fighters, Pham suffers from having to fight above his natural weight class but he’s fared well enough to flirt with the top 10 at 125 pounds. When the UFC expands downward again and Pham can pick up a few more wins in Oceania, he would be a good acquisition.