Men at Work – 8 Fighters from Down Under

MMA in Australia and New Zealand hasn’t quite reached the same heights as its counterparts in the U.S. and Brazil, but it’s getting there. Since 2010, the UFC has traveled to Australia to promote four events, with a return scheduled in December. Couple that return with the UFC’s announced September filming of The Ultimate Fighter: Nations—which will pit Canada vs. Australia—and it’s a good time to be a fighting bloke. Here are eight Men at Work that will make you run and take cover.

Mark Hunt
Nickname: The Super Samoan
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Fighting Out Of: Sydney, Australia
Gym: Oceania Super Fighter Gym/ATT
Record: 9-8

Mark Hunt’s professional MMA record is a fairly pedestrian 9-8, but the former K-1 World Champion’s career is about more than just wins and losses. When the UFC purchased PRIDE and absorbed Hunt’s contract in 2010, the New Zealander was riding a five-fight losing streak. He didn’t fare any better in his UFC debut, suffering a submission loss in 63 seconds. However, Hunt got back on track and steamrolled his next four foes, defeating Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell, Cheick Kongo, and Stefan Struve, before falling to Junior dos Santos at UFC 160. Despite a loss for Hunt, the brutal battle won Fight of the Night honors and has been labeled one of the greatest heavyweight fights in history.

James Te Huna
Weight Class: Light Heavyweight
Fighting Out Of: Sydney, Australia
Gym: Elite Fight Gym
Record: 16-6

Riding a 5-1 mark since joining the UFC in 2010, James Te Huna asked for a top-level fight in May, and he got it. There weren’t many people raising their hand to fight Glover Teixeira after Ryan Bader got injured and had to withdraw from his UFC 160 bout, but Te Huna took the chance against a man who hadn’t lost a fight since 2005. Te Huna may have been forced to tap, but the Australian (by way of New Zealand) showed his fighting spirit by accepting a fight that more than a few fighters walked away from. The former Cage Fighting Championship Light Heavyweight Champion will have redemption on his mind when he steps back into the Octagon later this year.

Soa Palelei
Nickname: The Hulk
Weight Class: Heavyweight
Fighting Out Of: Perth, Australia
Gym: Hulk MMA
Record: 18-3

Since a 2011 loss to undefeated Daniel Cormier, Soa Palelei has gone on a tear, winning his next eight fights by (T)KO. That was enough to get the UFC interested again (Palelei made his lone UFC appearance in 2007, loosing to Eddie Sanchez), and he was scheduled to face Stipe Miocic at UFC 161 in June before the UFC replaced him with Roy Nelson to beef up an injury plagued card. Palelei didn’t have to wait long for a new opponent—he’ll return to the Octagon at UFC 164 later this month to take on undefeated newcomer Nikita Krylov.

Benny Alloway
Nickname: The Aussie Gangsta
Weight Class: Welterweight
Fighting Out Of: Gold Coast, Australia
Gym: Potential Unlimited MMA/Fiore MMA
Record: 12-4

Taking home a “Fight of the Season” award from his time on The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes and then backing it up with a “Knockout of the Night” of Manuel Rodriguez at UFC on FX 6, Benny Alloway started off his UFC career with a bang. A newborn son and a contract with the sport’s biggest promotion in 2012 capped off a banner year for the fighter with only three years of cage experience. However, Alloway went into his sophomore effort at UFC on Fuel TV 9 in April with a bum knee and suffered a decision loss to Ryan La Flare. Now on the mend, Alloway is awaiting his next assignment.

Dylan Andrews
Nickname: The Villain
Weight Class: Middleweight
Fighting Out Of: Gold Coast, Australia
Gym: Potential Unlimited MMA/Heartbreak Conditioning
Record: 16-4-1

After being turned away three times for a chance to take part in The Ultimate Fighter, Dylan Andrews finally met the mark on the 17th season of the show. Although he was picked last in team selections, the 33-year-old striker made it to the semifinals by earning a unanimous decision and knockout. Andrews demonstrated his take-no-prisoners attitude when he walked away from the reality show with a “Fight of the Season” bonus and a highlight-reel TKO over Jimmy Quinlan in the TUF Finale. Now riding a five-fight winning streak, the native New Zealander is scheduled to fight Papy Abedi at UFC Fight Night on August 28.

Corey Nelson
Nickname: Major
Weight Class: Welterweight
Fighting Out Of: Liverpool, Australia
Gym: KMA Top Team
Record: 12-4-1

Corey Nelson is one of the most talented fighters from Australia who is not currently signed to the UFC. In fact, three of his four career losses have come at the hands of UFC vets. With the welterweight division being contested on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations, Nelson would be an ideal candidate to lead the Aussie team. Riding a five-fight winning streak, Nelson fights Walber Brito de Barros at Australian Fighting Championships 6 at the end of August.

Robert Whittaker
Weight Class: Welterweight
Fighting Out Of: Sydney, Australia
Gym: PMA Martial Arts
Record: 11-2

After winning The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes, Robert Whittaker hasn’t slowed down a step. A KO win over TUF 16 counterpart Colton Smith at UFC 160 proved that Whittaker belongs on the big stage. In preparation for his fight against Smith, Whittaker spent part of his training camp at Tristar in Montreal, shoring up his wrestling with the likes of Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald. The work paid dividends, and Whittaker will face TUF 11 winner Court McGee at UFC on Fox Sports 1: 2 on August 28.

Kyle Noke
Nickname: KO
Weight Class: Welterweight
Fighting Out Of: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Gym: Jackson’s MMA/Integrated MMA
Record: 20-6-1

TUF 11 alum and a former bodyguard for the “The Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, Kyle Noke has had mixed success inside the Octagon. He won his first three fights in the UFC—all finishes—but back-to-back losses saw him cut down to welterweight, where he starched Charlie Brenneman at UFC 152. Noke’s next assignment will be showcasing his skills as the coach of Team Australia on the upcoming TUF: Nations series. Going full-circle with the TUF franchise is not something that many fighters get to do, but the Greg Jackson trained fighter is embracing the opportunity and looking forward to his stint against Canadian coach Patrick Cote.

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