Part two of Welcome to the UFC: Down Under edition features two fighters who are stepping in on short notice to compete in front of millions for the first time. First up, we have a young bloke on a six-fight win streak that has rightfully earned him the title of number one Oceanic featherweight outside of the UFC. Next we have a social media darling that has overcome tremendous obstacles to make that walk to the legendary Octagon.
Who is Shane Young?
24-year-old Kiwi “Sugar” Shane Young will step up on one weeks notice to fight Alex Volkanovski. Young will replace Humberto Bandenay, who replaced Jeremy Kennedy, who had to pull out from this fight in early October. The bout will be contested at a catchweight of 150 pounds due to Young’s limited amount of time to make weight. Young trains out of City Kickboxing in Auckland with fellow UFC fighters Dan Hooker and Kai Kara-France. The promising young fighter has paid his dues, already competing in fourteen pro fights including featherweight and lightweight title fights in the Australian promotion XFC. He won and defended the featherweight belt, but came up just short in the lightweight fight, losing a bloody majority decision to UFC vet Damien Brown.
What you should expect?
Like his teammates in the Octagon before him, Young does his best work on the feet. He consistently moves forward, keeps his head off of the center line, and mixes up his punch and kick combo extremely well. His speed and power are not off the charts, but he makes up for it with efficient movement and precise timing. His takedown defense is not impenetrable but should hold up against non-elite wrestlers. Young’s stamina is one of his biggest weapons, allowing him to maintain heavy pressure on his opponent through out the fight.
What this means for his debut?
You gotta do what you gotta do to break in to the UFC, but Volkanovski is a nightmare debut opponent, especially on seven days notice. Volkanovski is a steamroller and if Young is overly aggressive on the feet, Volkanovski will plant him on his back quickly. He will need to implement a stick and move approach, using his reach to stay on the outside and pick apart the shorter Volkanovski. While the deck is stacked against Young in his debut, his durability should keep him around till the later rounds - but Volkanovski’s ground and pound will take a toll. Hopefully this will be the first of many octagon battles for the young Kiwi. Volkanovski TKO, round 3.
Watch Young drop MMA’s resident bad guy Julian ‘The Jackal” Wallace at the Australian promotion XFC:
Who is Jessica Rose-Clark?
29 year old Australian native Jessica Rose-Clark, aka Jessy Jess, will also make her debut on a little over a weeks notice. Jess was scheduled to take on Vanessa Porto at Invicta 26, but an injury to Joanne Calderwood provided her with this massive opportunity to return home for her Octagon debut. The colorful fighter made the move to the States in 2015 after capturing multiple promotional titles in her homeland. Following a few months of searching for a home base, she settled down at Syndicate MMA in September of last year. She is coming off of the biggest win of her career, a decision victory over WMMA pioneer Carina Damm at Titan FC 45. Jess showcased her rapid skills progression, stuffing Damm’s takedown attempts and destroying her lead leg with low kicks.
What should you expect?
Jess is a well-rounded fighter, but her Muay Thai is her strongest weapon. She finishes combos with punishing low kicks and is very strong in the clinch. She doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, but her wrestling has a few holes that she will need to work on to have success at the highest levels. Many of her troubles in past fights came when larger opponents were able to out-muscle her and control the clinches. Moving back down to flyweight should eliminate any strength deficit and allow her the best opportunity to display her technique.
What this means for her debut?
Jessy Jess will meet fellow Aussie Bec Rawlings, who is in danger of dropping her third fight in a row. There is good reason that this fight is on the main card, as it should be a standup war that will highlights both fighters abilities. Rawlings will have the better boxing while Jess puts it all together in a much more fluid manner. If anyone attempts a takedown, it will be Rawlings in the later rounds. Overall it will be a very close fight that could easily pocket the ladies performance bonuses. Jessy Jess Unanimous Decision
Check out Jessy Jess in her 2013 bantamweight title fight against Kate Da Silva: