UFC 243 featuring City Kickboxing
The upcoming UFC 243 card in Melbourne has had another New Zealand fighter added to it, with kickboxing legend Brad "Quake" Riddell to make his promotional debut.
UFC 243 is set to potentially become the biggest event in promotional history, set to take place on Sunday 6th October at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, which has a maximum capacity of 60,000. Already, the card is becoming stacked with New Zealand talent, with interim Middleweight champion Israel Adesanya fighting to unify the belts as he takes on ferocious Australian Robert Whittaker in the main event. Adesanya fights out of the famed City Kickboxing (CKB) gym in Auckland, under coach Eugene Bareman.
The co-main event was announced last week, as CKB fighter Dan "the Hangman" Hooker's petition to fight "Raging" Al Iaquinta was successful, with the two slated to meet at 155lb. This fight promises to be action-packed, as both men are known for their striking prowess. While Iaquinta's strength is his boxing and wrestling, the taller Hooker is a kickboxer, coming off an impressive knockout of James Vick in July. Who will impose their will in this clash of styles?
Kai Kara-France asked to be added to the card, which would mean a 5-week turnaround after beating Mark De La Rosa last weekend. While this has not been announced yet, the UFC will surely try to stack the card with as many ANZAC's as possible.
To that end, last week it was announced that another CKB standout, Brad Riddell, will be added to the UFC 243 card. Riddell is an elite kickboxer with a long bodycount list, having faced some of the world's best, accumulating a stack of title belts in the process. The 27-year-old won the HK Commonwealth Middleweight title, the New Zealand WMC Middleweight title, the Oceania Super8 Middleweight title, and is the current the WKBF World Middleweight champion.
Historically, when specialist strikers transition to the big show of the UFC they do so gradually, starting in the smaller promotions and working their way upwards so that they have time to develop their grappling to a competitive level. Riddell's CKB teammate Israel Adesanya took this path, racking up an impressive pro record of 11-0 in MMA before entering the UFC.
Riddell transitioned to MMA in 2017, and has since amassed a record of 6-1-0 with 5 wins coming by way of KO. He is a ferocious striker, which makes him a wrecking machine wearing the smaller 4oz gloves of MMA. His usual weight is 165lb, but he will cut to 155lb for his UFC debut.
It seems as though CKB head coach Eugene Bareman is going to have his hands full on October 6th, with 3 CKB fighters so far booked to fight on the card. Before October 6th there might even be more, if Kai Kara-France gets his wish.