June 5th, 2021, presented as something of a potential career trajectory moment for a then twenty two-year-old Cody Haddon. 

Touted by many as a future star of Australian MMA, Haddon was thrust into the spotlight of an  Eternal MMA main event having notched just two professional fights in his young career. 

His opponent would be then reigning Eternal MMA Flyweight champion, Stephen Erceg – a man in  need of an opponent after a scheduled title fight with hard-hitting contender Paul Loga fell through and ultimately rescheduled. 

Struggling to find opponents in his own division, Haddon jumped at the chance to face a champion  moving up a weight class in search of a fight to fill the void left by the rescheduled title bout.  

Erceg VS Haddon would go down as the 2021 Fight of the Year.

Questions were asked if this match up was “too much, too soon” for the then 2-0 Haddon. Erceg  boasted a wealth of experience as a mixed martial artist and was well on his way to next phase of  career, while Haddon was barely at the beginning of his journey. 

Haddon would ultimately go on to lose a decision to the flyweight champion in a three-round war  that would eventually be named “fight of the year” for 2021 – a fight that was anybody’s to win right  up until the final bell.  

It would be first blemish on the young prospect’s MMA record, but a huge boost in stock given his  performance against a far more established opponent. It’s a performance that has aged finely, given  the fact that Erceg would earn himself a call up to Dana White’s Contender Series less than twelve  months later. 

Fast forward to May of 2022, Haddon would steady the course and notch his third professional win at Eternal 66 against surging contender, Jarrett Wilbraham.

Haddon VS Wilbraham had the local crowd on their feet.

A fight that lived up to the hype in every way would see the twenty-three-year-old Haddon finish Wilbraham early in the third round with a series of elbows following a well-executed takedown. 

For Haddon, it was a moment of vindication after dedicating himself to years of hard work as a  martial artist. After taking some time to work on himself both personally and professionally following his loss to Erceg, Haddon found it tough to find an opponent who would be willing to share  the Eternal MMA cage with him – a major hinderance for a competitor with high ambitions and a  clear vision of the path he wishes to take. 

Speaking with Eternal MMA, Haddon reflected on his emotions after the win and what it means for  his future. 

“For me (winning) is always reassurance,” said Haddon. 

“Obviously the fight was tough, and it got a bit messy. You kind of lose that assurance of yourself  (during) the fight. Not that you’re doubting yourself, it’s just that it’s an intense fight.” 

“After winning and getting the finish (I felt) relieved to have won, even though I thought I was going  to win. At the same time, I was obviously very energetic and excited about winning, and (even) angry  in a way.”

“(It’s) a bit off a mix of emotions. When I win, especially if I get the finish, it makes me feel like I want  to start calling all these people out. That’s not my persona, it’s just how I feel. It’s kind of like ‘I  deserve this’. I deserve another fight; I deserve people to stop running from me and actually step up  and fight.” 

Haddon was highly emotional after this win at Eternal 66.

Step up and fight was exactly what Haddon’s opponent, Jarrett Wilbraham set out to do when  seemingly nobody else would. 

A surging prospect in his own right with vast skill set, unorthodox style and a unique height  advantage for the bantamweight division, Wilbraham presented as a dangerous opponent more  than capable of squaring Haddon’s win-loss record. 

Undefeated at 5-0 coming into the matchup, Wilbraham was riding a wave of momentum that  included an impressive TKO victory over the durable Jamie Hunt at Eternal 63. 

Suffice to say, this was not a matchup tailored to get Haddon back on track. Wilbraham is as tough a  competitor as Australia has to offer with his own lofty goals. This was going to take a complete  performance from the Western Australia native. 

Haddon and his team, fronted by Luistro Combat Academy head coach, Romel Luistro, studied what  little footage was available on Wilbraham prior to the match. According to Haddon, the game-plan  was more about emphasising his own skill set rather than devising a specific plan for what  Wilbraham would bring to the table. 

“I definitely watched the fight with Jamie Hunt,” said Haddon. 

He looked very, very good in that fight. I knew that he liked to throw big head kicks, I knew that he  liked to throw big knee’s, I knew that he liked to clinch – go for the body lock. I knew he was very  strong and fit.” 

“My coach Romel said, ‘No game plan. You got out there and mix it up with the guy. You’re better  than this guy in every area’. So, there was actually no game plan.” 

“I went in with an adaptable mindset and just tried to be as adaptable as possible in there with  Jarrett.” 

The 22-year old looked comfortable everywhere the fight took place.

An adaptable mindset would prove to be an important key to success as the fight opened at a  furious pace, with Wilbraham pushing the issue and forcing an early takedown. Wilbraham would  advance position and attempt to take Haddon’s back, looking for a submission. Haddon managed to  find his way back to his feet, only for Wilbraham to slam Haddon back to the mat with a thunderous  takedown. 

It was in these opening exchanges that Haddon became fully aware that he was in for a tough fight. 

“He took me down and my first thought was ‘how much does this guy weigh right now?’, he felt like  a lightweight,” said Haddon. 

“He was super strong – probably the strongest I’ve felt in a fight. He just grabbed me and picked me  up straight away.”

“When I started to move and noticed that he wasn’t trying to let go of grips, get better grips and  advance position, that’s when I realised, he was just trying to hold me with strength. I knew that was  only going to last a (short) amount of time. I was composed the whole time.” 

“It was a matter of being efficient with my energy. I knew he was going to come hard. In my mind  the whole time during the fight (I was thinking) ‘just keep putting pressure on him, he’s going to  start slowing down’.” 

“I definitely felt like he was dangerous the whole time, but I just let him swing and miss, get tired,  and then I was able to have my way with it.” 

As Haddon alluded to, efficiency would also play another vital part in securing the victory. With both  fighters having their own moments in the first round, Haddon had the best of them with a well timed jab that dropped Wilbraham as he was loading up with his own right hand. 

A three-time Australian amateur boxing champion, Haddon exhibited exceptional footwork, timing  and range. His obvious skill set on the feet continued to be demonstrated as the fight progressed  with well executed combinations and precise head movement that gave way to precise counter  striking.  

Beginning to sense a drop in energy from Wilbraham midway through the contest, Haddon took full  advantage with his own takedowns and ground control. Never out of the contest until the finish,  Wilbraham would continue to contest the fight from his back, making submission attempts and  never accepting his position as Haddon continued to work within Wilbraham’s guard to impose his  own dominance over his taller opponent. 

The momentum that Haddon took into the third and final round would pay off almost immediately.  A double-leg takedown in the opening minute was quickly capitalised on by a series of heavy elbows to the face of Wilbraham, leaving the referee no choice but to wave the fight off. 

Haddon’s eventual victory came early in the third round.

What initially seemed like a possible early stoppage was quickly proven to be the right call from an  alternative camera angle to the original broadcast. The initial takedown from Haddon was driven  with enough force to stun Wilbraham as his head hit the mat, with the follow up elbows sealing the  knockout victory for the fan favourite in his home state. 

With the win in hand, Haddon’s attention turned immediately towards the rest of the Bantamweight division. Calling out no one in particular, Haddon made it clear that he wants all would-be  challengers to come and see him when it’s time to step back inside the Eternal MMA cage. 

Clearly of the opinion that not only his performance, but also his words may have lit a fire under the  rest of the division, Haddon expects that he should now see a slew of challengers step up in attempt to take away some of his shine. 

“I think now I’ve created a little bit of a response,” said Haddon. 

“There is a few more people now that definitely want to fight me, they want to take something that I  might have. Having a lot of fans and stuff like that, they definitely want to take that from me now.  It’s lit a bit of a fire in their bellies, and they definitely want to put a stop to me because it makes  them look better.”

“I definitely want to get another two, three, four more fights in by the end of this year and stay  pretty active. Therefore, I can solidify my position. Then after that, I deserve to be going on to  (bigger things).” 

Haddon expects more challengers to put their name forward after Eternal 66.

The biggest question facing Cody Haddon right now is whether he truly is the future of Australian  MMA. Considered by many fans and media to be the case, Haddon himself was steadfast in his  opinion on whether it’s a label he is happy to shoulder. 

“One hundred percent,” said Haddon. 

“I feel like I’ve been the future of Australian MMA since before I had my first amateur MMA fight.  I’m super happy to carry that. If I’m not carrying that, I’m a bit insulted. I’ve always seen myself as  the future of Australian MMA. All my fans around me have always seen me as that, all my friends  and family – coaches as well. 

“I feel like I deserve that label. Like said, I’d be insulted if people aren’t labelling me that. Not being  big headed or anything, (but) the thing is I’ve been wanting to do this since I was six years old – I’m  twenty-three now. It’s the only thing I’ve thought about since I was six years old.” 

“My schoolteachers would ask me ‘what do you want to do when you’re older?’ (And I’d say) I want to be UFC champion.” 

“I remember I did a presentation in year three of the UFC, explaining to everyone in the class what I  want to do, what the UFC is and why I want to do it.” 

“I‘ve been a fan and I’ve been wanting to do it for a very long time. So, to be labelled that, I (feel  like) I deserve it.” 

Cody’s match vs Jarrett Wilbraham at Eternal 66 can be replayed on UFC Fight Pass.


Know your fighter: Cody Haddon 

Eternal MMA sits down with Cody Haddon for a quick-fire Q&A ahead of his fourth professional fight at Eternal 66 against Jarrett Wilbraham. 

Age: 23 

Where were you born? 

I was born here in WA – Joondalup. 

Where are you based now? 

Still in WA – Northern Suburbs, Balcatta. 

What gym do you train out of? 

Luistro Combat Academy. 

Who are your coaches? 

Romel Luistro. 

What sports and activities did you participate in growing up? 

I started off in Taekwondo when I was six years old and then from there I got into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,  Muay Thai and boxing. I would have been nine when I started doing all those sports (together). I was  playing footy (Aussie rules) as well at the same time and I kept competing in those sports  individually. Now I’m competing solely in MMA.

Only his fourth pro outing, Haddon has already shared the cage with the best.

When did you first decide to dedicate yourself to the sport of MMA? 

The start of 2019, I would have been nineteen at the time. That’s when I went full-fledged focused  on MMA. 

In training, do you have any favourite techniques or areas that you enjoy drilling? 

Not really, I like all of it. Just getting the heart rate up feels good. I can’t really say one aspect more  than the other. I like it all equally. 

What can fans expect to see from you when you step inside the cage? 

I always bring a high pace. I like to put pressure on. I’m always looking to finish the fight at any  chance I get – sooner rather than later as I don’t get paid overtime (ha-ha). I’m always looking for  the finish, whether that’s a submission or striking. 

What do you see as your biggest strengths as a martial artist? 

I’d say my experience. I’ve only had “so many” MMA fights, but I’ve been competing in combat  sports for so long. My knowledge in the sport itself, how much I know about it and all the disciplines.

What do you consider to be your standout performance as a professional up until this point in  your career? 

I wouldn’t say one fight I performed better than the other fight. In my last bout with Steve (former  Eternal flyweight champion – Stephen Erceg), even though I lost the fight I feel like my performance  was pretty good. I think if anything my biggest achievement was getting that first pro fight and  winning. Not from a performance standpoint but more so from a success standpoint. That’s the big  thing, being an amateur your whole life and then eventually turning pro. There’s not (to say) so  much “pressure” on you, but everyone expecting (so much) of you already. To then go out and win  it, that’s the biggest kind of achievement up until now because it’s what means the most to me.

Even through loss, Haddon rates his performance VS Erceg.

Could you compare your style at present to a UFC athlete? 

People ask me that question quite often I can never seem to answer it. I feel like I haven’t had  enough fights to explain exactly what my style is like. People haven’t seen the best of me yet and  people haven’t seen what I’m capable of in all aspects of fighting. 

Do you have a favourite fighter at a professional level? 

Not really, I don’t have a favourite fighter. I respect all the fighters who are there in the UFC to be  honest. 

What belts or rankings do you currently posses as a martial artist? 

I’m actually a Taekwondo black belt, which not many people know about, but that was my first  martial art. I’m also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

What are some of the accolades you have achieved as a combat sports athlete? 

Australian champion in boxing – three-time national champion. Four-time Pan Pacific Jiu-Jitsu  champion, that was at blue-belt and purple-belt. 

What are your goals for both the immediate and long-term future as a combat sports athlete?

The UFC. That’s the goal, that’s the always the end goal. I want to be UFC champion.

“I want to be UFC Champion.”

How do you see yourself getting your hand raised at Eternal 66? 

I think on the feet I might land something and then progress towards a finish from there, just  because I believe in my hands. No disrespect to my opponent, he’s great, but I just feel like I’m  probably going to land something with my hands. 

A message of thanks to your supporters? 

First and foremost, my gym – Luistro Combat Academy. A big shout out to my sponsors – Vex MMA,  Gobsmacked Sports Mouthguards, Pro Fuel Meals, Victory Recovery Systems, HempCann Labs,  Gorilla Chiropratic, my CrossFit gym – CrossFit Dignus, Margaret River Roasting Co, Steezy and True  Nemesis. 

A final message to the fans ahead of your upcoming fight at Eternal 66?

To the fans – thank you for all the support. Without them buying tickets, paying for PPV’s, we as  fighters wouldn’t be able to do this. This is my full-time job. At the moment, we’re not making any  money out of it, so we do it all for the love. Without the fans, we wouldn’t have the fighters. I  appreciate all the fans who are going to tune and as you know, I’ll be hunting for the finish as  always.