Enter Krazy Horse: The Kaleb Rideout welterweight title reign begins. 

Kaleb Rideout Welterweight

 For more than a decade, Australia has produced a consistent offering of mixed martial artists that have risen to international prominence. It is no longer a secret that Australia is emerging as a sleeping giant on the world stage. 

Names such as – Tai Tuivasa, Jimmy Crute, Tyson Pedro, Jack Della Maddalena, Casey O’Neill, Jamie Mullarkey, Jacob Malkoun and Josh Culibao are all currently riding the trail blazed by the likes of Mark Hunt, Robert Whittaker, Alexander Volkanovski, Daniel Kelly, Kyle Noke and Jake Matthews to name a few. 

The growing number of Australian exports have seen a wide variety of success that has included everything from champions, future hall of famers, top contending challengers and blue-chip prospects. 

With a multitude of talent exporting at a higher level than ever for Australia, more and more fans are turning their attention to the grassroots of MMA in order to spot the next generation of fighters making their rise in the sport. 

It’s a good thing too, because at least for right now, the most exciting Australian mixed martial artist is still on our shores. 

… And he just became the Eternal MMA welterweight champion

For all intents and purposes, Kaleb Rideout is perhaps the most accessible combat sports athlete currently competing on the regional scene of combat sports – a stark contrast to the otherworldly showmanship that he exhibits as a competitive martial artist. 

A natural-born entertainer, Rideout has made a priority of giving the fans a show every time he steps foot inside the cage, and it is far from a case of style over substance. 

YouTube Kaleb Rideout, the results speak for themselves. 

July 16th, 2022, saw Eternal MMA produce one of, if not its biggest card in it’s almost ten-year existence, with Rideout slated to close the curtains in his championship fight against City Kickboxing product – Kevin Jousset. 

Coming off a spinning back-fist knockout over his previous opponent at Eternal 64, Rideout was primed to make another statement in is young professional career. 

With the vacant welterweight title on the line, Rideout produced a bell-to-bell performance bodied by a plethora of unorthodox striking, non-stop pressure, high octane pace and endless cardio. 

Speaking with Eternal MMA, Rideout spoke shared his thoughts on the biggest win of his career to date. 

“I can’t explain how I feel,” said Rideout. 

“As soon as they said I was champion, I literally lost my feet and just collapsed in the middle of the cage. It’s something I’ve been training so hard for. Not just in this camp, but all the camps before that, ever since I was 2-2 as a pro. 

“I’m still on the comedown from it, really.” 

The long-lasting comedown from Rideout’s performance has been a mutually felt feeling for those in attendance as well as watchers tuning in on UFC Fight Pass. 

Fans were treated to an exceptionally unique display of striking at a relentless clip that included countless spinning back-fists, spin kicks, overhand hammer fists and several other techniques that oozed with style points. 

One such technique that Kaleb pulled out of his handy toolbox was something not many of us can say we have seen before – hammer-fist strikes to his standing opponents’ knee? 

“This is just the start of my style,” said Rideout. 

“I have got plenty more tricks in my bag that I didn’t even get to show. You have only seen little glimpses. 

“The standing hammer-fist at the start of the fight that caused massive damage to his face, the damage I was inflicting in all these random positions that I was in. The unorthodox strikes that I was throwing from punches to the legs to hammer fists to the legs – its just the start really. 

“I was so glad in a way that we went the five fives, because you could see what I’m actually capable of. My fitness is through the roof. I could have done another five fives after (the fight). 

“The only thing that you didn’t really get to see was my ground game, which is a bit disappointing. But at the same time, in my opinion, fans don’t come to see grappling in the cage. Why would they? 

“They want to see striking, so I give them everything I can with my strikes.” 

“I said it at the end of this fight, and I will say it leading up to every other fight – I will stand and throw down as much as I can. 

“I’m hunting for my Robbie Lawler vs Rory McDonald fight.” 

There is no doubt that Rideout is on a collision course to get his wish at some point in his career. By his own admission, his fighting style and desire to entertain the fans are at the forefront of his mind whenever he prepares to step foot inside the cage. The fact that he is just so damn good at getting wins on his record at the same time has been an exceptionally welcome byproduct of his fan-friendly skillset. 

It’s one thing to be flashy, it’s another thing to put it all together and become a title belt holder – Kaleb Rideout is now both. 

To the surprise of many, one judge saw the contest in favour of Jousset to the tune of three rounds to two, while the other two judges saw it in favour of Rideout at 50-45 and 49-46 respectively. 

A split decision victory for the first-time title challenger. 

“I was very ‘fight-aware’ in that fight the entire time,” said Rideout. 

“As soon as that final bell rang, and Kevin and I embraced after the fight, I said ‘it’s going to be a split decision’. I just didn’t know how the judges were going to score it.”

“I knew he had the takedowns, he had the control (time), but I was doing the most damage. So, I could see that being more favourable to the judges.” 

“I knew I had the rounds with my aggression and my striking, he wasn’t landing anywhere near the amount of punches or significant strikes as I was. 

“Looking back at it now that I’ve had time to reflect and watch the fight, it’s hard to see the split decision. I think I won four out of the five rounds. But the judges called it a split and I’m not going to argue with it. It’s still a win in my books.” 

Back at home and now with some distance from the title fight, Rideout can see clearly now just how dominant he was for the majority of the contest. By his own admission, however, Jousset was one of if not the toughest out of his professional career. 

“The best way to describe (Jousset) – he’s honestly like the French Terminator,” said Rideout. 

“I was punching him hard – I mean, I was hitting him… hard. My right hand is ridiculously swollen. He just kept walking forward. 

“I think I hit him with five clean punches and a clean elbow, and he just didn’t bleed! His bloody bones, every time I hit him, it just felt like steel.” 

“His toughness is ten out of ten. I’ve hit a lot of people with those shots and a lot of them have dropped.” 

“I knew his gas tank wouldn’t be as good as mine, (but) I was surprised in the fourth and fifth rounds that he was still very fit. You could still see that he deteriorated a bit, but the volume was on all day. 

“I expected him to shoot more takedowns on me, but the longer the fight went, he very rarely did what I thought he would do. So, it just gave me free reign to stand there and throw.” 

A fan of the game as well as a student of it, Rideout somehow found time towards the end of the fourth round to shoot his shot with a very familiar face at cage side. 

Strategising against him was Kevin Jousset’s world-renowned coach, Eugene Bareman – most notably the long-time mentor of current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. 

Not one to miss an opportunity, even with his opponent in a dominant position against him, the man they call “Krazy Horse” seized the opportunity to have a quick word with the City Kickboxing lead man. 

“It was just a spur of the moment thing,” said Rideout with a laugh. 

“He (Jousset) pinned me and took me down against the cage, I looked to the left and I saw Joe Lopez there and I was like ‘oh sh*t, hey Joe!’. I was a little bit concussed; I think. 

“And then (I saw) Eugene and thought, it’s not the right time but (I said) ‘hey Eugene, can I get a photo after this?!’. Then we had a bit of a banter war and he (Jousset) got up and kicked me in the ribs, which hurt.” 

It’s a 2022 kicking off on the right foot for Rideout. With two wins from two fights, including his recent title win, the sky is looking like the limit for the newly crowned champ. 

Splitting his time between work as a plasterer and training as a mixed martial artist, Rideout leads a typical life of a regional circuit athlete. Three days after winning the championship fight, it was back to life as usual on the tools for the Picton, New South Wales resident. Only this time, with all the attention that comes with the territory of being an Australian champion. 

With the welterweight title around his waist, the proud representative of his gym – XXX Fight Academy said the reception back home with his teammates was electric. 

“They absolutely loved the fight because it was so entertaining” said Rideout. 

“I feel like a celebrity walking around the gym right now, it’s great.” 

Celebrity aside, Rideout knows that his road as a high-profile combat sports athlete is barely beginning. Now 7-2-0 as a professional, he has put together a run of five wins in a row on his way to the welterweight title. 

Earning himself a reputation as one of the most electrifying mixed martial artists in the country, Rideout is ready and willing to face whatever challenge is placed before him whenever the time comes. 

With a new addition to the family set to arrive in November, however, Rideout will be looking to face the next challenge either before or after what will be the most important moment in his life. 

“My first child is on the way – a little girl,” said Rideout beaming ear to ear. 

“I’m building a granny flat right now out the back of my missus’ parents house for me, her and the little one.” 

“But as I’ve said, at the end of the day, It’s Cam’s (Eternal MMA promoter, Cam O’Neill) call. Whatever he wants to do, I’ll just turn up and do what I do best. It doesn’t bother me; a fight is a fight at the end of the day.” 

“I will always be here to entertain.” 

Eternal 67 can be replayed on UFC Fight Pass

The French Redemption: Kevin Jousset primed for second shot at welterweight title. 

Eternal MMA welterweight contender Kevin Jousset

 Kevin Jousset was only two fights into his professional career when he received his first title shot. 

Serving as a replacement for the injured Glenn Pettigrew, Jousset stepped up on just two weeks’ notice to challenge then reigning welterweight champion, Jack Della Maddalena

An eyelid laceration would see a doctors stoppage cut his first title bid short after the end of the second round, though Jousset was widely commended for his performance given the circumstances. 

Since then, Jousset has strung together a run of three wins on his way back to a second shot at the title – the most recent of which being a hard-fought decision against Saeid Fatahifar at Eternal 59. 

A black belt in Judo, Jousset demonstrated his elite level grappling skills, landing several hip-toss takedowns on his opponent, much to the delight of the crowd. Throughout the opening two rounds, Jousset expertly utilised his impressive height and reach advantage with teep kicks to the body of Fatahifar, while keeping the range with his jab at almost every exchange. 

The third round would see Jousset unleash a barrage of strikes from the feet in the opening seconds, almost immediately causing blood to flow from the nose of the tough Iranian. A high octane last few minutes of the fight would see the Frenchman successfully stuff several takedown attempts from his weakening opponent, putting a stamp on his performance with stifling ground control mixed in with tireless ground and pound. 

Jousset unleashes a barrage of strikes from the feet in the opening seconds of round three at Eternal MMA 59.

With the dominant decision win in his back pocket, the Eternal MMA brass had seen enough to award Jousset another shot at the welterweight strap. This time, with a complete training camp to back him up inside the cage. 

Speaking with Eternal MMA, Jousset reflected on his most recent performance as he prepares for a second attempt at championship glory. 

“I was quite dominant most of the fight,” said Jousset. 

“It was a good way for me to show everyone I am one of the best welterweights in the country. Saeid is one of the toughest guys in the country as well. Being able to beat him meant a lot for the Eternal promoters, so they wanted me to fight for the belt. 

“Obviously, all the lockdowns happened, so it had to be pushed back a bit later than what we had planned. (But) finally, we are getting there. Less than a week and I will have the belt around my waste.” 

Originally born in France, Jousset would eventually find his way to New Zealand’s City Kickboxing after spending some time both in the UK and Australia. 

Boasting some of the best combat sports athletes in the world, including UFC middleweight champion – Israel Adesanya, UFC featherweight champion – Alexander Volkanovski, as well as Dan Hooker, Brad Riddell and Kai Kara-France to name a few, Jousset has a plethora of talent to train with on a daily basis. 

On top of being able to learn from some of the region’s elite fighters, Jousset’s training is spearheaded by world-renowned MMA coach, Eugene Bareman

The importance of being surrounded by such a high-level melting pot of talent and knowledge is not lost twenty-nine-year-old as he prepares for the biggest fight of his career to date. 

Jousset deep in thought between rounds at Eternal 59
Jousset deep in thought between rounds at Eternal 59.

“Training with those guys is insane,” he said. 

“Coming from my background, I already knew that I could handle the best grapplers in the world because I’ve done it – I know how it is. But being able to train with the best strikers in the world now is great. If I can handle those guys, I can literally handle anyone.” 

“Just (seeing) the work ethic, seeing how everyone is humble and just working their ass off every single day, it’s very humbling.” 

The day-to-day learnings inside the confines of one of the world’s most elite MMA gyms are what Jousset believes will guide him to victory against his fellow title challenger, Kaleb Rideout

While Jousset is aware of the kind of problems Rideout can present inside the cage, it is his steadfast belief that “Krazy Horse” will not have nearly enough for him when the cage doors close – no matter how the matchup plays out. 

“He’s quite an aggressive fighter – very dangerous with some of his techniques,” he said. 

“It’s going to be quite an exciting fight with two (different) styles against each other. I need to be very focused and aware of all the spinning attacks and all the stuff that he does to make sure that I don’t get caught.” 

“I just need to apply my game plan and use my skills as well as possible, so I don’t get hit too much. I need to (deal) as much damage to him as possible.” 

Jousset has made no secret of what his plans are as a professional mixed martial artist. Training with some of the best athletes in the world – many of whom themselves have made the journey from the Australia/New Zealand regional scene to international waters, Jousset eventually wants to follow suit. 

While harbouring his own ambitions to one day compete in the UFC, he believes there is no better platform to showcase his abilities in this part of the world than Eternal MMA. 

“Eternal is the biggest organisation in this part of the world,” he said. 

“Once I get this belt around my waste, I will officially be the best welterweight in the country. That will definitely help open the doors to the big leagues. 

“The goal is to fight in the UFC, as everyone knows. There are quite a few guys who used to hold the belt before, who then got signed to the UFC later. So, that’s the goal – getting the belt first and then getting signed (to the UFC). 

Holding such lofty goals is standard for any fighter who wants to call themselves the best, and Kevin Jousset is no different. While he hopes to carve his own international path someday, he has no intention of looking beyond his next opponent standing in the way of him winning his first championship belt. 

Asked if he believes there is a specific area in which he holds an advantage over his upcoming opponent, Jousset was resolute in his answer. 

A response that came with somewhat of an advertisement for bad intentions to those tuning in on fight day. 

“I have the advantage everywhere,” he said matter-of-factly. 

“I’m a better striker than him, I’m a better grappler than him, I’m stronger than him. I think I have an advantage everywhere. I just need to be focused and do my thing, that’s it.” 

“Violence is what people are going to see. I will show everyone that I am levels above all the other welterweights in the country – I will be ready to fight for the UFC sooner rather than later.” 

“The main thing is, whatever happens, the conclusion stays the same – I’ll be winning this fight one-hundred percent.” 

Eternal 67 main card will be streamed July 16th live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass

Rideout or die: The Krazy Horse forecasts a war in Welterweight title showdown.

Kaleb-Rideout-on-his-thrown-after-a-spinning-backfist-KO

Not since rising Australian star, Jack Della Maddalena vacated his title in 2021 in pursuit of a UFC contract has Eternal MMA had a welterweight champion to reign over the division.

Four successful title defences after first capturing the belt in March of 2018 would see the Perth native receive a call up to the heralded proving grounds of Dana White’s Contender Series – a chance he would take with both hands to earn himself the converted roster spot amongst the sport’s elite at 77 kilograms.

With the Eternal MMA welterweight title left vacant for would-be challengers to claim, two candidates would eventually separate themselves from the pack to earn a matchup against each other for the belt at Eternal 67. One of those contenders to emerge would be the highly touted and wildly exciting prospect, Kaleb Rideout.

Coming off a highlight-reel finish over Ben Johnston at Eternal 64, the man known as “Krazy Horse” effectively punched his ticket to a first-ever title shot inside the first round with a spinning back fist knockout.

Kaleb-Rideout-mid-spin-at-Eternal-MMA-64
Kaleb Rideout mid-spin at Eternal MMA 64.

Speaking with Eternal MMA, Rideout reflected on his recent win as he looks ahead to Eternal 67.

“I didn’t expect it to end so quickly,” said Rideout.

“Obviously, I wanted to finish the fight as quick as possible. I was cruising in (the opening exchanges), I was still feeling it out. He charged me and I just reacted to get out of the way and threw a spinning back fist.

“Ten seconds later and the fight was over.”

Originally a rugby league player as a junior, Rideout found mixed martial arts while training wrestling in the offseason.

Realising that he was destined to make a better fighter than a footballer, Rideout took up training at XXX Fight Academy under Nathan Reddy and Michael Mousalli – a move that would see him find success as an amateur before amassing a 6-2-0 record as a professional.

Prior to being awarded the main event slot at Eternal 67, Rideout admits that he initially had his eyes on a different opponent before happily taking up the offer to fight for a championship.

Kaleb-Rideout-addresses-the-crowd-after-his-win-over-Ben-Johnston
Kaleb Rideout addresses the crowd after his win over Ben Johnston.

“I actually busted my knuckles on Ben Johnston’s f**king forehead, so I had a bit of time off,” said Rideout with a laugh.

“I was originally after the Joey Luciano fight. I wanted to fight him because he ducks and weaves all the good fighters. One thing led to another, my coach rang me and said, ‘Eternal has got you for the belt – f**k this Joey fight’

“It’s all just erupted (from there), which has been overwhelmingly good, I can’t believe it.”

Standing across the other side of the Eternal MMA cage will be former title challenger and City Kickboxing product, Kevin Jousset.

With the French judoka coming off a win in a three-round war in his most recent matchup, Rideout is fully prepared to wade into deep waters should the fight go the distance.

“I never underestimate my opponents, I go in there thinking I’m fighting a God,” said Rideout.

“I’m always going in there expecting the unexpected. I don’t analyse my opponents, that’s up to my coaches (but) from what I see, it’s a pretty good matchup. He’s well-rounded with the ground game and with the striking.

“Apparently, he likes to throw people in Judo so, that’s fun, I like to go flying. It’s a match made in heaven if you ask me.”

“I’m really excited for this fight for many reasons. (I want) to show how good my striking is, because I know he’s training at City Kickboxing. If I finish this guy, this will put me at the pinnacle of Australia/New Zealand MMA, in my opinion.”

Kaleb Rideout is the type of fighter that welcomes the scrappy side of MMA. A fierce competitor with a genuine love for combat sports, it is apparent that he is always ready to walk into the fire and put on a show for the fans.

While Rideout is happy to expect an all-out war against his opponent, in the grand scheme of things, it is the prospect of winning the welterweight championship that means the most to him. It has been a journey, however, that has not been without its tribulations for the twenty-five-year-old.

Australian-Mixed-Martial-Artisi-Kaleb-Rideout

“It would mean everything to me (to win the belt). I have trained my little white arse off to get to this position right now,” said Rideout.

“About a year and a half ago, I was 2-2 as a pro, not knowing what I wanted to do. I had to take some time away from the sport to get my head right, get my training right and level up.

“When I came back, I came back a different beast. I’ve grown twelve inches of hair and just started knocking people out.

“But that’s what I want – I want this belt.”

Now on a four-fight win streak – a run that included three finishes, it is clear that time away from the sport has worked wonders for Rideout’s trajectory. With a renewed focus on his life as well as his career, coaches and training partners alike began to see the growth in his game.

While Rideout is prepared for all outcomes, he believes that the progress made behind closed doors will earn him his first Australian MMA title in spectacular fashion.

“I want my hand raised over a KO,” he said.

“If I can knock this guy out, that would just show the level that I’m at – levels above everyone in Australia/New Zealand MMA.”

“What fans are going to see on July 16th is one of us is going to get knocked out, or we are both going to be standing there bloody, because that’s the way we both fight.”

“I go for the knockout or blood, and he goes for the knockout or blood. So, one of us is going to get what we want.”

– Eternal 67 main card will be streamed June 16th live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass.

Australia’s most avoided featherweight? Mohammad Alavi says YES ahead of his Eternal MMA debut. 

mohammad alavi mma featherweight

 Eternal 67 is shaping up to be one of the most impressive cards on paper in recent memory – a trend that has seen the promotion grow to new and exciting levels with each passing event. 

Of course, with that comes the opportunity to showcase new and exciting talent both Australia and other counties around the world. 

With the promotion making its return to the Gold Coast on July 16th, the co-main event of the evening will play host to the Eternal MMA debut of an Iranian-born juggernaut in the form of Mohammad Alavi

Speaking with Eternal MMA, Alavi shared his thoughts ahead of his highly anticipated matchup against Justin Van Heerden

“I’m really excited for this fight,” said Alavi. 

“I was supposed to fight for the featherweight title last year, but because of (the coronavirus pandemic) it was cancelled. (But) I’m really excited, Eternal is the biggest show in Australia – it’s a good platform for me to show my skills to everyone.” 

Undefeated at 7-0 with six of his seven wins all coming by way of a finish, the now New South Wales based powerhouse is earning himself somewhat of a reputation as the “boogeyman” amongst the Australian featherweight rankings. 

While he has been able to showcase his high-level talent against each of the opponents he has faced so far, it is Alavi’s belief that he is being avoided by most active featherweights in the country at present. 

Mohammad Alavi ready to fly high at Eternal 67.

“I believe I’m the best featherweight in Australia,” he said. 

“It’s really hard to get a fight. I want to fight with the best, whoever they think is number one. But all the top ten or top five Australian featherweight’s – they don’t want to fight me.” 

“Even for this fight, they promised me it’s going to be a title fight, but I think the champion doesn’t want to fight me. That makes me feel like I’m the best featherweight because everyone is ignoring me, they’re ducking me.” 

“I think I’m the most avoided fighter at featherweight.” 

Although Alavi has felt frustrated by what he believes has been four years of struggling to find matchups, he concedes he feels the alleged avoidance is a compliment on his skillset. With lofty ambitions of his own to compete at the highest level, the man they call “Scarface” believes that there are some fighters who are turning down matchups in order to preserve their own record. 

“It’s kind of a compliment but it’s really frustrating,” he said. 

“I want to fight with the best, I want to fight for the belt, whoever is number one or number two, whoever is better than me. I want to fight with everyone! 

“It’s hard because they don’t want to lose their belt. They don’t want to fight with me because nowadays everyone is looking for easy fights. They want to keep their records clean to get into the UFC

“For me, I don’t care. In featherweight, I’ll fight anyone. Whoever in Australia or New Zealand, I don’t care.” 

“Thankfully, Eternal found me an opponent, so I can finally fight.” 

With Alavi feeling cold-shouldered by most of his potential matchups in Australia, the ever-ready Justin “Lockjaw” Van Heerden was more than happy to answer the bell – a revelation that surprised nobody familiar with the Freestyle MMA product. 

“I know him, he’s been around for a long time, he’s an experienced guy,” said Alavi of his next opponent. 

“He’s a good fighter, he’s experienced, and I respect him because he accepted to fight me. I really appreciate him.” 

While the respect for his next opponent was evident, Alavi was not about to mince his words when it came to his intentions inside the Eternal MMA cage. 

“I respect this guy, but he said I’m not on his level and he’s going to break me, so I’m going to punish him. I’m going to show him what his level is and I’m going (for the) kill. I’m going to finish him as soon as I can. I’m going to make sure all the people (watching) enjoy what’s going to happen.” 

“After this fight, I’m going to be 8-0. I’ll have finished all my opponents. So, after this – because I’ll have proved I’m the best featherweight in Australia, I really believe (I’ll be) ready to fight in the biggest show in the world – the UFC. 

“So, let’s see what’s going to happen. If they give me the chance, I’m going to show the world how good I am.” 

“Just make sure 16th of July, be there, or watch on the stream because it’s going to be a beautiful finish.” 

Eternal 67 main card will be streamed July 16th live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass

Lockjawed and Loaded:  Justin Van Heerden looks to continue the momentum at Eternal 67. 

 June 16th will see Eternal MMA return to Queensland with a stacked fight card at the GC Sports & Leisure Centre. 

Occupying one-half of the co-main event at Eternal 67, Justin Van Heerden will be looking to secure his third victory in a row against undefeated Eternal MMA debutant – Mohammad Alavi. 

A fourteen-fight veteran of the game with seven of his professional bouts taking place inside the Eternal MMA cage, Van Heerden has become one of the mainstays of the featherweight division in Australian MMA. 

Known for his exceptional grappling and suffocating Jiu-Jitsu, the man they now call “Lockjaw” has been living up to his name with two impressive submission victories to kick off his 2022 season on the right foot. 

The most recent of those wins came at Eternal 65 – a triangle choke in the second round against highly talented striker and widely respected UK and Australian MMA stalwart, Alan Philpott, saw Van Heerden’s stock rise considerably amongst fans pundits alike. 

Justin Van Heerden defeats Alan Philpott at Eternal MMA 65

Speaking with Eternal MMA, Van Heerden reflected on his success that he feels has been discredited by his most recent opponent. 

“He (Philpott) is sitting there on this podcast saying that he was winning the fight, he was outclassing me, he was piecing me up the whole fight, he had me hurt and nearly put away and that’s how he end up getting put in the triangle.” 

“I had to respond to that (and say) ‘look man, here’s the facts. You hit air for most of the fight. You hit me cleanly probably two or three times. 

“I made the adjustments at the end of the second round when I shot a takedown and got a hold of him. That sequence of me finishing that flight – that’s something that I was able to do in a calculated way because of the preparation and the work that I did leading up to that fight. 

“I was in camp for my last fight and Volk (Alexander Volkanovski) was in camp for (Brian) Ortega – obviously Ortega is a very good Jiu-Jitsu guy, so throughout the whole camp I was trying to throw up submissions from all sorts of crazy positions. 

“Ultimately that finish on Philpott – that came as a result of that work and the improvements that I made as I was helping my teammate improve for a title fight.” 

“I have this chip on my shoulder because people keep putting me as an underdog in these fights, and that’s fine, keep doing that because I’m going to keep proving people wrong,” 

2021 saw Van Heerden find a new gym in Freestyle MMA, home to UFC Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, as well as world renowned MMA coach, Joe Lopez. The duo of Volkanovski and Lopez would form the spearhead of Van Heerden’s coaching, before a longer than expected stay in North America would prevent the team from being in Van Heerden’s corner for his first run of fights under the Freestyle MMA banner. 

Freestyle MMA coaches Alexander Volkanovski & Joe Lopez

A disappointing first-round TKO loss to Rod Costa at Eternal 60 would be quickly turned around over his next two outings, a run that Van Heerden attributes to finally having his main coaches back in his corner. 

“Every fight, every time you compete, you want to improve, build on things, identify the things you did good, identify the things you did bad,” said Van Heerden 

“Post the fight with (Rod) Costa, when I came into the fight after that with Josh Riley and then my last fight with Philpott, it was the first time I could have my coaches in my corner.” 

“Joe and Alex were away for my first few fights under Freestyle and that makes a difference. I’m pretty experienced, I’ve been around the game for a bit now, but to not have your coaches with you giving those adjustments (and) identifying the things in the heat of the moment during the fight, that’s a bit of an adjustment you have to make yourself.” 

“I look at that fight (with Costa and think) if I was to run that fight back with my coaches by my side, I don’t see it going the same way. 

“I think that’s evident if you look at my last two performances. You could see that having Joe and Alex there with me in my corner, you could see the mid-fight adjustments that I made. I was able to capitalise and get the win and also finish the fight in both instances.” 

The benefit of having such a high calibre of training partner and coaching team in his corner is clearly not lost on Van Heerden. With Volkanovski in the prime of his career and Lopez continuing to be one of the masters of breaking down situations with his fight IQ, Van Heerden believes it is the perfect melting pot for him to succeed when combined with his own wealth of experience in combat sports. 

It is through these combined minds that Van Heerden forecasts an even bigger leap in his performances in the near future. 

“I think that’s why people would have seen the leaps I have made from fight to fight, especially so far this year in such quick succession,” said Van Heerden. 

“That’s why this fight (against Alavi) I think people are going to see the leaps of improvement again. 

“The Justin that’s going to walk into the cage on July 16th would run through the Justin that fought Alan Philpott inside one round. 

“It’s not even the same standard or the same sort of level. I’m not the same person, I’m not the same fighter. That’s what you want at the end of the day, and I feel like that’s the real benefit. 

“I’m in a place at Freestyle with my training partners, with the team that I have, with the coaching that I have – I’m able to continue to make those improvements because I’m just approaching it the same way. 

With four wins from his last five fights that have resulted in three finishes, Van Heerden believes that he is nowhere near his fighting prime or anywhere close to where he potential truly is. Still just twenty-eight years of age, the South African native fully expects to have many more fights ahead of him in his career. 

Of course, his immediate future holds a matchup with surging fellow featherweight, Mohammad Alavi. While he was complimentary of Alavi’s skill set, Van Heerden believes that it won’t be nearly enough to prevent him from getting his hand raised. 

“I’m a complete mixed martial artist,” said Van Heerden. 

“I’m fighting a dangerous guy, he’s undefeated. But I think that this fight is going to be another opportunity for me to showcase the levels of improvement I have made across the board. 

“Obviously, the wrestling, the grappling and that side of things is always going to be in my back pocket. That’s always going to be sharp – that’s always going to be something I can rely on. When it comes to my fight IQ, my distance management, my abilities on the feet now and the timing that I have. 

“The speed, the power – all that stuff is going to come through.” 

While Van Heerden is confident in the evolution of his complete skill set, he admits that he feels no need to reach for style points in the pursuit of victory. 

“For my ego, I don’t need to go out there and try to showcase something just for the sake of it or just to impress a few people and show that I can do something, I can capitalise on the opportunity’s as they present themselves.” 

“At the end of the day, if I want to take a hold of this dude, put him on his back and smash his face in for fifteen minutes, I can do that.” 

It’s no secret that Freestyle MMA has got its bases covered both internationally and locally when it comes to solid representation in combat sports. Of course, Alexander Volkanovski – the crown jewel of the Windang-based gym, recently defended his Featherweight title for the fourth time with a resounding decision win against Max Holloway at UFC 276

While Volkanovski is holding it down for the team overseas, Van Heerden is looking forward to continuing to make his own waves in his now adopted home country of Australia. A natural featherweight himself, Van Heerden believes a victory at Eternal 67 against Mohammad Alavi should leave no questions as to who the main man is in his weight class. 

“It puts me as the clear number one featherweight in the country,” said Van Heerden. 

“The only other fight on the regional circuit that would make sense next would be (Eternal Featherweight champion) Jack Jenkins, but as far as I know, he’s off to the races. 

“I think a win over Alavi puts me in a clear position of being the number one featherweight in the country and sets me up nicely. I’ll move to 10-5, I’ll be on a three-fight win streak and hopefully another finish. 

“I think people forget – I’m 4-1 in my last five with three finishes. I’m 8-3 at featherweight, a couple of my losses were up in weight on short notice.” 

“After this fight there can be no excuses. He’s a dangerous dude, he’s on a win streak, 7-0 and hasn’t experienced much adversity up until this point. 

“If I go out there and perform, beat him, finish him – which is what I’m aiming to do, that puts me as the best featherweight in the country.” 

Questioned as to how he sees himself getting his hand raised, Van Heerden visualises two clear paths to victory, with either outcome seemingly sitting just fine with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown-belt. 

“I’m either going to find an opening early and put him away with a submission or TKO, or it’s going to be fifteen minutes of brutal, brutal damage.” 

“If you haven’t already, I suggest you sort out your UFC Fight Pass, unless you are going to be at the event itself. Eternal MMA is the biggest promotion in the country for a reason. They are putting these crazy cards together and it’s an absolute privilege for me to be in a co-main slot again.” 

“Pay attention, stay tuned. I’m going to go out there and put another cracking performance on, get another finish and make my friends, family and all those supporting me a whole lot of money in the process.” 

Eternal 67 main card will be streamed July 16th live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass

SPOTLIGHT: Kuhne VS Dimps

Australia’s leading MMA promotion returns to the Gold Coast on March 7th for Eternal 65. 

Atop of the card stands one of the most highly anticipated matchups in recent memory, with two of  the most popular figures on the local Australian MMA scene set to thrill fans with their high-octane style and larger than life personalities. 

On paper, Josh Kuhne vs Dimps Gillies is a stand-up enthusiasts dream. Familiar fans will be more  than acquainted with both athletes’ penchant for setting a fast and furious pace with their boxing combined with a solid chin – on paper it reads of a paradox in the “unstoppable force meets an  immovable object” realm. 

Kuhne himself has quickly captured the imagination of local MMA fans across the country, especially  on the Gold Coast where he now calls home. 

A relentless knockout artist with devastating power and surgical precision, Kuhne has yet to find an  opponent who can survive his onslaught beyond the first round. With three wins as an amateur and three wins as a professional, Kuhne has won all of six of his bouts by knockout long before the  corner stool is ever needed.

Not a single fight has gone past the 1st Round for Kuhne.

Hot off the news that he will now be represented by management powerhouse – Paradigm Sports,  Kuhne spoke with Eternal MMA ahead of the highly touted matchup. 

“It’s probably the biggest jump that I’ve made in my career yet,” said Kuhne of his new management. 

“Paradigm is top tier management; they take on the biggest stars – the biggest names. So, to have  them on my team now working with someone like myself – who invests a lot into myself, to have a  team also investing themselves into me, I think it’s just going to be big things on the horizon.” 

Prior to an illness sidelining him for a short period, Kuhne was originally slated to compete at Eternal  64 against fellow lightweight – Blake Donnelly. With Donnelly himself now on the sidelines, Kuhne  was more than happy to take on a different challenge once he was cleared to fight. 

“As soon as I got healthy and was able to get back into the gym, I put my name straight back into the  mix for the next available option,” he said. 

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get Blake who was the original signed opponent due to an injury of his  own, hence why Dimps’ name got thrown into the mix. They’ve (Dimps Gillies’ team) been asking for  this fight for a while, so that was the fight to make. 

“I think it’s an exciting one, I think it’s the one the fans wanted to see. So, we signed it, we got done.” 

The upside of a fight against a fellow fan favourite in Dimps Gillies is far from lost on the man they  call “Kamikaze”. With fans eager to see two hardest hitting athletes go head-to-head inside the  Eternal cage, Kuhne is just as eager to meet an opponent who many believe will be by far his biggest  test to date.

The Kuhne VS Dimps bout is considered must-watch MMA.

“I think for anyone who’s ever seen Dimps fight and anyone who’s ever seen my fights, it’s a no  brainer,” said Kuhne. 

“I think it’s just something that people want to see. They want to see what happens when two trains  collide, they want to see what happens when two bulls lock horns, they want to see what happens  when two savages get locked in a cage. 

“We’ve got aggressive styles, we both move forward, we’re both hella-tough. He’s got a chin on him,  I’ve got a chin on me, and we both throw hell for leather, how’s that not exciting? 

“That’s what fans pay to see. The fans pay to see people like me, they pay to see people like Dimps.  We’re the ones who bring that violence, we’re the ones who bring that crowd and bring that noise,  so to put us up against each other…? Makes sense.” 

Fans are in for a treat this Saturday night.

A scary prospect for future opponents is that for the most part, Kuhne has achieved so much in a  small space of time without the guidance of a dedicated head coach up until now. Former Eternal  MMA lightweight and Australian combat sports legend – Brentin Mumford has taken the reigns of  Kuhne’s career now that he has retired as a competitor, an alignment that Kuhne feels he is  beginning to reap the benefits from. 

“It’s massive,” said Kuhne of his new coaching arrangement. 

“I’ve probably been blessed in a sense that (until now) I’ve got through my career to where I am on  my own account. Obviously there (has been) gym partners and coaches along the way that have  helped me. 

“But to just have that one voice of reason, just that one voice in my corner and just to have someone  game planning and guiding me through my whole camp start to finish, that’s been a game changer. 

“I’ve (gained) huge levels in my game from every aspect – setting traps, baiting people, working  different angles, the whole lot.  

“It’s all coming together. Having one voice, one coach – having Brentin who’s so experienced in the  lightweight division – who’s done it all, seen it all, been everywhere and just passing on that wealth  of knowledge to me, it’s humbling.” 

Kuhne feels right at home with the team at CMBT.

Time will tell exactly what level Kuhne has reached now that he has a mind like Brentin Mumford in his corner full time, but the benefit of a full training camp with a former title challenger at the helm  can surely not be overstated. Now with most of the hard work behind him, Kuhne had a message for  ahead of the blockbuster clash for new and old fans alike. 

“Expect fireworks. Expect to see two of the toughest dudes in Australia just go in there and beat the  shit out of each other (until) one of us comes out with their hand raised. 

“At the end of the day, this is a mixed martial arts match and it’s going to be the person with the  most well-rounded skill set (who wins).” 

“I’ve got Brentin Mumford in my corner, he’s my coach, I’m going to be listening to his voice of  guidance. Wherever the fight plays, wherever the fight takes me – it takes me.”

“If it means something else causes the finish and it’s not a knockout? So be it. Maybe it is a sub, maybe it’s not, maybe it goes the distance. 

“Let’s just see how it plays out, but I’m not going in there with any intentions to do anything but give  it my all.” 

Meeting him across the cage in the other half this highly combustible equation will be Eternal MMA  mainstay and wildly popular crowd favourite – Dimps Gillies. 

A well-travelled veteran of the game with a wealth of experience in combat sports, Gillies will be  looking to put his own stamp on what will be his second main event as a professional. 

Dimps’ last Main Event saw him score a Knockout in under a minute.

A multiple time “fight of the night” award winner, the NTG Fight and Fitness product never finds  himself in a boring fight. Armed with ferocious power, quick hands and slick head movement, Gillies has long held a reputation of being one of the most exhilarating fighters to watch on the Australian  MMA regional scene. 

Speaking with Eternal MMA, Gillies was as humble as ever as he looked ahead to the match. “A main event is always big,” said Gillies. 

“I’m grateful for the platform and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to perform in a main  event and share the ring with Josh Kuhne. I’ve admired from the sidelines, from cage-side – I was  there for most of his fights. 

“I didn’t really think I was going to fight him in my career because I was more just a fan of his work.  But my team – they see an opportunity here to get my name (back) at the top again and get the right  exposure. All the right eyes should be watching on May 7th

“It was an opportunity I had to jump at, and it was one that I couldn’t miss.” 

Anybody who is familiar with Dimps Gillies will know that it is the stand-up game that he truly lives  for. Recent ventures into the world of professional boxing while still have all played a part in honing  his craft as an elite striker, with classic boxing traits often on display as he competes as a mixed  martial artist. 

Asked of the prospect of fighting a fellow stand-up specialist, Gillies was resolute in his enthusiasm  for another potential fight of the night contender. 

“For sure, I know what to expect. When I say that, I can’t predict anything, but I know it’s going to be  a vibe and half for everyone that’s watching and tuning in.” 

“Usually, I’m the guy that comes forward and I don’t take a step back. In his perception that’s what  he does and in my perception that’s what I do, so it’s going to be hard to say what happens. But I  know there’s going to be violence and I know there’s going to be explosive action. 

“I’m ready for it and I can’t wait. It does get me out of bed in the morning and it does get my arse to  the gym. I’m excited and I’m ready for this matchup.” 

Dimps is driven to perform for his gym.

A fiercely loyal character by nature, the opportunity to represent his team at NTG Fight and Fitness  at any time is something that Gillies doesn’t take for granted. Given the opportunity on the main stage, Gillies is aware of the exposure it creates for his team, and he plans on showing out for his  gym regardless of the outcome. 

“I believe that loyalty is key, and I am going to keep playing my part and doing my best to perform  for my gym. If I don’t win, it doesn’t matter. As long as I lose and it was a fight where I didn’t leave  anything in there, I didn’t leave with regrets, I didn’t question myself after.” 

“If I can perform even when I lose and put on a show, then I still give that exposure to my team. It’s  something that I strive for. To me, it’s more important than winning, but others don’t think like me.” 

Fans can rest assured that Dimps Gillies is always coming into the building to put on a show. His  humble and sunny disposition is something of a stark contrast to the violence he brings whenever he  steps foot inside the confines of the Eternal MMA cage. While Gillies needs no help in turning up for  a scrap, it’s the fans in attendance the get him going the most. 

“The fans give their energy and that rowdiness, especially in the MMA scene as opposed to the  boxing,” he said. 

Dimps is fueled by the roar of the crowd.

“I love it. When you hear those chants and you hear those cheers and you hear those roars, you’re  doing something right. In my head, those people pay good money to come watch us. In my head, if  they weren’t paying that money, we wouldn’t have this platform. In my head, they are another  prime example of who we are there performing for.” 

“I just want to say a big thanks to everyone and anyone who follows the local combat sports scene in  Australia and even worldwide – but the local shows mostly because we’re not that big, we’re not that recognised.  

“The more people that do tune in, the better it is for everyone involved in the business – the  fighters, the promoters, the trainers, the gyms, the coaches and everyone. We all play our part and  it’s a part we should play to make we get the best out of combat sports in Australia.” 

Kuhne vs Gillies main card will be streamed live and exclusive March 7th on UFC Fight Pass.

Phar Beyond Driven: Featherweight champion Jack Jenkins looks to the future after dominant title defence at Eternal 64.

Watch me.” 

The resounding message was loud and clear from Jack Jenkins during the post fight formalities following his successful title defence at Eternal 64. 

A dominant five-round display from the champion was punctuated with a statement of intent, as he took the opportunity on the microphone to remind the naysayers that this is just the beginning. 

The consensus was that Rod Costa was going to be by far and away the biggest test for Jenkins up  until this point in his professional career and at least on paper, that was an accurate assessment. What transpired in the cage however, painted somewhat of a different picture.

Just the beginning, for Jack Jenkins.

Let’s not get it twisted, Rod Costa is as high level as it comes in terms of what Eternal MMA and by  extension, what Australian MMA in general has to offer. A world champion Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with a much-improved striking base, coupled with an unwavering in-ring confidence and a  recent catalogue of impressive wins, Rod Costa was the clear number one contender to Jenkins’ belt. 

By the end of the night on March 19th we were reminded just how true the adage is – there are levels  to this game. The sheer fact of the matter is, Jack Jenkins has evolved levels above his competition in  Australia within his weight class. That’s not hyperbole – that is fact, proven with a superior display of  technique, power, speed, cardio and fight IQ against one of the toughest veterans in the country. 

From the opening bell until the closing curtains (save for a late takedown from the challenger in the  final minute of the fight), it was all one-way traffic from the champion. The opening round provided  early answers as to what direction the highly anticipated bout was going to take – elite level boxing from the champ seamlessly mixed in with patented calf kicks, constant stance switching, head movement and range management all had Costa on the back foot from the get-go.

Jenkins’ calf kicks had a noticeable effect early.

For the viewers at home and at cage side, it was apparent that Jenkins had raised the bar in his  striking game once again. Landing head and body shots at will, Jenkins put on a master class with his  hands with deadly accuracy while never overexerting himself. The jab was precise, the combinations  were ever present and the extensions on the body shots from both hands were a sight to behold,  finding a home for them to the liver and rib cage of Costa on multiple occasions. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Jack Jenkins fight without the use of devastating leg kicks to his  opponent. It should be noted that prior to the fight, Costa went on record stating that he would  never quit as a result of the heavy leg kicks he may endure from Jenkins. Credit to the Scrappy MMA  product, he held true to his word, but by the end of round one it was clear that his lead leg was  already severely compromised due to the onslaught of shots they had received from Jenkins. 

The leg kicks would be a reoccurring theme through the remainder of the fight, with only the heart  of Costa keeping him on his feet as both legs were severely damaged by Jenkins in each round. It  was the perfect plan from Jenkins, the damage sustained by Costa to both legs would cause him to  adopt a square posture in the later stages of the fight, seemingly without a lead leg in his stance for  much of the remainder. 

On the occasion that Costa was able to find himself a window of offence, it was largely dealt with by  the slick head movement and distance management of Jenkins at almost every juncture. Takedown attempts were turned away with relative ease by the champion, thwarting any chance of Costa  getting the fight to the ground where he is known to do his best work. 

But therein lies another challenge for anyone who faces such a well rounded mixed martial artist as  Jenkins. For as good as Costa is on the ground, it’s seemingly a matter of “pick your poison” when it  comes to where the biggest threat lies when facing a man of Jenkins’ skill set. He doesn’t have any  perceived weak spots in his game at this point in his career. 

Distance-management and takedown defence was on full display at Eternal 64.

It wouldn’t be until the dying minutes of the final round before Jenkins found himself facing any kind  of adversity from his opponent. The relentless will of Costa to battle through four and half rounds  out on his feet saw him able to mount one final act of desperation with a takedown against the cage.  It was a case of too little too late however, Jenkins merely had to cause a stalemate in the dying  seconds as he cruised to a unanimous decision victory. 

A country boy at heart, Jenkins was on the first flight back home to Victoria the morning after his  title defence. The big city lights of the Gold Coast may set the perfect scene for the champion to  show what he is made of in the cage, but it is back home in the quiet countryside where Jenkins  finds himself again. 

Now back in his hometown of Bacchus Marsh, Victoria – Jenkins was able to reflect on his  performance from the serenity of his own home. Speaking with Eternal MMA, Jenkins cut a figure of calm confidence as he summed up his big win while setting his sights on the immediate future. 

“My mindset hasn’t really changed from the immediacy after the fight through till now. It only took  me five minutes after the fight before I turned to one of my friends and said, ‘this is want I want to do, I need to get back to training by Wednesday-Thursday and start getting ready for whatever’s  next.’ 

“My attitude hasn’t really changed on (my outlook on the fight) since the fight itself to be honest.  I’m really happy with that performance, but this is just the start for me so there’s no time to take the  foot off the gas, so it’s just straight (back) into it.” 

The challenge that was put in front of Jenkins at Eternal 64 came as nothing as surprise to himself or  his team. Rod Costa has made a name for himself as being one of the hardest opponents to put away  in the sport, a prospect the champion was more that ready to deal with. 

“It played out pretty much exactly as my coaches prepared me for, to be honest,” said Jenkins. 

“We (our team) spoke and we knew Rod was tough and wasn’t going to go away easily, so we  trusted in the fact that my conditioning would hold out for the full five rounds – If I needed to take it  to the end of the fifth, I would still be there and still be able to stick to my game plan, which was to  use my hands to keep him on the outside, then punish him with my kicks when I got a chance to. 

“So, it went pretty much exactly as we prepared for, I just don’t think that you can ever prepare for  someone to take as much damage as Rod did and keep coming (forward). So, credit to him for that,  he was as tough as they come.” 

As impressive as the striking display was from Jenkins for the entire length of the fight, it was  nothing new in the eyes of the team from Absolute MMA. While the sharp-handed skills were on full  display for the full twenty-five minutes, Jenkins believes that while this may have been his best 

performance to date, the heavy arsenal he possesses has long been a part of his tool belt behind  closed doors. 

“Definitely it’s the sharpest I’ve felt,” he said. 

“I think Cam O’Neill from Eternal made a comment to my striking coach Andy, he said ‘wow, that’s  the best Jack’s ever looked, he’s improved so much’. I think Andy replied and said, ‘he’s been that  good for a long time, I think that was just his first chance to really show it.’ 

“But there were definitely minor improvements. It wasn’t (as if) from the last time everyone saw me  I’ve just turned my boxing around and done a one-eighty and gained all these skills, that’s not the  case at all. It’s just probably the first time I was able to find the range early with my hands instead of  my kicks and put the pressure on with them.” 

“That’s what I’m most happy with about the fight – that I got to fully show what my hands are  capable of. The fact that I was able to mix up the levels, changing from the head to the body to the  leg. The stances – going from southpaw to orthodox and just giving him all those different looks, it  just showed the variability of my skill set and that I can do it at a high pace for five rounds.” 

Jack says his Eternal 64 performance was “the sharpest I’ve ever felt.”

Perhaps the only thing as powerful as the performance itself was the message that Jenkins had for  his detractors in the post fight interview with in-ring announcer – Luke Toohey. There was no waiting  around for a line of questioning, Jenkins simply had a strong message for the doubters he believes  have followed him at every juncture in his career. 

“I felt that I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder,” said Jenkins. 

“I felt like some of the pundits and these MMA pages were talking about this fight like Rod was the  favourite and that this was Rod’s fight to lose. I just felt that it wasn’t the case at all.” 

“I was doing a lot of running as I always do to get ready for a fight and every time I thought about someone saying, ‘Rod’s the favourite’ or ‘Jack’s running from Rod’, all of that sort of stuff, I just  thought ‘wait and see in this fight, watch me, you’re going to see.’ 

And “see”, everyone did. An eye-opening performance for not only local fans, but dedicated fight  fans all around the world eager to see the new breed of international fighters coming through the  ranks. With Eternal MMA now being broadcast across the globe on UFC Fight Pass, it was the perfect  platform for Jenkins to showcase his abilities to a wider audience. 

Of course, it is no secret as to where Jack Jenkins sees his long-term future. Long standing  aspirations to fight with the best in UFC are still at the forefront of his plans – an uncompromising  mindset that is unlikely to waver any time soon. With his recent dominant displays on home soil and  a belief that he is the clear best Australian featherweight on the local scene, Jenkins believes his  chance may come sooner rather than later. 

“I’ve never fought anyone younger than me,” Jenkins professed. 

“I’ve always fought dudes older than me. Every single one of my fights, they’ve all been older than  me. 

“If you look at anyone younger than me, there’s not a coach in Australia who’s going to let one of  those young up and comers at featherweight fight me before I leave. The writing is on the wall that 

I’m going to get a UFC shot, so why would you let a young kid who’s coming up fight me if you can  just wait for me to get my shot and go? 

“As far as I’m concerned, since the pandemic started, I’m the featherweight that showed up at every  chance and took on the challenges and won the fights and won them all dominantly. 

“I’m not just beating these guys – I’m breaking them, so I think it’s my turn to get my shot.” 

If there are still any doubters after his latest performance, one may simply turn to the current  reigning UFC featherweight champion for his opinion on Jack Jenkins. Fellow Australian – Alexander  “The Great” Volkanovski relies on Jenkins as an occasional sparring partner in preparation for his  own fights.  

With Jenkins slated to return to New South Wales to help Volkanovski prepare for his next title  defence at UFC 273, it was the champ himself who was one of the first to send Jenkins a word of  congratulations after his big win at Eternal 64. 

“Alex messaged me after my fight and said that he thought it was a flawless performance and a  masterclass, so I was really happy to get that feedback from him. Obviously getting praise like that  from the champion of the world means a lot. 

“In the coming days if I can get of this swelling out of my hands, I’ll probably head up to Wollongong  and help him finish off his camp.” 

With his shot at an international career seemingly on the horizon, Jenkins has a firm understanding  as to how his skill set matches up with the current crop of talent on the UFC roster. An avid fan of  the sport itself, Jenkins has always kept an eye on his future competition and who he believes he is  comparable to as a mixed martial artist. 

“I think I’m top fifteen ready right now,” said Jenkins emphatically. 

“You’ve got to go in there and earn your stripes, but I think I’m top fifteen ready right now. So, it’s  just a matter of getting in there and proving it.” 

“I probably sit somewhere between a Chad Mendes and a Jose Aldo,” said Jenkins when asked who  international fans could compare his style to. 

“I probably kick like an early version of Jose, but I probably move a bit more latterly and go to the  body a bit more like Chad Mendes. Those were the two main guys when I really started getting into  the UFC – I think I blend a style between those two.” 

There’s a lot to like for fight fans when it comes to Jenkins both in terms of his acumen as a combat  sports athlete and as a human being. A professional who carries himself with an astute confidence  without ever being cocky, a humble competitor who will always give his opponents credit where it’s  due. Jack Jenkins really does embody what it means to be potential representative of Australian  MMA on the biggest stage of them all. 

The current state of MMA in Australia is being touted as being in somewhat of a “golden age” by  media and fans alike. Jenkins plans on being a part of the new wave to join the ranks and put an  even bigger stamp on the map for this corner of the world. 

“I think I’m top-fifteen ready right now.”

As for his own legacy, Jenkins knows exactly what he wants to leave behind when it is all said and  done. 

“I want to be a world champ,” he said. 

“First and foremost, I want to win that UFC belt. I want to fight in Vegas, I want to fight at Madison Square Garden, and I want to sell out Marvel Stadium.” 

Any doubts that Jack Jenkins will achieve all his lofty goals? 

Watch him.

BRENTIN MUMFORD: A DECADE IN THE GAME

After a year delayed by fight cancellations and border closures, Eternal MMA’s perennial lightweight contender, Brentin Mumford finally gets his shot at the Eternal lightweight championship this Saturday at Eternal MMA 63.

Originally scheduled to challenge former champion Dan Hill at Eternal MMA 61, Mumford was forced to pull out of the fight due to Australia’s COVID-19 border restrictions. 

In his place stepped Perth lightweight, Jack Becker, who managed to defeat Hill in a one-round firefight which ended when Becker stopped Hill with a devastating barrage of punches that folded the former champion on the canvas.

Mumford has been forced to wait, before making his next walk to the cage.

Having come up short in his last two attempts at winning Eternal gold, Mumford will be hoping that third time’s the charm when he challenges Becker, but the 34-year-old veteran knows time isn’t on his side, and that this fight could be his last. 

“If I do retire, It’ll be nice to go out with a win. I’m 34; I’ve poured 10 years into this sport and this will be my nineteenth fight, so this could be it. But I’m only focusing on this fight, and when the dust settles on Sunday we’ll see what’s next.” Mumford said.

When asked how he felt about sharing the cage with Mumford for what could be his last outing, the champion Becker was in no mood for sentimentalities. 

“Fairytale endings and narratives are irrelevant; sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. You take what you can on the day and that’s why I love this sport. It makes men.” Becker said.  

Mumford, who trains at CMBT Training Centre, is also excited to share the card with his teammates. 

“Having the six of us on the card – me, Josh Kunhe, Darcy Vendy, Tristan Murphy, Jayden Tillinger and Jesse Yada – is going to be unreal! The energy and the vibe of the gym has been amazing… we’ve all been helping each other prepare and game plan for our fights.

Brentin’s looking forward to the home-crowd energy

“We’re fighting at home, in front of our home crowd and that always brings another level of energy! What better way than to ride off into the sunset headlining a card with five of your team mates. It’s going to be a great night.” Mumford exclaimed.

If this is to be Mumford’s last fight, it’ll be a sad day for Australian MMA. Mumford has been a constant presence in the Australian MMA scene for the last decade, sharing the cage with some of Australia’s best lightweights. This weekend’s fight will also mark his eighth appearance for Eternal MMA, making him one of the promotion’s most dependable and durable veterans. 

Eternal 61 Recap: A Fan’s Perspective

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend Eternal MMA 61 at Southport Sharks, an eventful night marked by excellent fights and capped off with a title change.

For those who haven’t been to an Eternal MMA show, the experience is vastly different to what you see on television. There is an energy inside the building which can’t be replicated at home – the brisk sound of the mat; the sound of leather hitting flesh; the intensity of the crowd. 

My only other live MMA experience was watching UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium in 2019. Though it had all the bells and whistles that come with a UFC show, particularly a stadium show, the scale of the stadium meant good seats were few and far between, (and ridiculously expensive too boot) and for most of the night I was stuck watching a screen. 

And though there were screens at this event, I didn’t use them much. Why would I have to?  The intimate atmosphere of the venue, the Southport Sharks Event Centre, meant regardless of where you sat, you were close to the action – good seats all around.

“The energy inside the building can’t be replicated at home.”

When I first entered the venue, I happened to find the then-lightweight champion and one half of the main event, Dan Hill, relaxing at the back of the room, relaxing watching the preliminary fights unfold. It was an unusual sight. 

Then I grabbed my seat and found Dimp Gillies, one half of the co-main event, sitting with his family watching the fight. 

A reminder that these fighters are fans just like the rest of us, and a visual reminder of who these men fight for. 

On a regional show, one might think that the quality of fighters might be lacking. I can assuredly tell you that this is not the case. 

Top to bottom the fights were competitive and compelling encounters, especially the fight between Diego Pereira and Abdalla Eltigani, where Eltigani appeared to be coasting before falling into Pereira’s heel hook in the second round which ultimately stopped the fight. 

Diego Pereira cinches up a fight-ending heel hook submission.

In the week leading up to the fight, I had a chance to sit down with Pereira and discuss his bout with Eltigani. He told me it was the perfect fight to showcase his ground game, something he hadn’t had the chance to do in previous fights. 

The card wasn’t without controversy either, which occurred in the main event when Jack Becker finished then-Eternal lightweight champion, Dan Hill, in the first round with a barrage of punches, followed up by an unfortunate knee to the head which appeared to land after Hill collapsed into the cage.

Though Becker is returning to defend his new lightweight championship in November against Brentin Mumford at Eternal 63, it would be fantastic to see a rematch. 

Of course, being stopped in the first round never bodes well for a rematch claim, but there were variables which support Hill’s case. For one, it was his first loss – a controversial one at that. And secondly, the late replacement Becker was arguably a tougher opponent than the previously scheduled, Mumford. That’s certainly a fight I’d like to see again. 

Jack Becker gets his hand raised in the main event.

The highlight of the night was Dom Mar Fan’s – who also won Performance of the Night – performance against Tasar Malone on the preliminary card. It was a smooth and dominant performance capped off by an excellent triangle choke submission in the second round. Certainly someone to keep an eye on. 

Eternal MMA is Australia’s premier MMA promotion for a reason. The matchmaking is excellent, the events are well-organised (kudos to Cam, Ben & co. for persevering through the setbacks) and the production is top notch too.  

And for MMA fans living in South-East Queensland who haven’t attended an Eternal show,  I have to ask: what on earth are you waiting for? 

Diego Pereira: The Rise Of El Pantera Negra

Diego Pereira (6-4) is a natural performer. Need proof? Just watch any of his past fights. The Brazilian fighter who now calls Australia home holds the record for the fastest knockout in Eternal MMA history, finishing Nix Agulto nine seconds into their bout with a vicious kick to the head. His last performance in the cage – a spirited loss to Jack Jenkins for the Eternal featherweight championship – was voted Eternal’s best fight of the year and the first fight in the promotion’s history to see a fourth round.

But in a year halted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent fight cancellations, ‘El Pantera Negra’ (The Black Panther) makes his return to the cage this weekend when he fights Abdalla Eltigani (2-0) at Eternal MMA 61, a fight which he hopes will put his MMA career back on track.

Conventional wisdom would assume that Pereira has an easy task ahead of him on Saturday night – a consequence of his opponent’s relative inexperience – but there are dangers to fighting untried opponents. For one, tape on Eltigani is scarce, making him an unknown quantity to a degree. This is also the biggest fight of Eltigani’s young career, a prospect which makes him a dangerous opponent.

But Pereira understands this conundrum better than most and is preparing diligently for Eltigani by formulating a game plan based on the little tape available.

“We’re solid. There’s a few fights on Fight Pass, a few on YouTube. And though I haven’t fought any one as a professional with his physicality – being tall, lanky, a kickboxer – but as an amateur I have. And I feel like my IQ is on another level right now.”

Pereira also expects to finish Eltigani. “I think I’ll finish it inside two rounds, but I’m ready for everything. I’ll be ready if the fight goes the distance, but I have too many weapons, too many ways with which to win the fight, and though he’s a very talented young man, he’s never faced the high-level guys that I have, and he doesn’t have the experience that I have.”

This will also be the first time that Pereira has fought in over a year. In his last outing – the loss to Jenkins – Pereira suffered both a broken jaw and a hairline fracture in his right fibula, with both occurring early in the fight.

“We went to war in that fight; we made history; it was the first time that an Eternal fight had seen the fourth round.

“I suffered some pretty gnarly injuries, but I wanted it so bad. I had trained so hard, but it got to a point where my jaw was so loose that any touch to it hurt… I wanted to keep going but it was an instinct of survival where the body took over and shut down.”

However, the injuries sustained during the fight became a blessing in disguise, allowing Pereira to reset and evaluate the shortcomings in his past performances. He believes a major factor in his past defeats was how he approached the sport. Until now, he had neglected the mental aspect of combat and instead focused on the physical and technical aspects.

“The mind is like a computer: it runs everything, so if you know how to manipulate that feeling before you get to the event through breathing and visualization, it’s going to help the performance a lot more. Technically I was already at a high level, but it’s been about understanding things which help when it comes to situations where it feels like you’re about to jump off a cliff. It’s risky. You have that cold feeling in your stomach like you’re on a roller coaster.”


Growing up in Guararapes, São Paulo, Pereira lived with his mother, grandmother, and siblings. Throughout his childhood, money was always scarce. “Where I grew up in Brazil was a rough area. I come from poverty; we had enough to get by, but it was always a tight situation – we were always living cheque to cheque.”

School wasn’t a priority in Pereira’s life either, instead he left school to work odd jobs to support his family. “At 16 I dropped out of school and my mother told me that if I wasn’t going to go to school, then I would have to work and help around the house which was fine by me.”

Diego (far right – in the glasses) with his older brother and cousin on a rare BBQ day in Brazil.

Pereira’s first job was working part-time delivering food on a bicycle throughout his hometown, a job his mother had sorted for him. “I thought it was amazing. The restaurant had amazing food and they would feed us too, and at the end of each week I would have some money. Some went to my mother, and some went to myself so I could play video games and eat food we usually couldn’t afford like biscuits and candy.” 

As a teenager, Pereira didn’t care for MMA. In fact, he knew nothing about it. He hadn’t heard of jiu-jitsu, nor the Brazilian icon, Royce Gracie. “To me it didn’t exist. I didn’t seek it; I didn’t have friends who did it. I’m sure it was popular, but to me it didn’t exist. I wasn’t watching any TV; I was oblivious to it.”

Pereira was introduced to combat sports through capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art dating back to the sixteenth century, first practiced by slaves during Portuguese rule in Brazil.

The martial art is distinguished by its acrobatic play, its extensive use of groundwork, as well as sweeps, kicks, and headbutts. Though unlike most martial arts, capoeira is more akin to a dance than a fight. As such, music is an integral feature and functions as its soundtrack, to culturally guide its participants through lyrics which acknowledge slavery, spirituality, and the sport itself.

Later, through a government initiative which aimed to keep Brazilian youth off the streets, Pereira was introduced to kung-fu and ballet. “At the time I was only interested in doing kung fu, but to do kung fu I also had to do ballet and as a kid I didn’t want to do ballet. And as a kid you have all these misconceptions about it, but it was amazing.”

Diego after winning his first kung-fu medal.

Pereira’s journey to Australia began around this time too, a move which irreversibly altered his life. “My uncle was here in Australia already. He moved to work in the meatworks, because at the time Australia needed skilled workers in the area, so they had to outsource guys to come over here and work, and my uncle was one of those people.”

Realising how much the move would benefit Pereira and his siblings as it had for him, Pereira’s uncle planned for Pereira and his siblings to settle in the country. “My uncle was supporting us a lot at the time and figured that we could come to Australia as his dependents. To do so he had to prove that we depended upon him financially, and at first my older brother was able to leave and joined my uncle working in the meatworks.”

Two years later, his uncle offered Pereira the same opportunity as his brother, but it was dependent on Pereira returning to school. “At the time I quit my jobs and went to night school to finish my high school degree. So, I went back, started studying more; I went to a different city and started living with my aunt, and before I could complete my studies, my uncle called me and said I was good to go.”

In Australia, Pereira joined his uncle and elder brother and began working at the meatworks. This is where Pereira first became aware of mixed martial arts. “A guy I was working with told me about Anderson Silva, who was the champion at the time, and whether I was familiar and I wasn’t, and that’s how I got interested in MMA. Then when I got home I started researching and digging, finding out about Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, and I thought maybe I should do that.”

Once discovering MMA, Pereira began searching for a gym and trained around Queensland for the next few years.

With the support of his uncle, Pereira was able to quit his job and dedicated himself to mixed martial arts full time. He ventured back to Brazil to train at the legendary Rio De Janeiro gym, Nova União. Home to some of Brazil’s greatest mixed martial arts talent, including Jose Aldo and Renan Barao.

But having adjusted to life in Australia, Pereira found it difficult to live in Brazil. “I really loved the training, but I didn’t like the environment. I wasn’t living in the slums of Rio, but there was too much traffic, too many people and I began feeling lonely, so I started thinking back to life in Australia and decided I didn’t want to be here anymore.”

Afterwards, Pereira returned to Queensland and became an Australian citizen. This allowed him to begin searching for gyms in the United States to continue developing his craft, something that wasn’t possible in Queensland.

“After looking around, I came across Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They had dorm rooms which I thought sounded perfect because I could sleep upstairs, go downstairs and train. So, I figured out how much it would cost, and I contacted them and got accepted because you had to be invited.”

When Pereira arrived at Jackson-Wink, he understood how different his life would be for the next few months. “Every time you go down the stairs you see guys like Andrei Arlovski, Jon Jones, Alistair Overeem, Holly Holm, all of these stars. And then to see Greg Jackson, Mike Winkeljohn, all these guys you’d see coaching in the UFC, it was like wow I’ve made it. I’m actually here.

“Living in that environment was extremely new and extremely outside of my comfort zone. For the first month I hated it, sometimes I felt unsafe, there were some weird dudes there, some crazy motherfuckers, but it was a good growth period for me personally. I figured out that I was my own man and that I could handle my shit there.”

In Queensland, the gym Pereira has called home for the past decade is Southside MMA. He credits his coaches Paul Stolyar and Damage Maea – affectionately called ‘Uncle Dez’ – for his development in the sport.

“They’ve influenced me so much, Paul’s such a passionate coach and such a selfless being and we’ve done so much growth together. Those two are the heart of Southside MMA, if not for them the team would have fallen apart. They’ve influenced me so much, not just as an athlete but also a person through how they carry themselves in and out of the gym.

“And Uncle Dez was so supportive. When I was overseas, he would help me out financially whenever I needed it and he always believed. And when I got back he was the first to stick his hand out and help me and start doing pads.”

L to R: Uncle Dez, Diego, Paul Stoyler

All these experiences have led Pereira to Eternal MMA 61 this Saturday.

“I’m now reaching my prime, I’m 29 so right now I have everything coming full circle: the mental, the physical; I’m comfortable in my own body. Everything is coherent now.

“I’m constantly running scenarios in my brain: everything from the walk out; the music; the taste; my heartbeat; can I feel those emotions? Can I hear the people screaming my name?”

‘Will there be any signs of rust?’ I ask. “No rust.” Pereira tells me.

Stream the Eternal 61 main card live on UFC Fight Pass – Saturday Sep 11.