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.

SPOTLIGHT: Kepu vs James

It hasn’t been without its challenges, but Eternal 61 is finally upon us. And with that comes a slew of tantalising matchups that promise to have the mouths of fight fans watering.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen some unfortunate cancelations and postponements to several fights, including the push back to a later date for the upcoming event itself.

But with the card now firmly locked into place, one matchup that is sure to produce fireworks is Nick Kepu vs Jack James.

The two exciting middleweight prospects have been tasked with kicking off the main card this Saturday, and both are looking to make a big impression in front of a packed crowd at Southport Sharks.

With Kepu having already made his pro debut against Sam Dobb at Eternal 57 – an absolute showstopper in which he emerged victorious by way of split decision, the hard hitting Muay Thai Mulisha stalwart will be looking to capitalise on his momentum with a big win against Jack James.

‘Slick’ Nick Kepu is coming off a crowd-pleasing performance at Eternal 57.

“I just don’t see enough power in his striking to take me out” – Kepu told Eternal MMA when questioned about his upcoming opponent. “I just feel like I’m going to walk him down, stalk him, and pretty much take him out in either the first or the second (round). That’s just my honest opinion.”

On his goals with Eternal MMA, Kepu was measured in his approach to the future.

“The goal with Eternal is obviously to fight the champ whenever Cam (Eternal MMA promotor – Cam O’Neill) gives me that opportunity. But I don’t look past my next opponent. My job this weekend is Jack James. I just need to get the job done and then after that we can start talking from there. But until then, I don’t really look too far.”

Making his pro debut on the other side of the cage, Jack James is looking at making his own waves within the Eternal MMA organisation. The young up and comer is ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

Jack James is confident he’ll get his hand raised at Eternal 61. Source: @bangjackjits

When asked of his impressions on his upcoming opponent, James had the following to say, “We’ve got a game plan sorted for him.”

“I just think once I start picking up the volume and (implement) heaps of movement and get a takedown or two, he won’t be able to keep up.”

When asked if he had a prediction on how he see’s his hand being raised, James gave a confident, matter of fact answer,

“Ground and pound.”

James has lofty goals of his own when it comes to his Eternal MMA career, mirroring the sentiments of his Eternal 61 adversary,

“I want to keep fighting pro, I want to win the belt.” Said James.

“Middleweight 84 kilo champion.”

With both athletes full of confidence and their sights firmly set on each other, as well as a successful run against Eternal MMA’s middleweight elites, this is a fight that simply cannot be missed.

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

SPOTLIGHT: HILL VS BECKER

It’s a new opponent, but the same goal for Eternal lightweight champion Dan Hill (5-0).

Due to COVID-19 interstate travel restrictions, Hill will now defend his Eternal MMA lightweight title against Jack Becker (8-2) at Eternal MMA 61.

Originally scheduled to fight veteran lightweight Brentin Mumford, Hill will test his skills against another of Australia’s top lightweights when he steps in the cage with the internationally recognised Becker.

Jack Becker brings a wealth of experience into this title fight.

It’s a huge opportunity for Becker who told Eternal MMA,

“I believe I’m the toughest test of his career so far. He’s been tested before by Josh Togo who’s solid but not as solid everywhere as I am.”

On how he sees the fight playing out, Becker expects to finish the undefeated champion.

“I think the fight’s going to be a mixture of everything: grappling, striking. I don’t think it needs to stay anywhere for anyone but I do think there’ll be a finish.”

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Hill accepted the late replacement without hesitation, telling Eternal MMA,

“I accepted the fight straight away. I told them I’d fight anyone.”

The challenge of fighting Becker also excites Hill.

“I think this is a better fight for me. I think it’s a fight that will progress my career a lot more than the fight with Brentin  [Mumford] would and it’s something that makes me a lot more excited to get up and train for.”

Dan Hill is happy to take on all challengers in the Eternal Lightweight division.

It’s a huge blow for Mumford whose opportunity will have to wait for now, but promoter Cam O’Neill is hopeful about rescheduling a fight as soon as possible.

“Eternal MMA is committed to ensuring that our athletes get every opportunity to perform as we continue to adapt to the constantly challenging travel restrictions in Australia.”

“Unfortunately for Brentin, these restrictions have ruled him out of this fight but he will get the chance to challenge the winner for the title later this year.”

When asked about the replacement, O’Neill couldn’t be happier.

“We were lucky to be able to secure such an exciting replacement that is definitely worthy of the challenge.

“The Eternal lightweight division is the most exciting division in Australia and Dan Hill sits at the very top. His opponent, Jack Becker, comes into this fight hungry with a huge pedigree and is coming off an exciting win himself. What an exciting fight.”

Buy tickets to Eternal MMA 61 at Southport Sharks RSL club on September 11th (5pm start) OR stream the main card live on UFC Fight Pass.

On The Road Again

It was with an enormous amount of excitement that I jumped out of my bed at 5am on Wednesday 17th of March. I can assure you that it’s not often I am excited to wake up at 5am! The first ever ‘Eternal Fight Weekend’ was the cause of that excitement. An ambitious and ballsy move from the Eternal Team to put on two shows over two nights in the same venue, where four championship belts would be retained or rehomed. I can tell you sitting here post the event, we pulled it off!

Even travelling felt weird, living in WA every trip is a marathon, COVID had put a stop to my frequent travelling (I’d been on one plane trip since we kicked off 2020 with the three shows in three weeks). I definitely think travelling is like training, you get better at it the more you do it. Add to the usual discomfort of being sandwiched between two, usually oversized, FIFO workers the good old facemask and the hitleresque air stewardess shouting at you if it isn’t covering pretty much all your face and the fact that due to budget constraints the entertainment has been switched off, it makes for a torturous five hours. I’ve always been a terrible sleeper and struggle to sleep in my comfortable bed, so sleep is out of the question but I was excited and the trip passed really quickly.

Arriving at the beautiful Mantra at Sharks Hotel is always nice, I have stayed there so many times now I know all the staff and am made to feel super welcome. Up to the room, quick shower, dump bags and first meeting with Cam in the books it’s a restless night’s sleep and up for weigh-ins for Eternal 57. As seems to be the case this year we had a late pullout, this time in the bantamweight tournament. To add insult to ‘injury’ our replacement missed weight by nearly three kilos and the tournament was off and poor Shaun Etchell was without a fight but as small consolation would get first crack at the winner of Meech vs Hibberd which would now be for the belt. All other fighters made weight at the first time of asking and we had ourselves a show! The rest of the day was spent checking in teams for Saturday and prepping the venue for Friday night. Two shows in two nights seems full on, but add to that all the associated work that goes with it and you have two very stressed promoters running around like blue arsed flies. 

Friday morning and we were up with the sparrows to supervise the cage going in then back to Southport Sharks for Saturday’s weigh ins’. Don’t worry, I’m also confused and I was there. Saturday weigh-ins ran much smoother than Friday’s with all fighters making weight at the first time of asking. Friday’s card was strong but Saturday’s card was the best I’ve ever seen in domestic MMA in my 10 years down under. Post weigh-ins we headed back to Carrara Indoor Stadium to get things underway. I won’t go into the fights but you can catch them here but i will say the standard across the board from Fight 1 to Fight 8 was exceptional. Special mention must go to the Absolute MMA team with Sam Hibberd winning the bantamweight strap in spectacular fashion and Jack Jenkins with his first defence of his featherweight title, making short work of Jesse Medina in the much anticipated rematch. First night in the books and what a night, the atmosphere was through the roof and there were less than half the expected crowd for Saturday in attendance, which meant Saturday night would be wild. No time to celebrate, bed and an early rise for the crescendo.

I must just say that the Eternal 58 event was the finest fight card, on paper, we had ever put together. Every fight had the potential to blow the roof off the venue. Add to that close to 2000 fans and the stage was set for fireworks. Every single fight was above and beyond expectation and the bar was set high in Bout 1 and continued to rise all the way to what was one of the most intense main events we have ever witnessed. John Fraser stepped up to the biggest challenge of his career and took everything the vicious Kitt Campbell threw at him, weathered the early storm and paid Kitt back in spades in the late rounds to get his hands on the middleweight title recently vacated by now UFC fighter Isi Fitikefu. Fraser will be a hard man to dethrone and I look forward to his first defence. Congratulations must also go to Dan Hill with a come from behind fourth round submission of the hugely talented Josh Togo. Hill taking the lightweight strap from the Australian Top Team man. 

Eternal 58 was phenomenal and all fighters and coaches should be remarkably proud of their fighters. The standard in Australian MMA right now is outstanding. Now there will be some people reading this saying “But what about the slippy canvas?” and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the heroes on the internet with their opinions on what we should do and how we should have had a different material and all the other brain busting ideas. For those people let me tell you this, if you were upset, frustrated or pissed off by the canvas multiply your emotions by a million and you may get somewhere close to how Cam and I felt about it. We have used that canvas for 2 years and 8 shows and never had an issue, we also poured our heart, soul and money into this landmark weekend only to have to nearly call it off. Here at Eternal we are good, the best in the business but we can’t control the weather. The humidity was through the roof and it made the canvas like an ice rink. Credit to the fighters who changed game plans and pushed through those terrible conditions. Mumford and Dimps put on one of the finest scraps I’ve ever seen and they had the worst of it so props to those two beasts. Mumford will get the next shot at Dan Hill’s strap.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t so excited about the length of the trip home but knowing i’ll see the wife and kids helps with the monotony of it all. Also, being exhausted helps with the plane sleeping situation. In summary Eternal put on the biggest weekend of MMA that has ever been seen at a domestic level in Australia (outside of the UFC and even then I’d say it was close) and we put over $60,000 into the pockets of the fighters. This is what makes me proudest about the whole thing. I have always said Eternal is a show for the fighters run by fighters (Albeit many moons ago for Cam and I to have laced the gloves up in anger) and we feel very strongly about giving back to the sport we love so dearly. I need a rest but I can’t wait to do it all again, which won’t be a long wait as we go again in Melbourne, May 7th.