Eternal MMA 2022: A Year in Review

As Australian combat sports primes itself for a highly promising 2023, Eternal MMA reflects on a year gone by in which so many positives came to fruition for the country’s leading mixed martial arts entity.

2022 was certainly a banner year for the Gold Coast based promotion. A year that saw incredible match-making lead to even better fights, highlight-reel finishes, new champions in several weight classes and former local stars find success on the international stage.

In total, Eternal MMA produced nine fight cards across the states of Queensland and Western Australia, visiting three different venues in the process including four shows at Eternals spiritual home – Southport Sharks.

During this run, Eternal MMA saw a total number of one hundred and fifteen fights take place across seven different weight classes for both professional and amateur athletes.

Of those fights, six new champions were crowned against one successful title defence across five divisions, with the lightweight belt changing hands to the challenger twice in the same year.

It would be in the very first event for 2022, however, that would see the championship-level cream rise to the top and prove their pedigree once again. In what would ultimately be his final fight inside the Eternal MMA cage, Jack Jenkins put on a five-round masterclass to retain his featherweight crown against the now Eternal MMA bantamweight champion – Rod Costa.

Jenkins put on a masterclass performance at Eternal 63.

A striking display of considerable virtuosity from Jenkins in the main event at Eternal 64 earned him not only his second title defence, but also a shot at a UFC contract as a contender on Dana White’s Contender Series; an opportunity that he would make good on with a decision win against his opponent.

The following event in May would see the Eternal 65 main event go down in history as one of, if not the greatest fights in Australian MMA history. With no belt on the line, Dimps Gillies and Josh Kuhne took centre stage in a three-round main event showdown that saw neither fighter concede ground until the final bell.

An onslaught of striking from both combatants left each of them battered and bruised at the fight’s conclusion, with Gillies ultimately getting his hand raised via decision.

While there could only be one winner, there were no losers as both fighters stock rose astronomically in the aftermath of the bloody war, earning themselves ‘Fight of the year’ honours for Eternal MMA.

Dimps VS Kuhne deservingly won the UFC Fight Pass AND the Eternal MMA Fight of the Year for 2022.

More impressively, the bout would also earn fight of the year accolades at the UFC Fight Pass awards show – a fine recognition for both athletes on the world stage and a further testament to the Eternal MMA match-making prowess.

Ahead at Eternal 66, a devastating injury to Jack Becker would see him lose his lightweight title to challenger Aidan Aguilera in the opening seconds of the first round. A broken leg suffered by Becker as the result of a checked kick by Aguilera saw the title change hands in jarring scenes, with Aguilera himself left feeling unsatisfied to win in such unfortunate circumstances.

It was a bitter blow for Becker. Seemingly on the verge of his own call-up to the UFC with another win on home soil, the former champion instead left to pick up the pieces during a lengthy rehab stint – A challenge he immediately faced head on with typically positive mindset.

Jarring scenes in the Main Event of Eternal 66.

Eternal 67 was staged as the scene to crown the successor to now UFC prospect Jack Della Maddalena’s vacated welterweight championship. Kaleb Rideout would emerge victorious in a five-round thriller against City-Kickboxing’s Kevin Jousset; a performance that would see Rideout establish himself as one of the country’s most exciting talents.

Punctuated by some highly unorthodox – yet highly effective techniques, Rideout orchestrated a high-octane striking performance to outlast a highly dangerous Judoka in Jousset in one of the most entertaining fights of the year, earning himself his first professional title win in the process.

The fans were on the edge of their seats at Eternal 67.

Rod Costa would use Eternal 68 as the table-setter for his eventual championship win at Eternal 71. Up-and-coming Victorian prospect Michael Mannu would face off against Costa in the main-event for what was viewed as a number-one contender match for the Eternal MMA bantamweight title.

Riding out the on-display kickboxing talents of Mannu for the first round and a half, Costa would eventually drag Mannu to the bottom of the lake to secure a second-round submission win – a signature guillotine finish for the former IBJJF worlds medallist.

The result would see Costa move on to challenge returning former Eternal MMA bantamweight champion Shaun Etchell for the title at Eternal 71. Doing what he does best, Costa weathered an early storm from Etchell and claimed an impressive comeback victory via rear naked choke submission in the second round. The victory would be a just reward for Costa’s decision to move down in weight class after an unsuccessful bid to capture the belt in his usual featherweight domain.

Costa finally realised his Championship aspirations at Eternal 71.

Sandwiched between the two aforementioned events, Eternal 69 would play host to Aidan Aguilera’s first title defence since capturing the belt at Eternal 66. Unfortunately for Aguilera, it would be a short-lived title reign.

Known for his superior grappling, the challenging David Martinez overwhelmed his fellow BJJ black-belt opponent to win via rear naked choke submission in the second round – his second reign as Eternal MMA lightweight champion now in full swing.

Martinez re-captured his Lightweight belt at Eternal 69.

The final event for 2022 would see the Australian leader play host to a pair of rematches in both the middleweight and featherweight divisions at Eternal 72.

In a rare circumstance, the two fighters in the middleweight title fight main event would square off again immediately after previously fighting each other at Eternal 69.

With their previous matchup a late notice catchweight bout, the rematch would see John Martin Fraser put his middleweight championship on the line in the main event against Mat Myers after besting him in their previous outing via decision.

This time around, however, Myers would square the ledger with a first round TKO– a devastating spinning back kick to the liver of Fraser ended the championship fight in the first round. For Myers, it would be his first title win in his first attempt at silver wear.

A first round TKO would secure the belt for Mat Myers.

The co-main event would also see a rematch with a championship belt on the line, though in contrast, this particular rematch was more than five years in the making.

Having previously been finished by Diego Pereira at Eternal 27 in 2017, Justin Van Heerden would also get revenge on his rival and former teammate to claim the featherweight championship left vacant by the departing Jack Jenkins – winning a hard-fought contest via decision at the bout’s conclusion.

The title belt around Justin Van Heerden’s waste would punctuate a stellar 2022 for the South African native – four wins in four fights would also earn him ‘fighter of the year’ honours under the Eternal MMA banner.

It was a run that saw Van Heerden finish all three of his opponents in 2022 in the lead up to his first title fight, with submission wins over Joshua Riley, Alan Philpott and Mohammad Alavi showcasing a level of growth as impressive as anybody can claim fighting in Australia today.

Van Heerden capped off an incredible 2022 with the Featherweight belt around his waist.

In conclusion, 2022 would see the following fighters end the year as a champion:

  • Bantamweight: Rod Costa.
  • Featherweight: Justin Van Heerden.
  • Lightweight: David Martinez.
  • Welterweight: Kaleb Rideout
  • Middleweight: Mat Myers.
New champions were crowned all throughout 2022.

It wasn’t just on home soil that major accomplishments were achieved. In a testament to the platform that Eternal MMA provides its athletes, several of its former fighters also found varying rates of success at an international level.

Certainly, from a competitive standpoint, it is no secret that Eternal MMA has consistently provided Australian MMA with the highest level of competition to its participants – giving each fighter who chooses to complete their fighting apprenticeship under its banner the best chance of preparing themselves for the big stage.

Former Eternal flyweight champion, Shannon Ross would earn himself a contract in the UFC via the route of Dana White’s Contender Series. In a fight that Ross would lose by decision, he still showcased more than enough for the UFC boss to award both himself and the winner a contact.

Ross would eventually be slated to make his debut at UFC 284 in Perth alongside fellow Australian DWCS contract winner – Jack Jenkins.

Staying with Australian DWCS alumni, former Eternal MMA middleweight champion Jack Della Maddalena put together a historic 2022 to remember. A three-fight winning streak to start his UFC career cherry-topped by three first-round finishes was enough to earn him both UFC and ESPN rookie of the year honours.

A true rising star of the sport, Della Maddalena burst on to the scene and captured the imagination of MMA fans all around the world, with many circles touting him as future contender for a UFC championship.

Former Eternal Welterweight Champion Jack Della had an incredible 2022 in the UFC.

Fans will also recall 2021 as the year that former Eternal MMA strawweight champion Casey O’Neill would break through and claim for herself the UFC rookie of the year title.

With Della Maddalena following O’Neill’s lead, it would make it two years in a row that two former Eternal MMA stars simultaneously went 3-0 to begin their UFC careers and go on to claim the award for rookie of the year – again making it hard to deny that Eternal MMA creates the best opportunities for Australian fighters to turn themselves into international success stories.

UFC Senior Vice President of Content, David Shaw, states the importance of having a ‘pathways of excellence’ to the UFC – Eternal MMA leading the way in the ANZ region.

With a monumentally impressive year in the rear-view mirror, Eternal MMA turns its attention to what promises to be an even better 2023, starting with a stacked line-up at Eternal 73.

Adding some flair to the occasion, the card will take place the day before the UFC makes its return to Perth for UFC 284 – a spectacular double-header for fans looking to take in a full weekend of MMA littered with both present and potential future local stars of the UFC.

No doubt each fighter on the Eternal 73 card will be looking to make a big impression as the biggest combat sports show on wheels rolls into town.

It will be a weekend not to be missed.

John Fraser vs Mat Myers 2: A rematch for the middleweight crown.

The title fight main event for Eternal 72 will play host to a rare circumstance.

Not only have the two men involved already faced each other but did so in the very last fight they competed in prior to the middleweight title fight they will square off in this coming Friday.

Eternal 69 saw Middleweight champion John Martin Fraser step in on weeks’ notice to face New Zealand native – Mat Myers, who needed a new dance partner after his original fight was scrapped due his opponent sustaining an injury.

According to Eternal MMA promoter Cam O’Neill, there was absolutely zero hesitation from either camp when it came to accepting the late notice catchweight bout.

On paper, it was a risky proposition for Fraser to accept. A year and a half removed from his last fight and with no training camp to sharpen his blade, the Welsh export put all but is championship belt on the line to save the fight and get himself back inside the cage.

John Fraser is a fighter’s fighter.

Speaking with Eternal MMA, Fraser shared his sentiments on stepping up to plate and facing Myers for what would ultimately be the table-setter for a future, higher stakes fight between the pair.

“I one hundred percent wanted to take that fight,” said Fraser.

“I’d had eighteen months off after the Kitt Campbell fight; that was the last time I fought. I’d had two training camps that were wasted. When I went back to the UK, I was training to fight on Cage Warriors, that (fight) fell through because the guy had a sickness. The second one, I had an injury. Three months later I ended up having hand surgery.

“I wasn’t planning on fighting until December because of my hand and I hadn’t had the (training) camp. But as soon opportunity was offered to me, I just thought that this was a sign that I need to take this. I’d be daft not to.”

“I just want to fight. You get sports fighters, and you get ‘fighters’ fighters – I think I’m a fighter’s fighter.”

A fighter’s fighter no doubt John Martin Fraser is. After a battle of attrition with Kitt Campbell at Eternal 58, Fraser ground and pounded his way to a stoppage victory in the fourth round that subsequently earned him his first Eternal MMA title.

What proceeded the championship winning fight would be a sixteen-month stint back at home in Wales. Training at Shore MMA, Fraser rounded out his skillset to become a more complete fighter.

No longer just a striker, Fraser worked hard on his grappling game. Levelling up in all facets of MMA in order to better prepare himself for the challenges that lay ahead – both abroad and at home.

Now back in Australia, Fraser feels he is as prepared as ever to meet his first title defence head on.

“You’re just going to see a different fighter,” he said.

“Watching that last fight; I don’t like watching it in terms of seeing my performance on the feet. I was fat and slow.

“It was literally the Monday after that last fight that I was back in the gym, back hitting pads and just getting prepared for this next fight. I’m the fittest and strongest I’ve ever been at the moment, so, you are going to see the better version of myself.”

John Fraser was straight back into the gym on Monday.

Anyone who has spent five minutes talking to John Fraser about mixed martial arts know that he is about as real as it gets.

A straight shooter with no presumptive notions about his recent victory over Myers, Fraser is taking no extra confidence outside of him own improved abilities into their title fight on December 2nd.

“I think this one is just a brand new fight,” he said.

“A few people have said (to me) that I must be going in there full of confidence because I’ve beaten him before, so it must be an easy fight? Not at all. At the end of the day, fighting is fighting. We’ve both got a chin, we’ve both got a pair of arms and legs and a neck to choke each other.

“You just never know what’s going to happen. That for me is the most exciting thing about fighting. You can do everything right, you can have the best camp, you can go in with a hundred and ten percent belief and confidence in yourself. But you could make slip and you end up getting put to sleep.”

“I have helped my own confidence, but that’s the reality of fighting. That’s why fighting is exciting to me. The way I have prepared for Mat this time; it’s like a completely new fight.”

The time between fights has been not only beneficial to Fraser’s skillset, but also his mental approach to the game. Months on the sidelines grinding in the gym while simultaneously missing fights due to injury, the fire inside Fraser continued to burn as he marched towards a return date.

Now with a first title defence in his sights, the 6-2-0 champion has clarity on what a win against his familiar foe could mean for his long-term career.

“I think it’s undeniable that I’m the best in Australia and I think there’s a pretty good argument to be made that I hold my place in the UFC. I don’t think I’d look out of place there at all. That’s going to happen, whether it’s after this fight or the fight after that.

“Whenever it is, I’m going to end up there.”

Not one to look past an upcoming opponent, Fraser assures Eternal MMA fans that they will be without doubt getting their money’s worth for the high-level main event that will close the show for Eternal 72.

“You are going to see a high-level performance, it’s going to be an exciting fight,” he said.

“It’s just not one to missed. We both come to bring the fight. Mat’s a game opponent, I’m a game opponent. I’m going out to finish him and he’s definitely coming out to finish me. So, it would be a mad one to miss.”

“I’ve prepared for everything. I’m ready to go five rounds but I definitely see it in my head that I’m going to knock him out in the first round.”

The champ’s confident he’ll get Myers out of there in the 1st Round, but ready for 5.

Meeting him across the other side of the cage in the blue corner will be the man who would argue to the contrary.

A native of Whangaparaoa, New Zealand now residing in Victoria, Australia – Mat Myers has been forging his own path in mixed martial arts on route to his first fight for a title.

After moving to Australia with his parents at the age of seventeen, Myers was seeking a fresh start in a new country that would put him on a better path than he was heading down back at home.

It would be in Australia that he would meet his now head coach at Adrenaline MMA – Cris Brown.

For Myers, it would be a major turning point in his life and the biggest contributing factor in becoming the man who is is today.

Fast forward ten years later after attending the gym every day since, Myers is slated to headline an Eternal MMA card against a man that he was more than familiar with prior to their first meeting.

“I’ve been watching John for a while,” said Myers.

“I was a welterweight before this last fight that we had, and I had planned on moving up (to middleweight) for a while. But I didn’t expect to be fighting guys like John straight away.

“I remember watching John multiple times with my mates at barbecues, getting on the piss and watching Eternal fights. My best mate: John was his favourite guy to watch.

A fan himself of Fraser’s work inside the cage, Myers concedes that being in awe of the Welshman’s performances in the past resulted in him needing to overcome some mental hurdles when he was eventually tasked with becoming his next opponent.

“It was the unknown monster,” he said.

“You watch him knock all these people out and he’s this scary Welsh guy. Standing toe to toe with Kitt Campbell – someone I’ve trained with before and beating him at his own fight. That’s Kitt’s bread and butter; stand in front of people and trade. John beat him at that.

“He was this guy that I’d watched for a long time and rated highly – I still do. Just to get in there with him, be me and not have that fear was what I took away from it (the first fight) most. He’s a human being. He’s just a man.”

“I’ve probably watched the fight five or six times. That fights done, he got me, I’ll hold myself accountable for that. We’ve made adjustments to the mistakes that I made in that fight that ultimately got John the win, I think.

“It’s just another fight. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same guy or not. That’s the way we are taking it.”

Mat Myers takes confidence from his recent outing against John Fraser.

It’s hard not to make comparisons to the two men involved in the main event for Eternal 72, especially when it comes to a fighter’s mentality. As has been stated on record many times in the lead up to the contest, both men were willing to face each other on a moments notice with zero questions asked.

It’s the same way that each have carried themselves from the start of their career up until their scheduled title fight.

While the concept is not foreign to Myers, he believes that the region has an issue of fighters being too selective with their potential opponents.

“Fighters fight. I’ll fight anyone,” he said.

“I think that in Australian MMA we have a really bad culture of ducking people and picking and choosing our fights. I understand that this is a business, and you need to build your way up. But at the end of the day, if you’re good enough to be in the UFC – you’re good enough.”

“That’s just the way I live. I’d rather be that guy in thirty years knowing that I gave it a good crack. I didn’t just pick and choose. I’d rather know that I gave it everything I could. I tried my best to be the best and put myself out there.”

It’s a refreshing attitude not often seen at this level in mixed martial arts. This is a cutthroat business. A split-second lapse in judgement can alter a fighter’s career trajectory without warning. The reverberating effects of wins and losses are the lifeblood of a combat sports athlete.

It’s what makes the mentality of fighters like John Fraser and Mat Myers that much more special. It’s a part of the reason why the two will get to square off again at Eternal 72 immediately after their first fight. A middleweight championship bout on the biggest stage of Australian MMA is just reward for two fighters willing to put it all on the line when the opportunities come knocking.

A huge opportunity awaits Mat Myers on Friday night.

For Myers, it’s an opportunity to not only win his first championship, but also a chance to repay the faith that he has been given by his coaches and training partners since he first arrived at the gym.

“As fighters, we make a lot of sacrifice,” he said.

“For me, (the title) would mean a lot. But even more so for my coach and the people at the gym – it would mean everything. I came into our gym as just some skinny little Kiwi fresh off the boat; a tough kid that liked to punch-on.

“Ten years later, I’m fighting for the most prestigious belt in the country.”

In order to claim the belt, Myers knows that he will need to summon the best performance of his career. Having already faced the hard-nosed Welshman, Myers feels that he is ready to showcase the necessary improvements made when the lights are at their brightest.

“Knowing John; he’s a tough customer,” he said

“I was hitting him with a lot of big elbows underneath. Even on the cage, I felt like I hurt him once or twice in that (first) fight. He just doesn’t stop. He’ll keep going, he doesn’t care, nothing fazes him. He’s just really tough.

“I don’t see one certain way (to win), but I do see myself rocking him at some point and that being the decider. I can’t sit here and say I’m going to put him away flat out, because many have tried, and many have failed. But I know I’m going to win.

“That’s the only thing that I know for certain. I’ll be getting my hand raised at the end of it. Whether he’s got his consciousness or not, I’ll be getting my hand raised.”

“To my friends and family; I’ll apologise is in advance because I’m ready for a war, I’m ready for violence.”

  • Eternal 72 can be be viewed on Friday, December 2nd live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass. Fans can visit eternalmma.com to purchase tickets for this event.

Kamikaze target shift: Josh Kuhne lowers the scope at Eternal’s Featherweights

May 7th, 2022 will forever be known as the date that one of the greatest – if not the greatest mixed martial contest in Australian combat sports history was witnessed by fans live at Southport Sharks on the Gold Coast for Eternal 72.

Two of the most electric lightweights in the country stood toe to toe for fifteen straight minutes without conceding an inch until the final horn sounded. A relentless display of striking coupled with seemingly endless cardio from both combatants had the crowd in attendance on their feet for almost as long as the contest lasted.

Wins and losses aside, Josh Kuhne and Dimps Gillies would leave the arena with their stock elevated astronomically higher than what they came in with – and what they came in with was already experiencing a boom time.

Kuhne VS Dimps was an early Fight of the Year contender.

“I have never seen anything like that in my life! If you are not on your feet at home in your living room, get off your couch and get on your feet for these gentlemen!”

  • Appropriately stunned words immediately preceding the fights conclusion from co-promoter and stand-in commentator, Ben Vickers.

“Violence personified here tonight at Eternal 65!”

  • Echoing’s not remotely in the realm of hyperbole from lead commentator, Tanera Nathan.

Making the walk for just his fourth professional fight in his young career, Kuhne would finally find a challenger who would escape his wrath beyond the first round. Not only that, but Gillies would also fight the Kamikaze firepower with his own brand of evenly matched weaponry to outlast Kuhne and hand him his first defeat.

As the old saying in combat sports goes; you either win or you learn. It is Kuhne’s firm stance that he drew nothing but positives away from a fight that will live long in the memory of fans for years to come.

“Officially on my record, it’s a loss. But for me that was a massive gain – a massive win,” said Kuhne.

“I knew where I was lacking in so many departments, but it was a matter of going through the experience to be able to (understand it properly).

“I was lacking a bit of experience in there, a bit of composure, I wasn’t sticking to the game plan. There was a lot of things that I felt like I was aware of, but I had to go through the motions to really feel the repercussions of not seeing those things done.

“I’m still pretty new to the game. I’ve been getting blasted going through this MMA journey, taking fights actively and running my way up through the rankings pretty quickly.

“I was rushing a bit, so I took a bit of time to step away and slow things down; think about my process, look at everything as a whole and not feel that rush.”

An entertainer at heart.

The time after the fight with Gillies allowed Kuhne to think clearly about what he wants from the sport and what he can do best benefit his career opportunities in long run.

Having fought as high as welterweight during his amateur outings, Kuhne would go on to compete exclusively at lightweight for his first four professional bouts.

Running through his first three opponents relatively unchecked, Kuhne made the discovery during his rampage on the 70 kilogram division that he could make an even further drop in weight class for his future fights.

“I knew that it was possible about two fights ago that I could make featherweight, but as per most things leading into my last fight it was an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ (mentality),”  he said.

“Now that I’ve taken my last loss against Dimps, I wanted to come back and make improvements in every aspect that I could and take the sport as professionally as I could. That’s meant going down a weight class, being big for the division and being extra disciplined with my diet.

“The other thing is too, if the UFC is looking for featherweights for a call up – they’ll have a featherweight. If they’re looking for lightweights for a call up – they’ll have a lightweight. I can complete in two weight divisions, and I think that’s pretty appealing.”

At this stage of Kuhne’s career, it is beginning to paint the picture of a theme centred largely around one aspect…

Sacrifice.

A family man with a supporting wife and twin boys at home, Kuhne also runs his own tattoo business on the Gold Coast. A rewarding lifestyle and commitment, but certainly not without its challenges as he pursues his dream of being a full time competitive mixed martial artist.

On top of the extra discipline required to make weight in a smaller division, Kuhne made the choice to move his fight camp south from the Gold Coast all the way to Freestyle MMA in Windang, New South Wales – home of UFC pound for pound king and reigning featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski.

Taking him further away from home and his family, Kuhne concedes that it was the best choice he could make in order to push himself to the next level.

“It been massive,” said Kuhne of his new camp.

“To be surrounded by a lot of other good featherweights, lightweights, obviously the likes of Alex himself; there’s no better training partners or coaches. I’ve got Joe Lopez there looking after me; he’s mad old-school. I get a lot from learning and training with him. He keeps me disciplined.

“Overall, it was a massive move for me. Being away from home, being in New South Wales, being away from business, being away from my kids and my wife – everything. But to be away at Freestyle and to do my camp there, it was pretty rewarding. I’ve definitely felt the benefits from it.”

Looking ahead to his matchup with Abdalla Biayda in a new weight class at Eternal 72, Kuhne is adamant that the devastating power he exhibited as a lightweight will be making the journey down with him.

Kuhne takes on Biayda on the upcoming Eternal 72 card.

Known for his relentless striking onslaughts from the opening bell that all six of his first opponents as an amateur and professional failed to withstand, Kuhne warns that the extra weight cut will have no negative impact on the firepower that he possesses in his hands.

“That power is going to be maintained one hundred percent,” he professed.

“When I rehydrate, I feel like I’m going to be the same size as I am as a lightweight. Because of how the weight cut is, where I normally sit and what I walk back in at; I feel like I’m going to rehydrate exactly the same as I would at lightweight, but as a featherweight.

“To say I’m going to be too big for the division? Yeah, I’m going to be big. These featherweights? I don’t know how they are going to handle this power.”

It’s a chilling prospect for any competitor who dares to share the cage with Kuhne at any weight, let alone in a weight class that he will have a potentially distinct size advantage in. With a renewed focus on conditioning, diet and an overall approach to the game, Kuhne assures that his newfound home at featherweight will still see him accompanied by the Kamikaze spirit.

“I go out there and I press the action, that’s still me,” he said.

“You are still going to get the Kamikaze performance (but) there’s going to be an element of professionalism that wasn’t there last time, implemented this time.”

“They put me on this platform for a reason, there’s a reason people tune in watch my fights. I make people feel those raw emotions. I make people feel like they are in the Gladiator times. I want people to feel those raw emotions when they see me fight.

“That’s what I do when I get in there. I’m there for the people, I fight for the people and I’m an entertainer at heart.”

  • Eternal 72 can be versed Friday, December 2nd live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass. Fans can visit eternalmma.com to purchase tickets for this event.

Justin Van Heerden set to lock jaws with former opponent for the Eternal MMA Featherweight Championship.

Eternal 27 saw a young Justin Van Heerden make the walk for just his second professional fight after winning his debut by submission in the first round at Eternal 26.

Fighting against a more experienced opponent in Diego Pereira – who at the time had already competed in four professional matches, Van Heerden would suffer his first defeat at the hands of the Brazilian by way of first round knockout.

Fast forward more than five years later, the former training partners are set to face each other once again. This time, they are set to battle it out for the now vacant Eternal MMA featherweight championship.

With a professional record that now stands at 10-5-0, Van Heerden’s recent resume boasts an impressive three-fight winning streak. During this run, all three wins came by way of submission, with his most recent win coming via a signature rear naked choke against an opponent seemingly no one else was lining up to fight.

Van Heerden recently picked up his 3rd straight win at Eternal 67.

Now with his first chance to become an Eternal MMA champion, Van Heerden is primarily focused winning the belt itself, rather than avenging a previous loss to his fellow title challenger.

“Obviously being that it’s a title fight – that’s pretty cool,” said Van Heerden.

“It’s big that’s it’s on Eternal, it’s the biggest promotion in the country. It’s got that meaning behind it. Obviously, its shown that if you win that title and hold that title, it can open some pretty big doors.

“In terms of the rematch with Diego and trying to get one back – I’m going to relish the opportunity to do that. But, in terms of me sitting there and thinking like I need to go out of my way to do that? No, not really.”

“I’m happy. I’m getting in there and fighting for a title and I’m fighting someone else that’s been around for a hot minute doing their thing. But do I think that it’s something that I needed to get back? Not really.

“The only loss that really stings when I look at it would be the (Rod) Costa fight. The Diego loss was early in my career, it was my second pro fight. Back then I was barely even training any striking. I was just relying on what got me to the dance and that was my wrestling. I went in there with a more experienced guy, a more well-rounded guy at that time.”

“When I called him out after the (Alan) Philpott fight, it just made sense at the time. I wouldn’t say I’ve dwelt on it and thought that I need to get that one back. But I have an opportunity to do that and (also) win a belt. So, it means a bit more than the first fight.”

Five plus years removed from their first meeting; it is fair to say that both athletes who will be competing for the now vacant featherweight title have made considerable growth as mixed martial artists. Both men have since gone earn their place amongst the most popular and widely respected athletes in the country today.

For Van Heerden – a native of South Africa who now calls Australia home, the man who faced Diego Pereira in just his second pro fight is all but a distant memory. The man who will step into the cage to fight for his first championship belt will reflect years of dedicated obsession to the craft – a complete transformation from the boy who couldn’t count on the resources he has at his disposal today.

Van Heerden has improved leaps and bound since his first fight with Pereira.

“Vastly, completely different,” said Van Heerden of his metamorphosis.

“Obviously, I’m older – I’ve matured not only as a fighter, but as a man. I was a young guy getting into MMA and I was just relying on a one-dimensional approach. I didn’t have the knowledge and the approach I have now. I didn’t have the help of my nutritionist; I didn’t have the help with my strength and conditioning; I didn’t know anything.

“Now, the man that’s walking into that cage is a well-rounded mixed martial artist – I think I’ve shown that fight to fight this year, especially in my last fight with (Mohammad) Alavi.

“If (Diego) is coming into this fight and thinking that it’s going to be the same type of fight and it’s going to be the same type of guy (from the previous fight) you are getting in there with, you’re in for some nasty surprises because I’m dangerous everywhere.

“If there’s a lapse at any point, I’m going to put you away.”

Training out of Freestyle MMA, it must be almost impossible for any fighter who wants to dedicate himself to the sport to not make exponential growth within their respective skill sets. At the same time as receiving his tutelage under the legendary Joe Lopez – Van Heerden has the enviable resource of training alongside the UFC pound for pound greatest fighter on the planet in Alexander Volkanovski, who of course currently holds the most prestigious featherweight title in the world.

With Van Heerden looking to follow suit and claim Australia’s most prestigious belt in the same weight class, he admits that the advice he receives from Volkanovski has been invaluable to his career aspirations.

“I take a lot from the example that Volk sets, and he is always someone that has said ‘you have to be undeniable’ – I feel like that’s what I’ve done this year. I’ve worked very hard to take the tough fights and take the people that no one wants to fight – go out there, get the wins and not only get the wins but get the finishes in these fights and make myself undeniable.

“I feel like I’ve done that, especially with the Alavi fight. He was undefeated, I beat him and made myself the undeniable number-one contender – made myself the undeniable number-one featherweight in the country by a mile.

“This fight here (with Diego) is my fourth fight inside ten months. Another win, another finish – that’s four fights, four wins plus an Australian title… Its pretty hard to argue that I’m not the best featherweight in the country and not the most deserving of what’s next.”

Undeniable is certainly the most appropriate phrase that comes to mind regarding Justin Van Heerden’s claims. His surging run of late has painted a picture of a fighter who is beginning to scratch the surface of his high potential – a dedicated student of the game who is yet to enter the prime years of his fighting career.

4 straight wins and a belt could open some doors for Van Heerden.

With Eternal 72 just around the corner, Van Heerden assures fan he is looking to keep the momentum in his favour.

“I believe I’m going to get a finish inside the distance,” he said.

“I’m going to find a finish and it can come at any point. It could be on the feet, it could be in the grappling, it could be anywhere at any time. I’m trusting in my ability; I’ll just stick to what I need to do – go out there and perform the way I perform, and the finish is going to come. I don’t need to rush anything. The better part is I’ve got an extra ten-minutes to do my work, if needed. So, we’ll just go on that.”

“Anyone watching this fight, anyone attending the show, they can expect that it’s going to be an action-packed fight. They can expect that they are going to see a very high-level of mixed martial arts and they can expect that they are going to see a finish – that’s what I’ve brought this year, that’s what I’ve brought fight to fight. I’ve showcased improvements fight to fight, so it’s going to be no different (in this fight).

“If you’re watching this co-main event, it’s not going to be boring and it’s going to be a finish.”

  • Eternal 72 can be viewed Friday, December 2nd live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass. Fans can visit eternalmma.com to purchase tickets for this event.

Know Your Fighter: Tom ‘Big Train’ Nolan.

Eternal MMA sits down with Tom Nolan for a quick-fire Q&A ahead of his fourth professional fight at Eternal 72 against Adam Cook.

Age:

22.

Where were you born:

I was born in Toowoomba.

Where are you based now:

Brisbane.

What gym do you train out of:

Team Compton Training Centre.

Tom Nolan looks to remain undefeated at Eternal 72.

What belts or rankings do you currently possess as a martial artist:

I’m a BJJ brown belt.

What sports or activities did you participate in growing up:

Growing up I played Rugby League.

Where does the nickname ‘Big Train’ come from:

‘Big Train’ from the UFC PlayStation game. It was the nickname my mate chose for my in-game character, in reference to Thomas the tank engine.

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

I graduated high school and then I had a title fight the next weekend. The very next day I moved to the Gold Coast to pursue full time training for two years. During the coronavirus period, I went back to work for a couple of years. Now, I am back full-time training again in Brisbane.

Favourite aspect of training:

Sparring.

What do you consider to be your greatest strengths as a mixed martial artist:

My biggest strengths would be my creativity, length and my cardio.

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

Creative attacks that you won’t often see.

‘Big Train’ likens his style to Sandhagen and Pettis.

Can you compare your style to any high level mixed martial artist:

Cory Sandhagen and maybe Anthony Pettis.

Which fight do you consider to be your standout performance so far:

Between either my last finish over Niam (Stephen) or when I spinning back-kicked Mitch Bayliss in my last amateur fight – that was pretty sweet.

Do you have any accolades that you have achieved as a combat sports athlete:

I’m a two-time amateur champion.

What are your goals for both the immediate and long-term future with mixed martial arts:

Immediate is to have some amazing fights and put some people away viciously. Long term is obviously to be the UFC champion.

How do you see yourself getting your hand raised at Eternal 72:

Absolutely by knockout 100%. But, if the opportunity shows, I will choke him. (Either way) I think he goes to sleep.

A message to the fans and your supporters:

To the people who have already been supporting me, I appreciate you all very much. To anyone else who is tuning in to this one… do not blink.

  • Tom Nolan vs Adam Cook can be viewed Friday, December 2nd live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass. Fans can visit eternalmma.com to purchase tickets for Eternal 72.

Eternal Icons: Mitch Martin

Mitch-martin-eternalmma

 Eternal MMA pays tribute to its ‘Icons’ who have contributed to the growth and success of not only Eternal MMA, but Australian combat sports in its entirety. All the way from the grassroots of local martial arts education to the pinnacle of international competition, we salute those who have been vital in guiding Australian mixed martial arts in its endeavours at every level. 

This week, Eternal MMA is proud to profile Mitch Martin

Mitch-martin-eternalmma

As a professional mixed martial artist, Martin boats a 100 percent win-record at 8-0-0. Having won the Eternal MMA bantamweight championship in just his second bout with the promotion, Martin would continue to defend his title right up until he took a step back from the competitive side of the sport. 

A keen outdoorsman with a passion for sustainable living, Martin currently splits his time between living a “hunter/gatherer” lifestyle and training in martial arts on a casual basis. 

A true pioneer in the smaller weight classes, Martin is widely regarded as one of the hardest workers in the room – A trait that has also played a major part in him becoming one of the most widely respected athletes in Australian combat sports during his impressive title reign. 

Professional career record: 

8-0-0 

▪ 3 wins via knockout. 

▪ 3 wins via submission. 

▪ 2 wins via decision. 

Eternal MMA record: 

7-0-0 

▪ 3 wins via knockout. 

▪ 3 wins via submission. 

▪ 1 win vs decision. 

Eternal MMA events: 

Seven events in total: 

  • Eternal 11 vs Ryan Robertson. 
  • Eternal 25 vs Mick Addison – Won the Eternal MMA Bantamweight Championship. 
  • Eternal 29 vs Tyrell Hogan – Defended the Eternal MMA Bantamweight Championship. 
  • Eternal 30 vs Chris Morris – Defended the Eternal MMA Bantamweight Championship. 
  • Eternal 38 vs Jason Petropoulos – Defended the Eternal MMA Bantamweight Championship. 
  • Eternal 41 vs Kairin Moses – Defended the Eternal MMA Bantamweight Championship. 
  • • Eternal 48 vs Luke Morris – Defended the Eternal MMA Bantamweight Championship. 
mitch-martin-eternal-mma

Eternal MMA achievements/accolades. 

  • • Eternal MMA Flyweight Champion. 
  • ▪ Five successful title defences. 

Fond memory fighting for Eternal MMA: 

Mitch: There’s nothing but good memories from fighting on Eternal, obviously except for the weight cut – that sucked! Everyone’s friendly, everyone’s supportive. All the crew – it’s all very professional. Not once was I there and I left with a bad taste in my mouth. It was just a really healthy environment. There was no bad competitiveness. Everyone was a gentleman (or gentlewoman). Nothing bad to say about any of it, to be honest. It was a really good, competitive sport on a professional platform. The main thing that Eternal did was give a good name to the sport; that’s how I felt. 

Toughest Eternal MMA opponent: 

Mitch: That’s a good question. No fight is easy. None of them were easy. I’ve come away with concussions from most of my fights. The one that stuck with me the most was versing Jason Petropoulos. He was a very strong opponent, and he was dominating for most of the fight, pretty much right up until the end. He was a tough guy; he wasn’t giving up. I felt the most exhausted after that fight, I would say. 

Standout performance fighting for Eternal: 

Mitch: The Kewl Bonez (Chris “Kewl Bonez” Morris) one was pretty textbook. I felt that I executed that (fight) pretty good. That was a first round (stoppage). But every fight that I’m in, there’s always something I pick and work on and try to build on for the next one. I’d have to say the Kewl Bonez was definitely the sharpest one, I felt good going into that. I felt ready, I felt confident. That was probably the one I’m most happy with. 

Current or past Eternal MMA fighter you enjoy watching: 

Mitch: All the guys from my gym; I love watching them. Obviously, I’m around those guys and some of them I help prepare for fights a little bit. Jack Della Maddalena with getting the recent UFC contract – his fights were always top-tier performances. I loved watching his fights. Brentin Mumford was another good one; he always brings a good fight. Whether it’s his performance or bringing his heart, he’s always a good one to watch. One of my personal favourites was Callan Potter. Not only because he was a really good dude, but his heart is unstoppable. That guy just won’t take a step backwards. I really looked up to him with a lot of my fights. Just the pure dedication he had was really influential. 

Greatest career achievement: 

Mitch: Probably the confidence that it (mixed martial arts) gives you in life. I feel like I don’t have anything to prove. I feel quite happy walking away from arguments or fights. Any confrontation, I feel more than happy just walking away. The biggest thing that I’ve taken outside of the cage is a more relaxed approach to life. (Inside the cage) I was ranked number one in Australia for the bantamweight division on Tapology for a couple of months, which was pretty cool to look at; that made me smile. 

Current involvement with mixed martial arts: 

Mitch: I’d say “casual”. It’s not something that I put as a priority. Which is good, because it has been a priority for a good amount of time in my life and a lot of my other hobbies and lifestyle was put on hold because of that. So, I didn’t want to have any pressure to come back or to train. I am enjoying it more with a casual approach. Sometimes I might train three, four, five, six times a week. Others, I might miss a week’s training because I’ve been busy, or I’ve been away. 

What do you hope your legacy will be as a competitive martial artist: 

Mitch: You only get one shot at it. No champion has ever been a quitter. You can’t go in there half-arsed. You have to go in there with the mindset that it’s either win or die. My coach would always say “never come out with anything, leave it all in the cage”. I’ve taken that into all my fights. 

Rod Costa has double-champ ambitions ahead of Eternal 71.

Eternal MMA returns to Perth this Saturday for Eternal 71 with another strong card of fighters set to impress the Western Australian audience.

Standing atop the bill for his third main event in a row will be local fan-favourite and former featherweight title challenger, Rod Costa.

Coming off an impressive submission win at Eternal 68 over an eager up-and-comer in Michael Mannu in his bantamweight debut, Costa has no doubt that he has rightfully earned his second shot at Eternal silver wear.

“I think some people were saying that they didn’t understand why it was a number one contender fight, because he hadn’t fought in a couple years,” said Costa.

“To be honest, even though I got the finish and didn’t get myself into too much trouble, he was very good. Things just clicked for me in that fight.

“I’m happy because it was my first bantamweight fight. I think I made the weight easy. I felt really good on the day, and I really do think he’s one of the best guys I’ve fought in terms of skill.

A successful Bantamweight debut for Rod Costa.

“I felt like it was a really good win because I felt his potential. I’m looking forward to seeing who he fights next and how that goes because I don’t think he sat on the couch for two years doing nothing (prior to our fight), I think he was training, and he was very sharp.”

After mounting back-to-back wins against two of Australia’s elite regional scene contenders in Justin Van Heerden and Diego Pereira, Costa would ultimately fall short in his first bid for a title belt at the hands of former Eternal MMA featherweight champion and now UFC prospect, Jack Jenkins.

Fighting at featherweight for most of his career, Costa saw an opportunity for a competitive reboot with a drop down in weight class.

In a move that paid immediate dividends, Costa shared that while the extra cut in weight was always going to be mental challenge, the physical rewards were ultimately worth the added stress.

“I felt really good,” said Costa.

“It’s what everyone goes through – the more you cut, the more training camp becomes a bit more of a daunting task. The more you can concentrate on technique and improving in other aspects instead of focusing on your weight, I think the better it is.”

“The good part is that I feel really strong for the weight. I feel like it would be hard to find someone that could overpower me. Even if they were bigger than me, it would be hard to find someone that would be stronger than me.

“I remember talking to Mannu and he was heavier than me on the day (of the fight). I felt like strength for strength I did pretty good in that division.

“On the day, I felt really good. I felt fit, I felt like I could go forever.”

With his attention now turned to another main event title fight on October 29th at the HBF Stadium, Costa feels he is more prepared than ever to make the biggest statement of his professional career.

Across the other side of cage from him will be Tasmanian native and former Eternal MMA bantamweight champion – Shaun Etchell.

Following an unsuccessful bid to earn himself a shot in the UFC with a first-round loss at ‘Road to the UFC 2’ in Singapore, Etchell will be looking to regain the title that he ultimately gave up in pursuit of the highly coveted intentional opportunity.

As far as Costa is concerned, he will be expecting to face a dangerous Shaun Etchell in search of redemption.

“I expect the best version of Shaun Etchell, because if it was me and I had come off a (lost) opportunity like that, I would be eager to jump straight back into another opportunity to prove that I’m better than my last showing.

“I think that’s what I did with Jenkins. I was so eager to come back and prove that I can do better.”

“I think if you are a competitive guy, which I think Etchell is, as soon as you lose, you just want that loss gone. So, I think he’s eager to come back, I think he’s going to fight as hard as he’s ever fought. I think he’s coming for it.

“I think I’m going to get the best Etchell we have ever seen.”

It’s no secret to any MMA fan who has seen Rod Costa fight that his biggest weapons lie within his truly world-class grappling game. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under the world-renowned Filipe Pena as well as former medallist at the IBJJF world championships, Costa has earned himself a well-deserved reputation as being one of the most dangerous submission specialists in Australia today.

Costa’s strengths definitely lie in his grappling.

With Etchell’s recent loss coming by way of first round submission, Costa believes he will be able to find the same path to victory, though he concedes that it will be no easy task against such a high-level opponent.

“His last fight was a quick fight; he got caught with a submission and my strong game is submissions,” he said.

“I did watch that fight, people kept telling me that the way he lost is the best part of my game and so it’s a good matchup for me. But I don’t like to think that the match is going to be easier than what it’s going to be and then he comes out he’s fixed the holes that made him get caught-out in his last fight.”

“Like any fight I have, my goal is to try and get a good position with my grappling and finish from there. But also with every fight, I don’t want to rush and try to get there too quick and then make a mistake and pay for that mistake.”

“I like the match he had with Sam Hibberd, which was back and forth, and he showed a lot of heart. He basically out-paced and out-hearted Hibberd. So, I’m expecting that type of fight.”

With a renewed focus and another win under his belt, Costa is primed to make waves in the new weight class that he will compete for a championship in at Eternal 71.

As for any prospects at his former 65.7kg stomping ground, Costa is adamant that he has every intention of returning to featherweight sooner rather than later.

“I want the featherweight title after this one,” he said.

“There’s a card in February. If I’m good to go, I want to be on that card in Perth and I’d like that to be for the featherweight title. But I don’t know how quick those boys that are going to fight (for the featherweight title at Eternal 72) would want to and defend it or even if Eternal would give that shot to me. I just think it’s a really good option.”

With his previous title bout adversary having vacated the Eternal featherweight title for the UFC, Costa believes it could be the perfect opportunity to achieve double-champ status on Australian soil.

Having previously bested the two men who will compete for the vacant featherweight title at Eternal 72, Costa looks to be in prime position to see his long-term vision become reality.

“If Jenkins was still the champion, I don’t think I would get that shot, but I beat Diego (Pereira) and I beat (Justin) Van Heerden. So, I think it’s a really good story and a very good chance that I could fight for that (featherweight) title whichever way that fight goes. I think I would be a fool to not take that chance.

“If Eternal does want to give that chance to me – if I win the bantamweight title, that would be my first option. But if not, if those guys don’t want to defend that quickly, I’d still like to take a matchup in February if I’m healthy.”

Never one to overlook an upcoming opponent, Costa has always cut pensive figure when discussing his future. Never one to make brazen predictions on the outcomes of his matchups, Costa has historically laid out his plans for the long-term future while seemingly being at peace with any potential outcomes – for better or worse.

Costa has double-champ aspirations.

It is the kind of old school mentality of a storied combat sports athlete that is refreshing to see; an approach to his ambitions that reads something of a ‘let’s draw straws and see who’s going to dance’ type of story, while always being rightfully confident in his ability to get the job done. It is that same mentality and approach to his game that has led to Costa slowly becoming one of the most popular fighters competing under the Eternal MMA banner.

While he still harbours the dream of competing at an international level, Costa sees no other place he would rather compete on home soil than the organisation he believes gives athletes their biggest platform to shine in this part of the world.

“It’s no secret, I’m getting older, I’m trying to look for some kind of international opportunity,” said Costa matter-of-factly.

“I wouldn’t fight for anyone else here in Australia, I wouldn’t fight for any of these other promotions. I’m sticking with Eternal for obvious reasons. Not just because I train with Ben (Vickers) and the other guys – it’s the best promotion to give you a future in the sport. The more wins I get with Eternal, the better it is for me.”

“Obviously I have lofty goals. It might not happen at all, but if I’m planning the best future for me (it would be) – get the bantamweight (title), get the featherweight (title), then I (could) defend them once or twice, but always looking to the next international opportunity if I can get something.”

  • Eternal 71 main card can be viewed Saturday, October 29th live and exclusive on UFC Fight Pass.

 Eternal Icons: Tim ‘Quickdraw’ Moore 

Tim-Moore-wins-via-rear-naked-choke

 Eternal MMA pays tribute to its ‘Icons’ who have contributed to the growth and success of not only Eternal MMA, but Australian combat sports in its entirety. All the way from the grass roots of local martial arts education to the pinnacle of international competition, we salute those who have been vital in guiding Australian mixed martial arts in its endeavours at every level. 

This week, Eternal MMA is proud to profile Tim ‘Quickdraw’ Moore

Tim is a former Eternal MMA flyweight champion who competed eight times under the Eternal MMA banner, winning five of his bouts in total including one successful defence of his flyweight championship. 

Like many other children growing up in the northeast of Australia, Tim first found his way into the world of sport via rugby league. After finding himself dealing with some adversity at the age of 19, he decided to enter a mixed martial arts gym in hopes of setting himself on a better path. 

Soon after commencing training six nights a week, Tim made the choice to fight professionally after getting some wins under his belt. Realising that he had the potential to fight at a high level, he dedicated himself to the sport and went on to become a true icon of the regional MMA scene in Australia. 

Tim was one of the first athletes to compete under the banner of Eternal MMA, having fought on Eternal 1 at Southport Sharks on the Gold Coast. Tim also holds the distinction of being one of only four athletes to compete in Eternal MMA’s first three events. 

tim-moore-vs-luke-morris

Professional career record: 

12-8-0 

▪ 2 wins via submission. 

▪ 4 wins via knockout. 

▪ 6 wins via decision. 

Eternal MMA record: 

5-3-0 

▪ 2 wins via submission. 

▪ 3 wins via decision. 

Eternal MMA events: 

Eight events in total: 

  • • Eternal 1 vs Jacob Mahony
  • • Eternal 2 vs Adam Corbett. 
  • • Eternal 3 vs Greg Penaloza. 
  • • Eternal 6 vs Shaun Etchell
  • • Eternal 8 vs Shane Parker. 
  • • Eternal 12 vs Shaun Etchell – Won the Eternal MMA Flyweight Championship. 
  • • Eternal 14 vs Luke Morris – Defended the Eternal MMA Flyweight Championship. 
  • • Eternal 45 vs Stephen Erceg

Eternal MMA achievements/accolades. 

  • • Eternal MMA Flyweight Champion (one time) 
  • ▪ One successful title defence. 

Fond memory fighting for Eternal MMA: 

Tim: The very first Eternal (event) was the main event that I fought on, so that would be up there with the fond memories. 

Toughest Eternal MMA opponent: 

Tim: It would have to be (Shaun) Etchell in the first fight that we had. Even (Jacob) Mahony in the first (Eternal 1), that was pretty tough. 

Tim-Moore-wins-via-rear-naked-choke

Standout performance fighting for Eternal MMA 

Tim: When I fought Adam Corbett. There wasn’t anything particularly special about it, but he tried to fight me in the carpark before the fight. I was walking in by myself into the venue as him and his team were walking out. There was a bit of trash talk before the fight and he just offered me out in the car park – properly had a crack at it. I just had a bit of laugh and said, “see you in a few hours, mate!”. 

Current Eternal MMA fighter you enjoy watching: 

Tim: Naveed Hassanzada – he fought recently. He’s a flyweight that I got to do a little training with recently. I’ve always liked his fighting style. Hoani Selwyn – he just went pro. There’s always good up-and-comers like Josh Kuhne. There’s Dimps (Gillies) who has been there forever. There are so many dudes coming up but it’s the flyweights mainly for me. 

Greatest career achievement: 

Tim: Winning the (Flyweight) title. Not even winning the title – defending the title. A lot of people had won it and didn’t defend it. 

Current involvement with mixed martial arts: 

Tim: I was helping Shannon Ross for a recent fight that he had. After that, I just kept my own training rolling on from there. I’ve been training a couple nights a week for the last couple of months now. I’m trying to get more regular (with training) and maybe fight later in the year. I feel like my body and my mind is still pretty sharp. Once things even out at home, I’m definitely keen to get back into it. So, towards the end of this year, I think we can make that happen. 

Life outside of mixed martial arts: 

I’ve got my wife and three kids which obviously keeps me pretty busy. During the week I have a building company of my own. So, I’m on the tools as a chippy throughout the day, finish that and then I’m a family man at home. 

What do you hope your legacy will be as a competitive martial artist: 

Tim: Obviously my record isn’t the greatest, but I’ve never turned down a fight or cherry-picked an opponent. Anyone that was ever offered to me, I always said yes, whether it was a smart idea or not. I think a lot of fans know that with the opponents that I’ve fought. 

Eternal Icons: Callan ‘The Rockstar’ Potter. 

Callan Potter Eternal MMA Icon

 Eternal MMA pays tribute to its ‘Icons’ who have contributed to the growth and success of not only Eternal MMA, but Australian combat sports in its entirety. All the way from the grass roots of local martial arts education to the pinnacle of international competition, we salute those who have been vital in guiding Australian mixed martial arts in its endeavours at every level. 

This week, Eternal MMA is proud to profile Callan ‘The Rockstar’ Potter. Callan is a former Eternal MMA lightweight champion who competed three times under the Eternal MMA banner, winning all three of his bouts. 

Professional career record: 

18-9-0 

▪ 10 wins via submission. 

▪ 6 wins via knockout. 

▪ 2 wins via decision. 

Eternal MMA record: 

3-0-0 

▪ 2 wins via submission. 

▪ 1 win via decision. 

Eternal MMA events: 

Three events in total: 

Callan Potter takes the back against Brentin Mumford for win via rear naked choke.

Eternal MMA achievements/accolades. 

  • • Eternal MMA Lightweight Championship (one time) 
  • ▪ One successful title defence. 
A happy Callan Potter with the strap with a win over Brentin Mumford.

Fond memory fighting for Eternal MMA: 

Callan: I’ve earned plenty of great memories at Eternal. As far as sticking to the fights, going through that real ‘transition moment’ that some people have had to go through in their fights; being exhausted, being bloody, being beaten up and standing up off the stool coming into the third-round against B.J. Bland is a moment that will stick with me forever. He’s a super tough guy, and I knew that my gas tank was almost on empty and his wasn’t far above (empty) either. Just knowing that it was going to be one of those rounds was a pretty special moment. 

Toughest Eternal MMA opponent: 

Callan: All three of those guys were ridiculously tough. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career, but something I pride myself on is I always try to find the toughest fights. As much as they were all tough, I really have to put Brentin (Mumford) up in that slot. I don’t think I’m alone in saying this, but during that period, Brentin was the bogeyman of the lightweight division. He was big, he was knocking people out with crazy techniques. I was always chasing tough fights, but I just knew that when that was going to get booked, that was going to be a hard fight. 

Current Eternal MMA fighter you enjoy watching: 

Callan: I’m huge into the local scene at the moment. I love the UFC, but more so than the UFC, I love the local scene. Obviously, Eternal is the premiere promotion on the local scene at the moment. Very easy answer – I’m loving Kaleb Rideout, the ‘Krazy Horse’. That kid has won me right over. I love the way he gets about it. He took on Kevin Jousset when no one was lining up to take that fight. He didn’t take that fight (for the sake of) being tough and taking the fight, he came out with the obvious intention to win and fought his backside off. I’m a massive fan of the Krazy Horse. 

Greatest career achievement: 

Callan: Obviously getting my hand raised in the UFC cage, that’s really hard to beat. (There are) two things that I really hang my hat on besides obviously taking hard fights whenever I could; one is never missing weight. Never once have I missed weight on the scales which I’m really proud of. Two, my whole Jiu-Jitsu career, every belt I’ve ever received is from the same coach from start to finish. In a sport where people are shifting and moving, trying to find a better answer here and there, I’m very proud that I’ve taken every single belt that I’ve got from Jamie Murray. I like to think that that’s a highlight of the personality and traits that I have. 

Current involvement with mixed martial arts: 

Callan: I deal with a lot of the evening classes (at Resilience Training Centre). We have quite stable of not only a few pro athletes, but a lot of amateur athletes coming through. We have a great coach in Dan Kelly; obviously Dan’s commitments are mixed with Australian Judo. (So), there’s myself, Sam Hayward, who’s a sensational coach, he’s very educated in the sport of MMA. Ben Sosoli is there. Between the four of us, we work quite well. We have guys that have been there a little bit longer, but we all work in unison. There are things that I learn off Ben and Dan and visa-versa. We all share our knowledge together really well. 

Life outside of mixed martial arts: 

I’m working with a company called ‘Wormald’ – that’s all fire protection. So, I’m working within the portables department there. That’s a full-time position. Three evenings a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I go to the gym. Tuesday, Thursday I’m back home with the family. Weekends are now very open. We’ve got the caravan now and I like to spend as much time (as possible) jumping in the caravan and going out. My poor now-wife has had to spend many years being dictated by a fighter career. Now that it’s been pulled up-stumps, she’s very happy to take the lead role in what our plans are for most weekends, which I’m happy to follow. 

What do you hope your legacy will be as a competitive martial artist: 

Callan: Legacy is sometimes a big thing; I don’t want to say that it doesn’t mean much to me. The people that are close to me they are the ones that I worry about. The ones that have worked close to me and seen the inside battles, they’re the people whose opinions matter to me. People on the 

outside are going to form their own opinions, but I hope that my body of work speaks for itself. Not (necessarily) the wins that I’ve got, the accolades I’ve achieved or the or the titles that I’ve won, but the way I’ve carried myself. Like I’ve said, I’ve never missed weight, never turned down a hard fight and sadly been put in many dubious positions in a lot of my fights that I’ve still managed to come back and win. So, I’d like to think that while I might not have been blessed with a lot of the greatest skill, I’ve shown a bit of a ‘blue-collar’ grit in my career and maybe that’s how I’ll be remembered. 

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