Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

UFC: Auckland UFC card taking shape

Kiwi James Te Huna will headline the UFC Fight Night with American Nate Marquardt. Photo / Getty Images
Kiwi James Te Huna will headline the UFC Fight Night with American Nate Marquardt. Photo / Getty Images

Around half of the card for Auckland's first UFC event has been confirmed and the rest of the bouts are likely to be inked next week.

UFC Fight Night Auckland: Te Huna v Marquardt will be headlined by Kiwi James Te Huna (16-7) in a five-round middleweight tussle with American Nate Marquardt (32-13-2) at Vector Arena on June 28.

The UFC announced another five fights for the undercard today with a collection of Australians joining the bill.

Kiwi-born welterweight Robert Whittaker (12-4), who fights out of Sydney, will meet American Mike Rhodes (6-2), while Australian light heavyweight Anthony Perosh (14-8) and American Gian Villante (11-5) will square off.

Texan featherweight Charles Oliveira (17-4) will meet Japan's Hatsu Hioki (27-7-2), while Sydney flyweight Richie Vaculik (9-2) will take on Guam's Jon Delos Reyes (7-3).

Australian welterweights Vik Grujic (6-4) and Chris Indich (6-2) will also meet, bringing the card to six bouts and it is expected to include 11-13 fights all up.

Tom Wright, UFC director of operations for Canada, Australia and New Zealand, told the Herald he expected more Kiwis to be included when the card is finalised, although the final call will come down to matchmakers Sean Shelby and Joe Silva.

"The ideal situation is we can hopefully get as many Kiwis on the card as possible," Wright said. "I've asked about a women's fight as well and I should find out about that in probably the next week or so."

With the card fast approaching, Wright acknowledged that fighters would need adequate preparation time.

"It's really important for these athletes, you need to provide them with enough time for their camps and these guys and girls need to have six to eight week camps."

There's a collection of local names that have been tossed around as potential fighters to join the card such as Dan Hooker, Brandon Ropati and Kate Da Silva.

The UFC's maiden appearance in New Zealand will mark the 14th country they have staged a fight card in.

Wright said he would ask UFC president Dana White to attend the event but White's busy travel schedule may get in the way, while the UFC also have another card being held in San Antonio on June 28.

"I know that he will want to come and I'm going to ask him but we will have to wait and see," Wright said.

- APNZ

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