When the UFC returns Down Under in October, there will be at least one Kiwi not on the card.
Shane Young hasn't fought in the octagon since beating American Austin Arnett by unanimous decision at UFC 234 in Melbourne in February. But due to ongoing, niggling injury concerns, he's stayed on the sidelines since.
Young will watch with great interest as City Kickboxing teammates Israel Adesanya, Dan Hooker and Brad Riddell, and fellow Kiwi Luke Jumeau step out under the bright lights of Melbourne's Marvel Stadium on October 6, but could be the only Kiwi UFC star not on the card. Kai Kara-France put himself in the best possible position to get a spot on the card, coming away unscathed from an impressive unanimous decision win in China last week.
Young, who holds a 2-1 record in the UFC's featherweight division, recently re-signed with the promotion for another four fights, but expected he would remain sidelined until 2020 to make sure is body was right to fight.
But while he's not actively competing, Young remains in the thick of the New Zealand combat sports scene, making his commentary debut tonight at King in the Ring in Palmerston North. Young will be calling the action alongside New Zealand's leading combat sports analyst and UFC striking coach 'Lightning' Mike Angove.
"It's going to be real sick doing it for King in the Ring too," Young said. "It has been a massive platform for people like Israel, Dan, Carlos Ulberg and Blood Diamond; it launched their careers and names in Kiwi homes in New Zealand. Heaps of guys have come up through that."
"King in the Ring expanding and getting bigger is a big part of pushing the culture of combat sports forward, so it's cool to be a part of that."
Tonight's eight-man eliminator tournament will see the return of inaugural champion TY Williams after a lengthy lay off due to an ankle injury, while a number of other familiar faces return to the tournament with their eyes on claiming the cruiserweight title.
In the eight-man eliminator, fighters will have as many as three bouts on the evening, which are spread out by a host of other fights throughout the evening.
"The eight-man has some of the best fights and so much real-life drama," Young said. "With so many twists and turns in a matter of hours in an eight-man tournament, it's bordering on better than a UFC fight I reckon."