With the UFC back in town, Christopher Reive brings you all you need to know ahead of Fight Night 168 at Spark Arena.
Start with the basics – give me a rundown on mixed martial arts
MMA is a combat sport that combines striking, wrestling, jiu-jitsu and a host of other martial arts - hence the name 'mixed martial arts'. Two fighters are shut in a cage for a set number of timed rounds and try to defeat each other either by knockout, submission or points on the judges' scorecards. In the UFC, all bouts are three five-minute rounds, aside from main events and title fights which are five five-minute rounds.
Wearing 4oz gloves, fighters can strike with their hands, legs, elbow and knees; and they can also grapple their opponent. Unlike boxing, there is no standing count when a fighter is knocked down. Instead, the fight continues until the referee stops it.
• Christopher Reive: England dominate form XV of semifinals after win over All Blacks
• Christopher Reive: Why Dave Rennie is the right man to revive the Wallabies
• Chiefs hooker Nathan Harris sidelined after shoulder surgery
• Christopher Reive: UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya one of New Zealand's biggest stars
Fighters can submit verbally or by tapping out if they are caught in a choke or limb lock. If a fighter does not tap out but passes out in a chokehold, the fight is over.
Judges score a fight round-by-round, with the round winner getting 10 points and the other fighter getting a maximum of nine. Scores are given based on a range of factors including damage inflicted, striking efficiency and success, cage control, and grappling and takedown success.
OK, now what the hell is a 'UFC'?
UFC stands for Ultimate Fighting Championship, and the UFC is the premier mixed martial arts promotion the world has to offer.
So it being in New Zealand is a big deal then?
Yes; yes it is. Sunday's event at Spark Arena will be just the third time the UFC has visited New Zealand in its 27-year history. The first show was in 2014, the second in 2017.
Kiwi veteran Dan 'the Hangman' Hooker (19-8), the UFC's No7-ranked lightweight, will meet American Paul 'the Irish Dragon' Felder (ranked No6 with a 17-4 record) in the main event. The fight should be an exciting display of striking, with both fighter being high level kickboxers and among the top echelon of the UFC's deepest division. Many have tipped the fight to be a Fight of the Year candidate. Both fighters have won 10 of their career bouts by knockout, while Hooker also boasts seven submission victories.
Fellow Kiwi lightweight Brad Riddell will fight highly touted Russian prospect Magomed Mustafaev, flyweight slugger Kai Kara-France meets Hawaiian Tyson Nam, while heavyweight Ben Sosoli will go head to head with Brazil's Marcos Rogério de Lima.
What about that Israel guy? Is he fighting?
No. Israel Adesanya's next fight is on March 8 (NZ time) in Las Vegas. Here's a full list of bouts for Sunday's card in Auckland (listed from last on the card to first):
Lightweight: Dan Hooker (NZ) v Paul Felder (five-round main event)
Light heavyweight: Jimmy Crute (Aus) v Michal Oleksiejczuk
Strawweight: Karolina Kowalkiewicz v Yan Xiaonan
Heavyweight: Ben Sosoli (NZ) v Marcos Rogério de Lima
Lightweight: Brad Riddell (NZ) v Magomed Mustafaev
Featherweight: Kevin Aguilar v Zubaira Tukhugov
Lightweight: Joshua Culibao (Aus) v Jalin Turner
Welterweight: Jake Matthews (Aus) v Emil Meek
Welterweight: Callan Potter (Aus) v Kenan Song
Flyweight: Kai Kara-France (NZ) v Tyson Nam
Strawweight: Loma Lookboonmee v Angela Hill
Flyweight: Priscila Cachoeira v Shana Dobson
A welterweight bout between Maki Pitolo and Takashi Sato was scratched from the card on Friday evening, with Pitolo unable to compete due to illness.
That's a lot of fights! When does this thing run until?
It's an early start in Auckland on Sunday. Doors open at 9am, with the first fight scheduled to get underway just after 10am. The main card, starting with Riddell v Mustafaev, kicks off at 1pm and the event will wrap up around 4pm - in time to watch Wilder v Fury II.
Wait, if there's a main card, should I bother coming early?
100 per cent. If you're going to the show live, surely you want to get the most for your money. This card is stacked from top to tail with exciting contests, and Kara-France is the fourth fight on the card. Surely the opportunity to come out and support a fellow Kiwi as he represents the country is enough of a reason to get down there.
If you're not there live, it's just as good a reason to tune in for the start of the card.
How can I tune in if I'm not there to see it live?
You can tune in free-to-air on Prime from 11am on Sunday morning, or ESPN if you're a Sky Sport subscriber. The broadcast does not show the first hour of action so you will miss the first three fights.
However, there will be a live blog running from 10am at nzherald.co.nz bringing you updates on all the action.