Breakout Australian welterweight Jack Della Maddalena is, almost certainly, just one more win away from the prestigious UFC Rookie of the Year gong.
But said award isn’t what he wants.
No, what ‘Della’ wants is world No.8 Sean Brady.
Watch UFC 282: Prochazka v Texeira 2 LIVE on Main Event available on Foxtel & Kayo Sports, Sunday 11 December from 2pm AEDT. ORDER NOW >
“Or somebody around him,” the 26-year-old said this week.
“Don’t even care who.
“So long as it’s someone at that top end of the division.
“Because while Rookie of the Year sounds really cool — and I’d definitely take it – it’s not something I’m focused on.”
Or as the Australian’s trainer Ben Vickers puts it: “F … UFC Rookie of the Year.
“That’s not what we’ve come here for.
“We’re here to knock people out and take that shiny, gold belt.”
Currently bunkered down in Las Vegas, Della Maddalena — aka Australia’s most exciting MMA prospect — is looking to continue his incredible rise in Sunday’s highly anticipated UFC Fight Night bout against Englishman Danny Roberts.
Exploding onto the UFC scene via Dana White’s Contender Series in September last year, the West Australian has since secured two eye-catching Octagon wins — beating both Pete Rodriguez and Ramazan Emeev via first round TKO.
Should the former rugby player secure another highlight reel finish against Roberts this Sunday, he will almost certainly become clubhouse leader for the UFC Rookie gong.
Yet even more importantly, Maddalena hopes another big win will convince UFC matchmakers to catapult him into a massive hometown fight at UFC 284 next February – with Brady among a list of names his team has discussed.
A 29-year-old Philadelphia product, Brady suffered the first loss of his career last month when stopped in the second round by Belal Muhammad at UFC 280
“HE’S WEATHERED”: Hodges’ shock revelation about the punch that dropped Gal
“I’LL SHOW YOU”: Volk’s plan to dominate UFC like not even Conor McGregor could
AUSSIE’S UFC SLEDGE: “Why give Adesanya a rematch … to get KO’d again?”
Izzy questions early stoppage at UFC 281 | 01:11
Prior to that however, the hyped American was undefeated in 15 fights – with UFC wins over the likes of Michael Chiesa and Australian Jake Matthews.
“And being called out by Jack, it’s a sign of respect,” Vickers stressed.
“Because he doesn’t want to fight guys who are s …, he only wants the best.
“Jack just believes he is better than those guys – and wants the opportunity to prove it.”
While Maddalena knows the challenge presented in Sunday’s showdown against Roberts – who he dubs “a dangerous guy” – the Scrappy MMA product also knows he can use the Englishman as a springboard into what would be his first Octagon appearance on home soil.
“And I want someone at the top end,” Della Maddalena said.
“Top 15 at the very least.
“(Laughs) But in saying that, I’ll probably say ‘yes’ to the first person they chuck at me.
“Because while I want someone at the top end, I want to fight on that Perth card even more.
“So I’d rather fight another mid-level guy than have nobody to fight at all.”
While Vickers and his charge have not given even the slightest thought to winning UFC Rookie, the coach said his rising star was definitely the obvious choice.
“Because Jack has so far fought for less than five minutes in the UFC,” he said.
“He’s had two knockouts, both in the first round.
“Whoever the UFC puts in front of you, you deal with it accordingly.
“And Jack has done that.
“So another stoppage and it would be hard to deny him that title.”