Australian fighter Brian Ebersole made quite an impression in his UFC debut in February.
Called up at the last minute to replace injured Carlos Condit at UFC 127 in Sydney, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
His upset victory over UFC veteran Chris “Lights Out” Lytle, a unanimous decision, raised a few eyebrows and even earned him a Fight of the Night bonus.
But it was his unorthodox and entertaining style that garnered the most attention. Flying knees, cartwheel kicks and his “hairrow” (an arrow shaved into his chest hair to point his opponents towards his chin) had the fans clamouring for more.
As a result, Ebersole earned a recall, against Dennis Hallman in UFC 133 on August 7, and was recently rated one of the top UFC newcomers.
With 63 professional fights under his belt, however, Ebersole is far from a novice.
After years on the American midwest “meat grinder” circuit, Ebersole earned a contract offer from the International Fight League (IFL), but that opportunity slipped through his fingers when his characteristic theatrics saw him suspended by the California State Athletic Commission in 2006.
Ebersole then headed to Australia to coach and compete in the XFC.
He took the opportunity to really focus on fighting, and he says he has come across great Australian talent while coaching.
“Some of the most talented kids aren’t fighting,” he told foxsports.com.au
“They’re in the gym getting better.
“These guys aren’t just fighting for the sake of fighting, like I used to.
“I tried to give them some focus, and it helped me work out my own past.”
Ebersole explains this meant reflecting on his career, and realising he hadn’t made the most of opportunities presented to him, so it’s little surprise he jumped on the Lytle fight with such fervour and earned himself a second shot at the UFC.
Fans can expect the same energetic approach in his return to the US, against journeyman Hallman in Philadelphia, he says.
The 30-year-old welterweight won’t be cutting back on the drama, or the chest hair.
Aside from the showmanship, Ebersole will look to keep the fight moving as Hallman has a wrestling background and is known as a grappler.
“I’ll be trying to piss him off as much as I can,” he said.
But Hallman, at 35, is no rookie, either.
They boast a collective 97 professional wins, and Ebersole says it will be tough to catch the veteran off guard.
“I don’t think I’ll surprise him, but I’m going to make him work when he doesn’t want to,” he says.
“I want to wear him out, show that he’s an old fighter.”
Ebersole has had more time to prepare for this fight, compared with his rushed entry into the UFC, but that also means Hallman has had time to study the distinctively unpredictable style of “the Aussie”.
“You watch him on tape, and it’s just amazing the things he gets away with in his fights,” Hallman told HD.net’s Inside MMA.
“Cartwheel kicks, spinning back knuckles, flying knees, unorthodox as all get-go.
“He walks toward your powerhand, he just does everything different to every other fighter.”
That doesn’t mean Ebersole will be avoiding the close stuff. There’s a reason for his apparently courageous approach: his notorious iron jaw.
Ebersole has never been knocked out, and he plans to put that record on the line to lure Hallman.
“I’ll lead with the head, I always lead with my head,” he says.
Ebersole’s time in Australia has earned him a new nickname, “Bad Boy”, courtesy of his XFC colleagues. And the country has left a mark on the American expat.
“I’ve been here long enough, I have an Aussie girlfriend,” he says.
“I think I’m an adopted Aussie.”
But Australians will also have a chance to leave a visible mark on their adopted countryman.
Ebersole has promised to replace his signature “hairrow” with a design chosen as part of a web competition…the design will be revealed on the night of the Hallman fight.
Ebersole has no idea what he’ll be sporting, but he is pretty certain “it will be embarrassing”.
by Buford Balony