The UFC will be making it’s return to jolly old England this weekend and go figure, the card is of the mid to low interest range and will be broadcast for free here in the States (unless you don’t have FUEL, of course. What’s that? NO ONE has Fuel?!). Not that we’re complaining about a night of free fights, but the buzz surrounding this event could best be described as tumbleweeds. Fortunately for you, there are at least five good reasons to tune in Saturday afternoon, which we’ve laid out in a convenient list format with bold titles and everything. Aren’t we just the best?
1. A Main Event That Definitely Ain’t Going the Distance
As BG explained earlier, a fight with Stefan Struve ends in one of three ways; Struve via submission, Struve via (T)KO, or Struve’s opponent via uber-violent KO. His fights are like the Paranormal Activity movies; you know from the start how badly things will end for the parties involved, but it’s the path to that ending that you’re interested in. The same can be said for the undefeated Stipe Miocic, minus the uber-violent losses of course. Miocic has been on an absolute tear since entering the UFC and has finished 2 of his 3 opponents in brutal fashion. In fact, in a combined 38 fights, the two main event players have only seen the judges scorecards twice. And Saturday night will be no different; Struve will either take this fight to the ground and try to pull off a sub or throw caution to the wind and get savaged. In either case, it will make for one incredibly entertaining fight.
2. Gunnar Freaking Nelson
Unless you are a complete MMA novice, we shouldn’t have to explain why you should be excited for the UFC debut of Gunnar Nelson. No, not that Gunnar Nelson, we’re talking about this Gunnar Nelson. But on the off chance you are a total newb, know that this fellow 9-0 prospect first broke onto the MMA scene in 2007 but didn’t gain notoriety until the 2009 ADCC trials, where he scored a huge upset over the much larger and more experienced Jeff Monson. Since then, Nelson has been single-handedly converting “Wang-and-Bang”-type MMA fans to the subtleties of BJJ with his exciting and dominating wins under the BAMMA and Cage Contender promotions. He’ll be taking on the always game TUF 9 runner-up Damarques Johnson on short notice, which, as Big John McCarthy pointed out, kind of defies the 60 day no contact suspension Johnson was handed after his vicious KO loss to Mike Swick at UFC on FOX 4 on August 4th. But if it’s good enough for the athletic commissions, it’s good enough for us!
Speaking of up-and-coming prospects…
3. There Are A Lot of Up-and-Coming Prospects on This Card
Aside from Miocic and Nelson, UFC on FUEL 5 will feature the UFC debuts of a couple highly-touted prospects as well as a fight that will determine the possible contender status of another. Making their big show debuts on Saturday will be none other than KO artist Jimi Manuwa taking on the unluckiest guy in the LHW division these days, Kyle Kingsbury, and British phenom/all around good guy Tom “Kong” Watson, who will be squaring off with TUF 11 alum Brad Tavares. “Kong” is a heavy-handed veteran of the BAMMA and Cage Rage promotions who has scored back-to-back TKO stoppages over Murilo Rua (which is getting less impressive by the day) and Jack Marshman. Tavares is fresh off a close decision victory over Dongi Yang at UFC on FUEL 3 and will be looking to erase the memory of that performance, so expect fireworks here.
Elsewhere on the card, undefeated lightweight submission whiz Paul Sass will attempt to make it 4-0 in the UFC against TUF 5′s Matt Wiman. If you have yet to see any of Sass’s performances, just think of him as a male Ronda Rousey of sorts. With a nickname like “Sassangle,” his opponents pretty much know what they’re in store for, yet seasoned vets like Michael Johnson and Jacob Volkmann could do nothing to alter their fate despite this. With an impressive win over Wiman, Sass will easily have earned a shot at a big name and a PPV main card spot down the line.
To say that Dan Hardy and Amir Sadollah have had inconsistent UFC runs would be like saying that the CIA kinda sorta botched the Bay of Pigs ordeal. And while Sodallah’s losses have come much farther apart than Hardy’s, it’s pretty obvious that both men are in need of a career-defining performance here if they ever want to venture beyond journeyman status looking forward. Hardy was recently able to bounce back into the win column for the first time in two years with a first round KO of Duane Ludwig (who is also fighting Saturday) and we last saw Sadollah fend off the dry-humping antics of Jorge Lopez for long enough to secure a decision victory at UFC on FUEL 3. It was a terrible fight despite Sadollah’s best efforts and made next to no sense being placed as the night’s co-main, so let’s hope these two can deliver big this time around.
5. Barnburners, and Lots of ‘Em
Although UFC on FUEL 5 may not feature a ton of names that the casual fan will recognize, it does feature a bunch of fights that are all but guaranteed to deliver. Brad Pickett vs. Yves Jabouin, Che Mills vs. Duane Ludwig, Jason Young vs. Robbie Peralta — some people are gonna fall down, Potato Nation, so make sure to catch the Facebook prelims or come Monday morning you’re gonna have nothing to contribute at the water cooler, which can lead to some pretty awkward situations.
UFC on FUEL 5 kicks off at 4 p.m. EST from the Capital FM Arena, Nottingham, England.