Action From Across The Pond: UFC On Fuel TV 5 Has Potential As A Strong Showing

By Raphael Garcia

Eyes will be across the pond, as the Ultimate Fighting Championship presents a card filled with interesting prospects from top to bottom. UFC on Fuel TV 5 will come to us from Nottingham, England, and features matchups with fighters who will have the opportunity to be considered the “hometown favorite” for the first time in their UFC careers. With that in mind, a lot of storylines are worth paying attention to if you’re a fight fan.

At the top is a heavyweight bout between Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic. Struve and Miocic are both on the outside looking in on the divisional title picture. Beyond individuals such as Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, the heavyweight division’s contender listing is open for debate. Struve has put together a three fight win streak that has improved his UFC record to 8-3.

At 30 years of age, Miocic hasn’t put together quite the run to match his opponent, but he has been impressive in two years of professional competition. With a record of 9-0, he has delivered some form of knockout to seven opponents, including the last two inside the Octagon. His striking ability plays right into Struve’s weakness, as we’ve seen him get rocked and dropped multiple times in the past. Struve has shown improvement at using his height to keep fighters at bay, but Miocic has shown the technical ability to land blows from various angles.

The winner of this fight should expect to be ranked within the top ten to fifteen fighters in the weight class, with a number of opportunities available to increase his placement in 2013.

As for the rest of the UFC on Fuel TV 5 card, multiple bouts stand out as fights to look forward to seeing. The long-awaited UFC debut of Gunnar Nelson, who’s spent two years honing his craft, has been well documented. If he can come in and stop DaMarques Johnson with a highlight reel submission or another kind of stoppage, he can quickly become a star in a welterweight division that is looking for new faces to excite fans.

Fans shouldn’t be afraid when they see a man in a gorilla mask make his way to the cage, as Tom “Kong” Watson will also make his Octagon debut on this card. Another heavy hitter with seven knockout victories, Watson may remind fans of Phil Baroni, but he has more tools in his back pocket. As with Nelson, Watson has to make a splash in the middleweight division, and he can do so by defeating Brad Tavares in a fashion that captures everyone attention.

John Hathaway and Paul Sass are two English fighters that have been very impressive in their respective weight classes. At 170, Hathaway is 6-1, and has defeated some important fighters in Diego Sanchez and Rick Story. While he is often overlooked in the weight class, if he pulls out his second victory of 2012 by winning his matchup with John Maguire, it will be interesting to see what types of fights are given to Hathaway going forward.

Sass is 3-0 as a lightweight in less than 10 minutes of work in the Octagon. Matt Wiman is the biggest name that he’s faced so far, and would be a win that would catapult Sass towards more important matchups. However, it is important to note that Wiman has never been submitted in his eight-year career, which goes against Sass’s abilities, which have coaxed 12 tapout stoppages.

Dan Hardy and Brad Pickett are featured in some bouts that look very good as well. Hardy’s fighting to turn around his career, and Amir Sadollah is the type to stand and trade with his opponents. This is the type of fight where knockouts are expected, and if so, either Sadollah or Hardy will walk away with a successful evening.

Pickett has been bouncing up and down in the bantamweight division since 2010. Losing to title contenders and eventual champions, he hasn’t been able to put together a strong run in the weight class. Yves Jabouin is a staple within this division, and is the type of opponent that Pickett needs to defeat in order to put together a streak that will grab the attention of matchmakers, and set up future title considerations.

While UFC on Fuel TV 5 is going to be a tough sell because it’s on a channel that many people do not have, and will air on a Saturday afternoon as opposed to a Saturday night. However, it is still a very solid event that should give the MMA media and fight fans alike some great fights to talk about when the event is over.

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