UFC on Fuel TV 1 will be the first of many events that will take place on Fuel TV and the UFC has done their best to stack the cards with not only fights that have the possibility to excite fans, but also with fights that actually mean something.

The main event is a welterweight fight between two of the best in the division, as Diego Sanchez will take on Jake Ellenberger in a fight that now has title implications written all over it. With everything that has recently happened in the welterweight division, it is possible that the winner of this fight will be move into title contention.

In addition to the main event, UFC on Fuel TV 1 is stacked with top match-ups that will certainly offer fans an exciting night of fights. The event takes place on Feb. 15 from the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Neb. The preliminary portion of this card will be aired on Facebook with the main portion of the card airing on Fuel TV.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Josh Davis, Duncan Price and Richard Wilcoxon break down the five-fight main card in this edition of the Round Table.

BW: T.J. Dillashaw (4-1) vs. Walel Watson (9-3)

Price: This contest features two upstart bantamweights eager to carve out a niche for themselves in the division.

Watson entered the UFC after streaking to an 8-2 mark outside of the organization. In his Octagon debut, Watson faced fellow newcomer Joseph Sandoval and was able to dispatch him quickly via TKO in the first round. The win brought a step-up in competition though, as Watson went on to meet wily striker Yves Jabouin at UFC 140. Both men fought hard and the action went back and forth, but Jabouin was eventually awarded the split decision.

Although Watson has showcased his striking ability in the UFC so far, he does hold seven career submission victories, so he does possess at least a moderate amount of skill on the mat.

Dillashaw arrived in the promotion via a different route, as he competed on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Bisping vs. Team Miller. After impressing on the show and making it into the finals, Dillashaw was handily beaten for the TUF title by the experienced John Dodson. Known primarily for his outstanding wrestling ability and prowess, Dillashaw can also pull off a submission of his own should he get the opportunity.

Walel Watson (L) battles Yves Jabouin (James Law/Heavy.com)

There has been a trend of wrestlers rising up through the ranks in recent years and I think this could be another example. Watson needs to knock out Dillashaw quickly or it will likely go all three rounds. For my money, Dillashaw raises his game, controls Watson and grinds out the unanimous decision.

Wilcoxon: In my mind, this is a really close fight. However, I am going to go the other way.

I actually picked Dillashaw to win his season of TUF. I thought the combination of his wrestling skills and coming from a top camp made him a likely choice to go all the way. However, two things raised a red flag for me during the season. First, his attitude. He actually campaigned to get easier fights in a very blatant way I had never seen done before. Whatever happened to an “I can beat anyone” attitude? And secondly, how easily he was beat by Dodson. Dodson used speed to survive until he could unload on Dillashaw.

Watson will present a host of challenges. He is athletic and elusive. He will hold a five-inch height advantage and probably even more of a reach advantage. He is fast. He holds a purple belt in BJJ and has shown the ability to throw a variety of strikes.

Dillashaw does have a shot at taking Watson to the ground and grinding out a decision, but I think it is more likely that Watson will time a strike on the much smaller Dillashaw. Watson wins this via TKO.

Davis: It should be another exciting fight in the bantamweight division.

I have to agree with Richard on this one. I too believe that Watson is going to pose significant challenges for Dillashaw due to his size advantage and his athletic abilities. Dillashaw is very athletic himself, but his athleticism will not be enough for him in this fight.

Dillashaw has a ton of potential and he will certainly be a force in the future, but Watson will win this fight. Watson wins via unanimous decision.

HW: Stipe Miocic (7-0) vs. Philip De Fries (8-0)

Wilcoxon: This is a fight between two solid prospects. Both fighters won their debuts for the UFC and will now square off as undefeated fighters in their second outings.

Miocic is a former Golden Gloves boxer who showed his skills by standing and trading with Joey Beltran in his debut. He is also a former NCAA wrestler, a skill that I think is far more important in this fight.

De Fries is a submission specialist. Before his UFC debut, the Brit finished every fighter he faced by submission.

Stipe Miocic (R) battles Joey Beltran (James Law/Heavy.com)

I usually take the grappler when they face a striker, but I am going to buck that trend here. UK-based fighters are not known for their wrestling. Once you add in Miocic’s wrestling background, I think he dictates where this fight happens. Miocic will win this by a late TKO or a one-sided decision.

Davis: This is one of my favorite fights on this card. If you are a casual fan, you might not have heard of either of these fighters, but do not sleep on this fight as it could be the fight of the night.

As Richard stated, Miocic is both an NCAA wrestler and former Golden Glove boxer and overall he is a very well-rounded fighter. He has speed and power in both hands and he knows how to use his striking to set up his wrestling and vice versa, which is a very explosive combination.

De Fries, on the other hand, will be looking for submissions. He has a very solid ground game and is effective from both the top and bottom positions. De Fries will be at a significant disadvantage in the striking game and will need to get this fight to the ground as quickly as possible.

This fight is truly going to be a battle of styles, and in this case, I think that Miocic’s style will be to much for De Fries to handle. Miocic wins this fight by second-round TKO.

Price: As is quite often the case, I find myself rooting for a Brit who I don’t think will win.

The guys have said that De Fries is a submission specialist, which I agree with, but he couldn’t tap Rob Broughton at UFC 138 and that concerns me. He is certainly nowhere near as ferocious with his attempts as, for example, someone like Paul Sass. I was pleasantly surprised by his ability to get Broughton to the mat, but his wrestling is not on a par with Miocic by any stretch of the imagination.

Miocic seems to hold all the keys in this match-up, as he holds the edge in virtually every area. With his grappling and boxing credentials, this should be fairly simple work for a man who has far from reached his ceiling in the heavyweight division.

I agree with both of my esteemed colleagues in taking Miocic, but I have this as a real squash. Although I’d love him to prove me wrong, De Fries loses by violent knockout in the first round.

MW: Aaron Simpson (11-2) vs. Ronny Markes (12-1)

Davis: At 6-2 in the UFC with his only two losses coming to Chris Leben and Mark Munoz, Aaron Simpson has proved that not only does he belong in the UFC, but he is near the top of the ladder in the middleweight division. Though he is still a few wins away from title contention, his aggressive fighting style has won him fans worldwide.

Markes made his UFC debut at UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle as a replacement for Stephan Bonnar, and he made the most of his opportunity by defeating Karlos Vemola via unanimous decision. Now he will be making his middleweight debut against a very tough opponent in Simpson. Markes, however, is no slouch and he certainly possesses the tools to be a great fighter in the UFC. If Markes is going to win this fight, he is going to need to get his punches off first and use his striking to dictate the pace.

Aaron Simpson (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

On paper, this fight really could go either way. Simpson has a significant advantage in Octagon experience and I look for him to use this experience to help him get the victory. Simpson wins by decision.

Price: I have always been impressed by Simpson, as he always seems to find a way to win, especially against those further down the middleweight ladder. His only two career losses came against top-level competition, and he took Munoz to a decision, which is a minor achievement in itself. Style-wise, Simpson likes to impose his will, keep the pressure on his rival at all times and utilize his dirty boxing.

I am not as familiar with Markes, as most of his fights have taken place in Brazil, but he showed real promise in his outing against Vemola. Markes was able to out-grapple the former Czech wrestling champion, which came as surprise, particularly to his opponent. That contest actually took place at light heavyweight and Markes will drop to middleweight to face Simpson, so it will be intriguing as to whether he retains his power and cardio in the lower classification.

One man is holding steady and the other seems to be a hot prospect, so it is tough to split them. I agree with Josh though: Simpson has fought a total of eight times in the Octagon and sometimes you can’t beat experience. Markes gives Simpson a test, but I also believe the veteran takes it by unanimous decision.

Wilcoxon: My colleagues broke down this fight accurately and I find myself with little to add. Simpson will look to mix his boxing with his wrestling and ground-and pound. Markes seems to have big hands and showed off his grappling in his last outing.

Experience in general, and experience against quality fighters gives Simpson an advantage in my opinion. While Simpson is getting older, I don’t think he is ready to give up his spot yet. Simpson will trade with Markes before taking him down, where he will grind out a decision.

HW: Stefan Struve (22-5) vs. Dave Herman (21-2)

Wilcoxon: If the main event isn’t Fight of the Night, this one very well could be. Dave Herman is a big man, standing 6-foot-5, but he will be the smaller man in this fight. Herman possesses a wrestling background, but prefers to stand and trade with opponents. He has finished 20 opponents, 15 by TKO.

Struve is the tallest man to ever compete in the UFC. He stands an amazing 6-foot-11, and at only 23 years of age has already competed in 27 pro fights with this being his tenth fight in the UFC. However, despite his height and long reach, Struve tends to submit his opponents to earn a victory. As Struve continues to gain experience, he really could be the future of the heavyweight division, but this is a tough fight for him.

Stefan Struve (L) battles Pat Barry (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

The game plan for Herman will be very similar to his UFC debut against John Olav Einemo, another big man that prefers to submit his opponents. Keep the fight standing and pounce on openings. Struve has lost four fights via TKO and Herman hits hard. Herman wins in the second round with Knockout of the Night honors.

Price: It’s always tough to call a heavyweight bout, as there is often so much power on show that virtually anyone can beat anyone else on a given night.

With that in mind, although I’m not a massive fan of Herman, you certainly can’t count him out here against Struve. I wasn’t overly impressed with his UFC debut against Einemo, but there is no denying that Herman has heavy hands and a wealth of experience outside of the organization.

Whilst it’s hard to pick against Struve, it can also be hard to pick for him, as his form in the UFC has been fairly erratic. What I do like about Struve is that he is dangerous in almost every area of the game. His lanky limbs enable him to not only land strikes from distance, but also lock up submissions that other competitors would not even attempt.

In weighing up the result, the crucial question to me is whether Herman has more to offer than he showed in his first Octagon outing. If so, then Herman takes the TKO early on, but I’m afraid I don’t see it and that’s why I’ll take Struve by submission in the second round.

Davis: Anytime Struve steps into the Octagon you know you are going to be in for some fireworks. Struve is the tallest fighter in the UFC and he is also one of the more exciting fighters to watch in the heavyweight division. Struve has won fans over worldwide with his go-for-broke fighting mentality. However, it is this same mentality that has seen him get knocked out four times. The biggest knock on Struve at this point in his career is his chin. Even if Struve does have a weak chin, he has been able to make up for it with his well-rounded fight game. He has solid kickboxing to go along with solid submissions and, at 6-foot-11, he is a formidable foe for anybody.

Herman is a very heavy-handed striker and is one of the top prospects in the division. Though many fans still do not know who he is, a win over Struve would go along way to making him a household name. Herman certainly possesses the power and skill to knock out Struve, but will he be able to deal with Struve’s length and get inside to land the knockout punch?

I have to agree with Duncan, I believe Struve wins this fight by submission in the second round.

WW: Diego Sanchez (23-4) vs. Jake Ellenberger (26-5)

Price: In a battle of two standout welterweights, the winner of this eagerly-anticipated contest must be in line with a chance of fighting for the title this year.

Ellenberger enters the bout on a five-fight winning streak which has seen him defeat the likes of Mike Pyle, John Howard and most recently Jake Shields. Impressively, Ellenberger was able to knock out Shields in under a minute at UFC Fight Night 25, handing the former championship contender only his second career loss via strikes.

The only recent blemish on Ellenberger’s record came as he stepped up on short notice to make his UFC debut and face Carlos Condit back in 2009. In a tight battle, Condit edged Ellenberger for the victory by split decision, but both men walked away with their reputations greatly enhanced.

Diego Sanchez, on the other hand, made his name by beating some of the biggest names in both the 155- and 170-pound divisions. After finally challenging for a title at lightweight, and coming away without the belt, Sanchez decided that he would be quicker and stronger at his more natural welterweight size. Initially, he hit a bump in the road as John Hathaway easily outpointed him at UFC 114, but since then he has rebounded with wins over Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann. Most pundits would agree that he is well below Ellenberger in the rankings at this point, although a convincing win would likely see Sanchez leapfrog his opponent.

This is an interesting match-up of style and skill, as both men have their roots set in the world of wrestling. Admittedly, Ellenberger holds the overall advantage in the grappling stakes, but Sanchez is the more talented submission artist. On the feet it really is a toss up, as Ellenberger possesses true knockout power, whereas Sanchez likes to use his speed to land stiff jabs and hooks.

For me, Ellenberger is the future of the division and arguably one of the few active welterweights that would give Georges St-Pierre a run for his money. Sanchez is certainly not going to be a walkover and I believe the fight will go the full three rounds, but Ellenberger takes this one by razor-thin decision.

Davis: As Duncan stated above, this fight is between two of the best in the welterweight division and has the potential to be one of the best fights of the year.

Diego Sanchez (Sherdog)

Sanchez is back home with his team at Greg Jackson’s camp and he has put many of his personal issues behind him in a desire to prove to the world that he can be a champion. In order for Sanchez to get back to title contention, he must get back to his roots. He needs to stop relying on his average striking and get back to being the ground-and-pound specialist that made him one of the more feared fighters in the division. If Sanchez tries to stand and exchange with Ellenberger, he will find himself waking up on his backside.

After losing his UFC debut to Condit, Ellenberger has stormed through his competition and he plans to do the same thing to Sanchez. Unlike Sanchez, Ellenberger has solid stand-up with knockout power in both hands. In addition to his excellent stand-up, Ellenberger also has solid grappling and wrestling. In order for Ellenberger to win this fight, he will need to use his stand-up to keep Sanchez backing up to set up effective takedowns. If Ellenberger can frustrate Sanchez on the feet, he should be able to get the victory.

Both of these fighters are very hungry and they know they must win to stay relevant in the title picture. Sanchez has been in this position before and he certainly has the edge in experience. However, Ellenberger has fought some of the best in the division and will not be intimidated by Sanchez. I agree with Duncan, Ellenberger will take the fight to Sanchez and will win via decision.

Wilcoxon: This could easily be Fight of the Night. Both fighters have shown an aggressive, go-for-broke style that fans love.

Diego burst into the UFC coming off the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. He used an aggressive straight-forward style mixed with great takedowns that showed why he had the nickname “The Nightmare.” In recent years, he changed his nickname to “The Dream” and his style with it. He has kept his straight-forward style, but hasn’t looked for the takedowns or ground-and-pound as much.

In order to win, I think Diego needs to become “The Nightmare” instead of “The Dream.” He needs to return to mixing up his striking with takedowns.

However, even that style may not be enough. Ellenberger has a wrestling background, but he primarily uses it defensively. He burst onto the scene in his debut in the UFC against Condit. He may have lost the fight, but many fans thought he won. He uses solid striking mixed with big power punches. The one concern for Ellenberger is his cardio. When he faced another fast-paced, high-volume fighter in Condit, he gassed badly and allowed Condit to steal the fight.

The longer the fight goes, the more of a chance Diego has to steal it. I don’t think Ellenberger will give him the chance. I agree with my colleagues: Ellenberger is going to win, but I think he ends it in the second round via TKO.

Top Photo: Jake Ellenberger (R) (Tracy Lee/Yahoo! Sports)

About The Author

Josh Davis
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Josh Davis is the owner and President of The MMA Corner, LLC. He has been a fan of mixed martial arts since seeing UFC 1 in his hometown. In addition to his The MMA Corner responsibilities, Josh is the editor of Scrapp! Fight Magazine. Josh has also written for MMA Unleashed and MMA Sports magazines. Josh also manages some of Colorado's best up and coming fighters and is dedicated to the positive promotion of the sport.