Fresh off an entertaining UFC 152 card, UFC on Fuel TV 5 has the potential to be one of the most fun fight cards of the year.
Taking place at Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England, and headlined by an entertaining heavyweight scrap between rising contenders Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic, this card features plenty of Europe’s most exciting fighters and should be a ton of fun for MMA fans looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon.
The co-main event between Dan Hardy and Amir Sadollah adds a bit of needed star power to the card, and a couple of awesome main card scraps featuring Brad Pickett vs. Yves Jabouin and Che Mills vs. Duane “Bang” Ludwig are almost destined to deliver.
Overall, UFC on Fuel 5 should be a fantastic card, and is one that will have MMA fans kicking themselves if they miss out on the action, which kicks off with the preliminary card on Facebook at 1 p.m. ET before it’s off to Fuel TV for the main card at 4 p.m. ET.
The MMA Corner’s panel of Sal DeRose, Kyle Symes and Vince Carey break down the entire lineup in this edition of the Round Table.
DeRose: This looks like a pretty interesting and good match-up with Che Mills being backed by his countrymen as he goes against a dangerous Duane Ludwig.
Both guys obviously know how to strike and it will be a tough fight to win on the feet with the winner being the guy who can tough it out longer. This is a possible “Fight of the Night” candidate and will be a pretty technical striking fight.
I don’t think either guy will look to take it to the ground, as both will utilize their striking. Overall, Mills uses his knees and striking well to earn himself a TKO victory in the third.
Symes: I agree with Sal that this could be a “Fight of the Night” winner. Both guys love to strike, and that tends to lead to an exciting fight for fans.
Mills and Ludwig will likely look to establish their striking in the early going, but, unlike Sal, I believe one might try to take it to the ground. Both have had issues on the ground in the past, especially Mills, who can credit three of his five losses to submission.
If the fight stays standing, I believe Mills has the power to end the night for Ludwig. But “Bang” is a gritty veteran who could turn this into a MMA fight by taking it to the mat.
Carey: The UFC does love to give out awards to fighters that stand and bang, so my fellow panelists are probably dead on when calling this a favorite to win “Fight of the Night” honors.
Both Mills and Ludwig can flat out strike, and after seeing Ludwig stand with both Dan Hardy and Amir Sadollah over the last year, there’s no doubt in my mind that “Bang” is going to be looking for the knockout against Mills.
The problem is that I think Mills is just a slightly better striker at this stage of his career. Ludwig still has all the technical skills to hang in there and give Mills trouble on the feet, but “Bang” has been having a lot more difficulty eating shots than he used to and Mills is a legitimate threat to finish anyone at anytime.
The longer this fight goes, the more it could start to favor Ludwig, who seems to really get on a roll as the fight goes longer and hasn’t been finished outside of the first round since 2007.
I love this match-up, but I think Mills is the younger, more explosive fighter that has a bit too much to lose here. I’ll take Mills for the win, by first-round KO.
Symes: Gypsie jiu-jitsu makes a return to the Octagon as John Maguire will bring his own special blend of submission skills against John Hathaway. Maguire has won his first two fights in the UFC while Hathaway has also won two straight in the Octagon.
Hathaway saw his hype train derailed by Mike Pyle, but he is starting to get some momentum going again in the welterweight division. Maguire, meanwhile, has put together seven wins in a row and finished the tough DeMarques Johnson with an armbar in April.
What determines this fight is how well Hathaway can use his height. Maguire stands at just 5-foot-9 and will have to overcome the reach advantage of the Englishman. In the battle of Brits, I’m going to pick Hathaway, simply based on the fact he’s faced a lot tougher competition than Maguire.
Carey: I’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen so far out of Maguire, especially the poise he showed in a grueling three-round battle with Justin Edwards the last time the UFC was in England. Still, as much as I like Maguire’s potential and excellently tricky ground game, it’s really tough to pick against Hathaway here.
Aside from the loss to Pyle that Kyle mentioned, Hathaway has been pretty solid throughout his UFC career and boasts some impressive wins over Rick Story and Diego Sanchez on his resume. Overall, I think Hathaway is a bit better rounded, and I see him getting out of some sticky situations on the mat before earning himself a hard-earned unanimous decision win.
DeRose: Agreed. I’ll make it a clean sweep for Hathaway. I think Hathaway has faced solid competition and has looked good in all his fights outside of the Pyle fight.
Maguire can absolutely win this and has the ground game to do so, but from what I’ve seen, he isn’t at Hathaway’s level quite yet. Maguire has the potential to upset Hathaway here and prove me wrong, but I just can’t see it actually happening.
I think Hathaway utilizes his more complete skill set to outpoint Maguire on his way to a unanimous decision victory. I wouldn’t be too surprised though to see a Maguire submission victory if Hathaway makes a mistake on the ground.
Carey: Can Paul Sass find a way to drag Matt Wiman to the mat? That may be the biggest question in regards to this fight, and if Wiman’s strong wrestling base holds up, it could be a long night for the British submission specialist.
Sass has been destroying fighters with his lethal triangles and heel hooks, but Wiman is a pretty steep step up in competition, and it’s tough to be a one-trick pony in the UFC. Perhaps Sass has some stand-up abilities that no one knows about, or maybe he is just unbelievably good at getting the fight to the floor, but this match-up seems like it could lead to trouble for Sass.
Wiman is a strong lightweight that has a solid resume of wins in front of him, including a “Fight of the Night” performance against Mac Danzig in his last fight, and through 20 career fights, “Handsome” has never been submitted.
Everything is telling me that Wiman should wipe the floor with Sass, but for some reason I think the Brit remains undefeated here. When a fighter becomes known for a certain technique and is still able to pull it off time and time again, it proves that they’re on a completely different level, and I think Sass will eventually get the fight into his realm and earn a triangle victory in the second round.
DeRose: I don’t think there is any question as to how this fight ends, but we’ll delve into it anyway, just for the heck of it.
Wiman certainly has the wrestling to keep Sass at bay, but Sass is one tough guy to stop, even though you know what is coming. Wiman will need to sprawl-and-brawl here to avoid going to the ground and putting Sass in a place where he is most comfortable and certainly can pull off the win.
I don’t think Sass has the stand-up to keep the fight standing and secure the win, so I think his only chance is to somehow drag Wiman down into his own world and try to get the triangle choke set in place.
I think this is a good step up for Sass and will certainly be a good test for him to see where he is at in the division. Sass by triangle choke in the first round.
Symes: The master of the triangle choke will look to slap on another as Sass takes on Wiman. I agree with my colleagues that Wiman will be a big step up for Sass and his wrestling base won’t make things easy for the Englishman.
Picking a one-trick pony in the UFC is a big gamble, as you definitely need more than one move to have major success in the promotion. Wiman isn’t going to fall for a silly trap, so if Sass wants to use his triangle choke then it’s going to take some work. Can he outlast Wiman and get the fight to the mat?
I’m not sure, and I fully expect Sass to begin pulling guard if the early takedowns don’t work. The “Sassangle” could make an appearance, but I’ll take Wiman to outwork the jiu-jitsu specialist.
Symes: It will be a clash of styles as Yves Jabouin will bring his striking background to face Brad Pickett and his submission game. Just like the Sass vs. Wiman match-up, this fight comes down to whether or not Pickett gets the fight to the mat.
Jabouin has the superior striking to drop Pickett, but I don’t believe he will have the time to set up his combinations. Pickett is going to close the distance and not allow the former WEC veteran to get in any kind of rhythm.
I believe Pickett will want to erase the embarrassment he went through the last time he fought in England and, therefore, he takes this fight.
DeRose: Yeah, I can’t see Pickett losing twice in England. I think he is just a step up from Jabouin as well and is better rounded too.
Pickett certainly can end the fight in the blink of an eye with his power punches, but he certainly doesn’t want to stand and trade with Jabouin.
I think eventually this fight hits the mat and the two go at it. Pickett retains top control for a good portion of the fight, hurting and bloodying Jabouin on his way to a stoppage victory. I’ll take Pickett to take the fight by TKO in the third round.
Carey: Looks like Pickett is going to earn the sweep here.
This is probably my favorite fight of the night, and I think both Pickett and Jabouin are going to make this a bout worth watching on Saturday.
Jabouin probably has a slight edge on the feet, but Pickett will make up for it with his pure aggressiveness and actually may have the opportunity to make some noise in the stand-up department.
Once he gets hit with a few shots though, this fight will likely end exactly the way Sal predicted—with Pickett in the top position and raining down an endless barrage of punches to get the stoppage win.
I’d be surprised if this one went the distance, especially if Pickett is able to get the fight to the floor.
DeRose: Dan Hardy gets a chance to win back-to-back fights for the first time since 2009 here with what seems to be a pretty easy fight for him against Amir Sadollah.
Hardy’s game plan is obviously to keep the fight standing and try to get the knockout victory. Sadollah’s striking doesn’t really present a threat in taking care of Hardy, so if it stays vertical, I think Hardy easily dominates the fight.
Sadollah may think about clinching up with Hardy, but I see Sadollah’s only way to victory coming by taking Hardy to the ground and grinding him out for the decision. I don’t think Hardy’s hometown Nottingham crowd would be pleased with that decision.
It’s a high-risk, low-reward fight for Hardy, and he should really have an easy time here. With the home crowd behind him and his knockout power, I think Hardy takes this fight by knockout in the early second round.
Carey: I think Sal’s right in that this is a pretty easy fight for Hardy, but Sadollah is a tough dude and I can’t see him getting floored by “The Outlaw’s” overrated punching power. Remember, only Johny Hendricks has actually earned a stoppage win over the TUF alum, and that knockout is still one of the more controversial stoppages I’ve ever seen.
Hardy can knock a guy out, but his ability to end a fight may have been hyped a bit too much prior to his fight against Georges St-Pierre, and now it seems like everyone expects Hardy go out and blast fools, Chuck Liddell style. It’s not happening here.
Hardy can end the fight if he lands a perfect shot, but Sadollah is a pretty crafty striker in his own right, and I think this one heads to the judges before we see a finish. Sadollah will do enough to make it close and keep “The Outlaw’s” hometown crowd nervous heading into the decision, but Hardy will walk away with the win here.
Symes: I believe my two colleagues are seriously underrating Sadollah’s striking. It’s not anything to write home about, but his Muay Thai has improved by leaps and bounds since the TUF alum made his UFC debut.
Hardy will welcome the chance for Sadollah to turn this into a kickboxing match, but after getting tagged a few times, I don’t see this staying on the feet for very long. Hardy has been touting how improved his grappling game is nowadays, and Sadollah’s kicks will be the perfect opportunity for Hardy to get an easy takedown.
Since joining the UFC back in 2008, Hardy has only lost once in his home country and that was to interim-champion Carlos Condit. I want to pick Sadollah, as he’s the better-rounded fighter, but I think Hardy takes this fight while riding a wave of emotions from the crowd.
Carey: Stefan Struve has struggled against the top fighters in the heavyweight division throughout his UFC career, so this fight may tell us more about Stipe Miocic than it does “The Skyscraper.”
Struve was outclassed in his losses against Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson and Travis Browne, but he’s proven to be one of the more formidable fighters in the weight class since he entered the Octagon, and he has an 8-3 UFC record to show for it.
Miocic is a solid prospect with heavy hands and a wrestling background, and he’s been called a future title contender after he impressed against Phil De Fries and Shane Del Rosario in his last two fights. Over the next few years, Miocic could truly blossom into one of the better fighters in the heavyweight division and at 30 years old, he should be entering the prime of his career soon enough. However, I think he just got into the game too late and despite his talents, I see Struve earning the win here.
Struve’s recent wins over solid gatekeepers in Pat Barry, Dave Herman and Lavar Johnson have left me wanting to see if he has improved enough to become a contender, and I think he’ll get the job done against Miocic with a quick submission and force himself into another bout with a top-ten opponent.
Symes: I still can’t grasp the idea of how someone who’s as tall as Struve hasn’t learned to use their height. Struve is better than the mid-tier level of heavyweights he’s been defeating lately, which is exactly where Miocic finds himself ranked.
I, like Vince, believe this fight will be a good barometer of how much Struve has improved. I also believe it will be a good indicator of where Miocic is heading in his UFC career. Either man has the chance to leap into the upper echelon of heavyweights with an impressive showing.
I will disagree with Vince on the outcome, however. Struve’s height actually works against him once fighters close the distance, as it’s nearly impossible for him to tuck his chin. His kryptonite has been heavy strikers, and Miocic is just that. “The Skyscraper” has the better overall game, but unless he’s finally figured out how to fight tall, I see Miocic closing the distance and landing a strong punch on Struve’s chin.
DeRose: I have to agree with both of my fellow writers here in saying that this is a great test for Struve. I think if Struve gets past Miocic here, he may finally crack the top-ten heavyweights and start reaching his potential.
Getting through Miocic won’t be easy though, and Miocic is another guy who is an up-and-comer and has panned out really well in the UFC. He has a good mix of striking and wrestling that help make him a dangerous opponent for Struve.
Regardless of where this fight ends up, I think Miocic has a good shot at winning. On the ground, he has to watch the long legs of Struve that could possibly set up a triangle choke or an armbar from guard.
I’m with Kyle on this one though—I think Miocic is able to close in and keep the distance close and land a big power punch. I’m just not totally sold yet on Struve like I am with Miocic.
DeRose: Robert Peralta and Jason Young meet in what could be a pretty good fight. Peralta owns a lot of knockout victories and Young is in a possible do-or-die fight with the UFC. I’ll take Peralta by TKO in the third.
Symes: Peralta has the stand-up skills to end the fight at a moment’s notice, but the question is whether he can land one of his strikes before Young does? I’d like to believe Young will win in front of his countrymen, but Peralta is riding a nine-fight winning streak. Peralta via TKO.
Carey: This is a sneaky fun fight. Peralta is a talented fighter at 145, but Young has been fighting some pretty good competition inside the Octagon over the last year and has held his own. Peralta would probably be better off taking Young to the mat where the Brit has struggled, but he seems to love to stand and trade, so I’m going against the grain on this one. Young outworks Peralta on the feet and earns himself another fight in the UFC with a decision victory.
Symes: DeMarques Johnson is as tough as they come, but he isn’t anything more than a middle-of-the-pack welterweight fighter at this point in his career. I’m going with the European prospect everyone is buzzing about, Gunnar Nelson, based on the fact that Johnson is taking the fight on short notice.
Carey: You have to love the fighter’s spirit that Johnson is showing by taking this fight on such short notice, but this is Nelson’s chance to shine in his Octagon debut. Nelson is known for his grappling skills, and while Johnson can pull of a submission or two of his own, the prospect is on another level on the mat, and I expect him to get it there rather quickly. Nelson takes this by first-round submission, but don’t expect Johnson to get the ax after his second straight stoppage loss.
DeRose: The buzz around Nelson is just way too good to pass up here. Johnson is a decent fighter, but the reviews Nelson has received help me to decide my pick for this fight. I’ll take a ride on the hype train here and pick Nelson by second-round submission.
Carey: Like many MMA fans, I’ve been looking forward to the UFC debut of Tom Watson for quite some time. Watson has been one of the best international fighters in the world over the last few years, but the competition in the UFC is on a completely different level and it will be interesting to see if he is up to the challenge in his UFC debut. Tavares is a tough opponent, but overall I think Watson’s skill set is a bit better and he’ll earn the decision win in a decently exciting contest.
DeRose: Tavares might be a tough challenge for the UFC newcomer, but I think Watson can handle it. Watson does have the edge in his overall skill set and should be able to easily get the W here. I’ll take Watson by decision.
Symes: The long wait for Watson to step in the Octagon will finally be over this Saturday. Tavares will be a game opponent, but I see Watson taking the fight.
Symes: Both Akira Corassani and Andy Ogle will look to put the injury bug behind them and finally step into the Octagon. Corassani has the striking to KO Ogle, but I believe his over-aggressiveness will give Ogle the opening to take the fight to the mat.
DeRose: I agree with Kyle, and I’m not a big fan of Corassani anyway. I think his over-aggressiveness will ultimately end his night against Ogle. Or Ogle can end up getting knocked out in similar fashion like his knockout loss to Al Iaquinta on TUF. I’ll go with Ogle for the win.
Carey: I honestly don’t expect too much out of either of these two, but it will be fun to watch a couple of the more entertaining recent TUF competitors go head to head. Like Sal, I’m not a huge fan of Corassani based on his performances on the reality show, but if he is able to lay his hands on Ogle’s chin, it could be a short night for the Brit. However, I like Ogle’s stand-up game a bit more than I do Corassani’s, and I expect Ogle to walk away with the decision victory here.
DeRose: I’ve been waiting a while to see Jimi Manuwa in the Octagon, and now it’s time. Kingsbury and Manuwa are pretty even overall, but I think Manuwa’s potential and from what I’ve seen from him will allow him to take the cake. Manuwa by knockout.
Carey: I’m all in on Sal’s prediction. We have no way of knowing how Manuwa will handle performing at the highest level, but I like his potential enough to give him the advantage over Kingsbury. The Brit cleans up early with a big first-round knockout.
Symes: Let’s make it three for three, as I’ll take the blue-chip prospect Manuwa over Kingsbury as well. Manuwa may not keep his impressive fight-finishing streak alive, as Kingsbury is tough, but the fact Manuwa is on the prelims compared to live TV will likely help calm his nerves.
Top Photo: Stefan Struve (L) lands a knee (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)