UFC on Fuel TV 7 is set to go down next weekend, and it could possibly be the most stacked Fuel TV card to date. The main event features interim UFC bantamweight champ Renan Barao making his first title defense since winning the belt against Urijah Faber at UFC 149. Facing Barao will be one of the true “young guns” of the UFC, Michael McDonald.

McDonald is coming off a very impressive win over former WEC champion Miguel Torres and is without a doubt one of the best bantamweights in the world.

Even outside the title fight, the card for UFC on Fuel TV 7 is stacked with a number of quality fighters. Many of them aren’t household names yet, but they soon will be.

The co-main event features a pair of exciting featherweights as Cub Swanson and Dustin Poirier go to battle. Swanson has enjoyed  a career revival after going through a rough patch in his transition from the WEC to the UFC. His opponent, Poirier, could be challenging for a world title had he not lost to “The Korean Zombie” Chan-Sung Jung last year. Still, the fight proved to be an instant classic and showed that Poirier is a name MMA fans will know and hear for quite some time.

Going down the card, the first name that fans may not have heard of but will come to know is England’s Jimi Manuwa. The fighter actually spent time in prison and, after a troubled upbringing, found a purpose in competing in MMA. The massively-built Manuwa won all of his fights in England before the end of the final bell with all but one coming by way of knockout. Manuwa announced his arrival to the UFC scene by putting on a vicious display of violence against Kyle Kingsbury, who was left with vision in only one eye following the massive swelling. The end came after the second round as the doctors called the fight, awarding Manuwa his 12th MMA victory.

One name in particular that should shine above the rest after his career is all said and done is that of Gunnar Nelson. The Icelandic fighter made a name for himself in the combat sports world by becoming one of the best European grapplers in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. When Nelson was signed by the UFC, the only question fans had was, “What took so long?” Nelson, like Manuwa, has fought once before in the UFC. The European prospect picked up a victory over DeMarques Johnson, a loss for Johnson that, coupled with him missing weight, forced the UFC to release the longtime UFC vet.

The card also features what should be a instant “Fight of the Night” candidate when Ryan Jimmo faces James Te Huna. Jimmo is coming off one of the best debuts in UFC history after he dropped Anthony Perosh with a single punch in just seven seconds at UFC 149. Canada’s top light heavyweight will look to continue his success, but it won’t be easy against dark horse title contender Te Huna. The New Zealander has put together three straight victories, including a very impressive showing against Joey Beltran last July.

Also littered throughout the card are a number of talented English prospects. Che Mills drew a tough card in his sophomore UFC appearance against Rory MacDonald, but bounced back against Duane Ludwig. Terry Etim will look to get back to his winning ways and erase the memory of Edson Barboza’s kick that ended his night at UFC 142. Paul Sass is arguably one of England’s best submission artists and will no doubt look to apply the “Sass-angle” on Danny Castillo in their contest. Tom “Kong” Watson was one of Europe’s top prospects prior to signing with the UFC and will look to get the taste of defeat from a split decision loss to Brad Tavares out of his mouth as he faces Stanislav Nedkov.

All in all, the card for UFC on Fuel TV 7 is stacked with a number of great fighters who will be given the opportunity to ascend from the rank of prospect to contender. MMA fans will no doubt be tuning in for the UFC title fight in the main event, but they should definitely keep an eye on what the future of MMA could look like by watching the entire card.

Photo: Barao will put his interim title on the line at UFC on Fuel TV 7 (Gleidson Venga/Sherdog)

  • Daniel Brown

    “Che Mills drew a tough card in his UFC debut against Rory MacDonald”.

    That was Che’s 2nd UFC fight. His first was at UFC 138 vs Chris Cope. KO’d him in less than a minute.

    • Bryan Henderson, Editor-in-Chief

      Daniel, thanks for pointing out the error…it has been corrected.

  • Denny

    While I realize that promoters often blur the lines between fact and image, I think it’s bad when those who wish to be considered “journalists” do it.

    Mills’ debut was vs. Chris Cope. Rory was his 2nd fight. And “dark horse title contender” as a description for Te Huna is stretching.

    • Bryan Henderson, Editor-in-Chief

      Denny,

      Thanks for pointing out the mistake on Mills, it has been corrected. Even major sites make mistakes like that.

      As far as Te Huna, I do think there’s some justification in Kyle calling him a “dark horse.” When he first entered the UFC, nobody expected him to do as well as he has. He is 4-1 right now inside the Octagon, but he still isn’t someone regularly mentioned as being near the front of the line for a title shot. His lone UFC loss was to Gustafsson and he has yet to beat a top-tier guy – Pokrajac and Beltran are arguably his biggest wins (Beltran failed a drug test and is 5-5 in the UFC, Pokrajac has been a major bust and is 4-5 in the UFC) and his other two UFC fights were against guys who are now each 1-2 in the UFC.

  • Denny

    and it PALES in comparison to Fuel 9.