If you were going to bring a good card to the UK, last night’s UFC on Fuel TV 5 was definitely one of those sneaky good under the radar cards. And what a main event as Stefan Struve stops the man whose chin many thought wouldn’t crack under the Swede’s pressure. Now it’s time to figure out where Joe Silva and the gang will go with the five most intriguing winners and losers from this card.
Stefan Struve vs. Mark Hunt – This was supposed to go down at UFC 146 and now it makes even more sense as far as I’m concerned. Struve and Hunt are guys that are ranked between 5 and 8 at this point in the division, one fight away from a title shot depending on what happens with Daniel Cormier in November. Hunt’s also recovering from knee surgery, still, and Fabricio Werdum has a really good chance of getting this fight because he’s not hurt and in a similar spot as hunt. An outside chance for Struve would be Big Nog if he beats Dave Herman in Rio in a couple weeks, as well.
Brad Pickett vs. Michael MacDonald – Pickett mentioned this in his post fight interview and with Renan Barao holding an interim title, and potentially going to wait for Cruz, this could be a fight matchup to make. Mike Easton in a similar spot will be another potential matchup for Pickett as well. Barao’s next matchup will determine who Pickett gets next, most likely, and I’m not sure if the UFC is going to burn a Picket/MacDonald matchup this early with the title still in limbo for a while.
Dan Hardy vs. Josh Koscheck – Koscheck isn’t getting a title shot anytime in the near future but he still is interested in big money fights. Hardy/Koscheck might wind up resembling Hardy’s fight with Anthony “Rumble” Johnson but the trash talk leading up to it will be worth the price of admission alone. Hardy has been adamant at wanting Matt Hughes but Hughes won’t take that fight, most likely. The winner of Mike Pierce/Aaron Simpson or Paulo Thiago/Dong Hyun Kim could be another fight as well. The thing with Hardy is that he has a name and brings a certain cache to his fights but he’s had his title shot and won’t be getting another one any time soon. Thus you can make more interesting matchups with him. If Rory MacDonald gets past BJ Penn on the next UFC on Fox card I’d like to see Hardy/MacDonald, if only for MacDonald to get another high profile fighter on his collection of scalps.
Matt Wiman vs. the winner of Ross Pearson/George Sotiropoulos – Wiman’s in an interesting spot as he just beat the best prospect in the division and did so spectacularly. Sass was a guy a lot of people were riding high on and I think he gets a high profile matchup next. Getting the winner of the Australia vs. UK TUF would qualify it. The winner of Joe Lauzon/Gray Maynard could be in that mix as well as either Donald Cerrone or Anthony Pettis depending on if that matchup can be made due to injury. If Pettis isn’t healthy and this fight is offered you know Cerrone takes it.
Jimi Manuwa vs. Matt Hamill – Manuwa had tremendous striking but Kingsbury showcased that a good wrestler can keep in the game with him. Hamill just had a boring win over Roger Hollett and didn’t show he had much left, it seems. Manuwa has enough firepower in his hands to get a spectacular KO of the deaf wrestling legend. Brandon Vera could be in this spot as well as Ryan Jimmo.
Stipe Miocic vs. Brendan Schaub/Lavar Johnson loser – Miocic got stopped for the first time in his career against Struve but that’s not a bad thing. He took a TON of shots that would’ve stopped a lot of other fighters before finally going out on his shield. Any other fighter would’ve been stopped a long time before Miocic fell, if that’s a consolation, and he’s in the same spot that Ryan Bader was after losing to Jon Jones last January: the fallen prospect needing to rebuild. The loser of Schaub/Johnson will be in a bad way, looking at potentially fighting on the regional circuit with another loss. Shawn Jordan, another fallen prospect, might make sense in this spot as well.
Amir Sadollah vs. Sergio Moraes – Sadollah is the ultimate prospect tester, right after DeMarques Johnson, and Moraes is coming off a spirited effort on the TUF: Brazil finale. Sadollah won’t be seeing a main card for a while so this makes for a nice Facebook fight. Che Mills could be a good pick in this spot as well; he may have a win over Duane Ludwig but winning via your opponent blowing his knee out isn’t really a win per se.
Andy Ogle vs. Jonathan Brookins – Brookins is never a dull fighter and Ogle’s striking against Brookins and his unorthodox takedowns would make for an interesting style matchup. Godofredo Castro, the TUF Brazil featherweight runnerup, would be a good matchup as well. I’d love to see him try to defend Cody McKenzie and his guillotine, which might be the matchup to make as well.
Tom Watson vs. Chris Leben – Leben’s returning and after serving a nearly year-long suspension for a failed drug suspension the landscape has changed in the middleweight division. After losing to Mark Munoz, and taking some time off, he now comes back and the line of contenders is a lot longer than it used to be. Leben is back at the end of the line and Watson lost a tough split decision. It’s not going to get any easier for him, either.
Paul Sass vs. the loser of Mac Danzig/Takanori Gomi – Sass goes from a potential Top 10 matchup to back to the end of the line, especially being a submission expert who just got submitted. Expect for him to get someone like the loser of this fight, a veteran who’ll be a tough matchup but a winnable fight. It’s the same setup as the Jacob Volkmann fight but instead of coming off a win he’ll be coming off a loss.