Two legitimate welterweight stand-up artists will be stepping into the cage this Saturday afternoon (Sept. 29, 2012) as British bomber Che Mills takes on veteran kickboxer Duane Ludwig in the opening bout of the UFC on FUEL TV 5 main card in Nottingham, England.
Che Mills got off to a tremendous start in the UFC with a vicious first round knockout of Chris Cope, but he came back down to Earth after being thrown to the wolves against rising star Rory MacDonald in his last bout at UFC 145 earlier this year. He'll be looking to get back to his winning ways.
Duane Ludwig holds the fastest knockout in UFC history, but he's got his back against the wall heading into this bout having lost two straight fights including a devastating knockout at the hands of Dan Hardy earlier this year. Ludwig will be in desperation mode to get the W on Saturday.
Will Mills be able to outstrike the kickboxer this weekend? Can Ludwig "Bang" Mills into submission with his veteran experience in the striking realm? What's the key to victory for both welterweights on Saturday?
Let's find out:Che Mills
Record: 14-5 (1 no contest) overall, 1-1 in the UFC
Key Losses: Rory MacDonald (UFC 145), Jim Wallhead (KUMMA 3)
How he got here: Che Mills got off to a rough start in his mixed martial arts career, losing two of his first three bouts, but then something clicked for British striker and he went on a terrific nine fight unbeaten streak which included two victories over former Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis.
Mills again ran into trouble against Jim Wallhead and Japanese grappler Yuyu Sharai, but got right back on track with four straight wins which included a decision against current UFC 170-pounder Jake Hecht.
The victories earned him a shot on the UFC 138 preliminary card against The Ultimate Fighter season 13 alumni Chris Cope and Mills made the most of it, destroying Cope with a beautiful knee to the face followed by some ground and pound to earn a 40 second finish and a $70,000 bonus for "Knockout of the Night."
He asked for a huge step up in competition and he got it when UFC needed an opponent for Rory MacDonald, but it was far too much, too fast for the Brit. Mills was battered bloody by MacDonald and was eventually stopped in the second round. He's hoping to right the ship against Duane Ludwig on Saturday.
How he gets it done: Mills has some strong kickboxing skills and he absolutely needs to keep this fight standing. He's explosive with punches, kicks and knees. He has to utilize good footwork and try to crack Ludwig with his punches from a distance. He holds a six inch reach advantage so if he can keep "Bang" at bay, he might be able to pull it off.
While both men are almost certainly going to be looking to stand and trade, Mills can't just expect it. There's a possibility that Ludwig shoots for a takedown if things aren't going his way so the Brit needs to be wary of it and be prepared to shut the shot down if need be.
Speed kills and Mills should be the faster fighter here.
Record: 21-13 overall, 4-4 in the UFC
How he got here: Duane "Bang" Ludwig has spent a lengthy career in both mixed martial arts and kickboxing. He actually started both professionally at about the same time back in 2000, when he fought five times in MMA and at least three kickboxing matches.
His overall kickboxing record was 48-7-1 but he's no longer a regular competitor in the sport, instead choosing to focus on MMA.
After a successful run outside of the UFC, including a brilliant knockout of former UFC champion Jens Pulver, he made his UFC debut against Genki Sudo, winning a close split decision. In his return to the UFC nearly three years later, he would go on to score the fastest knockout in UFC history against Jonathan Goulet, so fast that the timekeeper didn't realize the fight was over already and the knockout is still officially recorded as 11 seconds despite happening nearly twice as quickly.
Ludwig spent much of the next three years competing in Strikeforce as well as the Colorado MMA promotion ROF before again returning to the UFC against Jim Miller in early 2010, losing via arm bar in the first round. His return fight against Darren Elkins would be cut short after a freak injury to his ankle while defending a takedown forced a stop to the fight.
After healing up for eight months, the Grudge fighter moved up to welterweight and eeked out a close split decision victory over Nick Osipczak in Germany. He followed it up by taking on Ultimate Fighter season seven winner Amir Sadollah and severely outstriking him over the course of three rounds in his best performance in the UFC since his return to the promotion.
Unfortunately, that was the highlight of Ludwig's latest run in the UFC. He's since lost two straight bouts, getting knocked out and submitted in the first round by Dan Hardy and Josh Neer respectively. He could be fighting for his job against Mills.
How he gets it done: Duane Ludwig loves to strike. What more can be said about the man with the fastest knockout in UFC history as well as 56 professional kickboxing matches? He's got a strong base in Muay Thai kickboxing and he'll be looking to use his excellent technique against Mills, a fellow striker with big power.
Ludwig's key on the feet is to slip and counter. He destroyed Amir Sadollah with counter shots and he can definitely do that again if the opportunity presents itself.
If Ludwig really wants to catch Mills by surprise, he'll mix it up with a few takedowns. While he's not going to be submitting anyone anytime soon, Ludwig has improved wrestling and he took Sadollah down on a few occasions without getting himself in trouble.
Mills presents little to no threat at all if the fight hits the canvas so Ludwig could definitely score some points if he takes the fight there.
Fight X-Factor: The X-Factor for this fight has to be the wear and tear on Duane Ludwig throughout his fighting career. He's been getting punched and kicked since he was 15 years old. That was 19 years ago. The experience is impressive but his body has to be feeling all kinds of aches and pains. He was knocked out badly by Dan Hardy in his last fight and if both Mills and Ludwig land a shot at the same time, it'll likely be Ludwig that goes down.
Bottom Line: This bout is going to be fun. Both Ludwig and Mills likely will stand and bang for the majority of this fight and someone is likely going down. Both men have knockout power and both can be stopped via strikes. This is the perfect bout to get the night started because it's practically guaranteed excitement.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 5? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!