Nevermind the bollocks!
With the UFC 151 debacle well behind us, the fall line up for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is in full swing. This Saturday (Sept. 29, 2012) afternoon, its four-week stretch of bouts continues with the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's fifth show on FUEL TV.
Headlining UFC on Fuel TV 5, which is set to go down at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England, are two of the Heavyweight division's brightest young stars: Heavy-handed wrestling standout Stipe Miocic and Dutch giant Stefan Struve.
Yesterday, we previewed the two bouts that comprise the initial Facebook portion of the "Prelims" under card right here. Today, we share breakdowns of the remaining three that will air live -- and for free -- on Facebook before the FUEL TV-televised event starts at 4 p.m. ET.
Let's get cracking:
205 lbs.: Kyle Kingsbury vs. Jimi Manuwa
Despite losing twice on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 and again in the Finale, American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product Kyle Kingsbury (11-4) was given another shot on the biggest stage in MMA and made the most of it, winning four straight, including a 21-second pasting of Ricardo Romero and a grueling decision win over Fabio Maldonado.
The great run of "Kingsbu" came to a screeching halt, however, when he ran into Stephan Bonnar at UFC 139 and got completely outgrappled. Having been dropped and submitted in less than two minutes against Glover Teixiera last time out, Kingsbury could be fighting for his UFC life in hostile territory.
Jimi Manuwa (11-0) has long been on the UFC’s radar, even being offered a spot on UFC 138, but turning it down because of the fact that he was in the midst of a long layoff. Looking at his record, it’s easy to see how the "Poster Boy" caught its eye. Manuwa has finished every single one of his 11 foes inside two rounds, 10 of them by knockout. He has fought in his native England his entire career, capturing the UCMMA Light Heavyweight championship and defending it five times.
Manuwa, age 32, last fought in BAMMA in December, finishing Antony Rea in five minutes.
Ordinarily I would balk at the idea of picking a pure striker with absolutely no experience against competent wrestlers and feel that I’m picking on a hunch rather than logic, but I like "Poster Boy" here. Yes, he’s fought soft competition and yes, he’s probably completely hosed the second his back touches the mat, but I just can’t help but picture him smashing Kingsbury’s head into the far row before that happens. Kingsbury has just looked so slow and ineffectual in his last two bouts that I doubt he can close the distance without eating some monstrous blows.
Despite Teixiera throwing pretty much the same right-left combo over and over, Kingsbury wound up getting caught practically every time. I expect something similar here, with Manuwa landing something big before "Kingsbu" gets comfortable and pounding him out in short order.
Prediction: Manuwa by first-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Andy Ogle vs. Akira Corassani
A member of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15 cast, Andy Ogle (8-1) was Team Faber’s penultimate pick. Somebody forgot to tell him he was the underdog against Team Cruz’s Mike Rio, however, and he pulled off a surprising upset via rear-naked choke in his first bout in the house proper. There would be no Cinderella story, unfortunately, as he was blasted into oblivion by eventual finalist Al Iaquinta.
The medical suspension from that loss cost him a spot in the Finale, so this will be Ogle’s Octagon debut. All nine of his professional bouts so far have taken place in Great Britain.
Every season of the show has a class clown and Akira Corassani took to the role with relish on TUF 14. The Swede proved himself more than just a sideshow attraction, however, knocking out Brian Pearman to get in the house and defeating Dustin Neace by decision. He looked on his way to making it to the finals, knocking down Dennis Bermudez multiple times, but eventually succumbed to a rear-naked choke (the "Submission of the Season").
Injuries have kept him out of action since -- his last official bout was in Feb. 2011.
I've got to admit, I missed most of TUF 14, plus Ogle’s fights on the live season, so I’m probably not the best source here. What I do know, however, is that one of these men hasn’t had an official fight in nineteen months. In addition, Ogle will be fighting at home and, with the possible exception of John Dodson, the house clown never does well on the big stage.
For all these incredibly scientific and in no way completely-pulled-out-of-my-ass reasons, I am selecting Ogle as the winner of this bout via unanimous decision.
Damn, I’m good.
Prediction: Ogle by unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Tom Watson vs. Brad Tavares
Long considered Britain’s top middleweight, Tom Watson (15-4) has lost just once in his past 12 bouts, knocking out the UFC’s John Maguire and Pride FC legend Murilo Rua in that span. The BAMMA Middleweight champion, "Kong" last fought in March, crushing Welsh bruiser Jack Marshman in just under 10 minutes.
Watson has seven knockout victories to his credit over his six-year career.
Though he succumbed to Court McGee’s crushing pace in their bout in TUF house, Brad Tavares (8-1) has enjoyed success in the Octagon, going 3-1 overall with wins over castmate Seth Baczynski and Korean "Ox" Dongi Yang. The Hawaiian-born wrestler, 24, has finished six foes, four by knockout, including longtime UFC veteran Phil Baroni. His sole loss came at the hands of Aaron Simpson in a close bout that saw his wrestling break even with that of the Arizona State University (ASU) standout.
In stark contrast to my earlier pick of Manuwa over Kingsbury, I like Tavares in this one. Despite "Kong’s" homefield advantage and solid hands, Tavares just strikes me as a bad style match up. Kicks are a huge part of Watson’s arsenal -- both high and low -- and the threat of a takedown should nullify them. Plus, while he’s got decent power, he’s not the sort of one-punch threat that Manuwa is, shooting down the idea of him just pasting Tavares early before the latter takes advantage of his subpar takedown defense.
As fond as I am of strikers, I just don’t see Watson winning this one. Expect him to open up with kicks early, only to find himself on his back. Even if he starts focusing on just his hands, he doesn’t have the ground chops to get up or stop Tavares from his back. Fifteen unpleasant minutes of grinding defeat for the hometown hero.
Prediction: Tavares by unanimous decision
Nothing quite like free fights after a long week in the rat race.
See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC on FUEL TV 5: "Miocic vs. Struve," beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 1:30 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the afternoon this upcoming Saturday.