A Croatian baseball star and a Dutch skyscraper walk into a pub ...
This Saturday (Sept. 29, 2012), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will once again make its way to jolly ole' England, taking the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham by storm for its fifth venture to FUEL TV.
Headlining the mixed martial arts (MMA) event are two of the organization's more promising young heavyweights, knockout artist Stipe Miocic and 6'11" bruiser Stefan Struve. Former welterweight title contender Dan Hardy will be in action against Amir Sadollah as part of a whole host of British talent on display, as well as native sons John Hathaway and Brad Pickett.
But, before all that, we've got a solid set of five Facebook "Prelims" under card bouts to whet our caged combat appetites.
Check out part one of our UFC on FUEL TV 5 "Prelims" breakdown, featuring the first two bouts of the fight card:
175 lbs.: DaMarques Johnson vs. Gunnar Nelson
After German "Panzer" Pascal Krauss was bitten by the injury bug again, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 11 veteran Rich Attonito was tabbed to replace him. Concerns about his ability to make weight on short notice, however, prompted "The Raging Bull" to pull out, too, leaving DaMarques Johnson (15-11) to take the reins in a catchweight affair. While Johnson -- who fought for Team USA on TUF 9 -- has established himself as one of the most exciting fighters in the division, never once going the distance in the UFC, he is also 2-4 in his last six.
The goodwill brought about by his entertaining style and willingness to step up notwithstanding, "Darkness" could very well need a win this Saturday to stay employed.
A Karate and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Gunnar Nelson (9-0-1) has long been considered one of Europe’s premier prospects, possessing one of the nastier ground games you’re likely to find at 170. In 2009, Nelson took fourth place in the Absolute division at the ADCC championships, submitting the enormous Jeff Monson during that run. Though he took a two-year hiatus from the sport to focus on grappling, Nelson returned this past march with an armbar victory in Dublin, Ireland. Only one opponent since his debut has seen the second round.
As a huge fan of Gunnar, I was somewhat concerned about his chances against Attonito; as amazing as Nelson is on the mat, I’m not convinced he’s got the wrestling chops to take someone like Rich down and, while his karate is solid, I don’t know how it will stand up to higher-level competition.
Against Johnson? No such problems.
Johnson is entertaining and hits hard, but he’s taking this fight on two weeks’ notice and doesn’t have the takedown defense to stay off his back against the Icelandic submission machine. If he can sucker Gunnar into a brawl, he might have a chance, but Nelson doesn’t strike me as the type to abandon his best weapon for the sake of bravado.
Inexperienced though he may be, Gunnar is on a completely different level than Johnson on the mat and he’ll prove it early in the first when he takes him down, gets the back, and announces his arrival into the division with a picture-perfect RNC.
Prediction: Nelson by first-round submission
145 lbs.: Jason Young vs. Robert Peralta
Few gave late replacement Jason Young (9-5) much of a chance in his late-notice UFC 131 bout with Dustin Poirier, the latter having easily polished off then-number-one-contender Josh Grispi at UFC 125. Impressively, "Shotgun" gave Poirier everything he could handle, tearing up his lead leg with brutal kicks, but found himself on his back too often and dropped a split decision. His lacking ground skills cost him again against Michihiro Omigawa, but he bounced back to outgrapple Eric Wisely for a unanimous decision victory in Stockholm.
Robert Peralta (15-3), one of the Featherweight division’s nastiest punchers, caught the UFC’s eye with a seven-fight win streak that included an impressive upset of DREAM featherweight champion Hiroyuki Takaya on the undercard of Strikeforce: "Diaz vs. Daley." He went on to beat Mike Lullo in his Octagon debut and was in the midst of an entertaining slugfest with Mackens Semerzier when a clash of heads sent "Mack da Menace" to the canvas.
Peralta was initially awarded the technical knockout victory, but it was overturned by the commission and called a "No Contest." Injuries have kept him sidelined since that bout, which took place last November.
Let me preface this by saying that Peralta winning this fight would be to my benefit -- the better "Problems" looks in the UFC, the less awful Takaya’s loss to him looks, thus legitimizing one of my favorite fighters.
That said, I like Young here.
As hard as Peralta hits, he’s damn sloppy. And while Young doesn’t have much stopping power, he’s a fine striker with enough of a takedown game to -- if not take Peralta down -- then at least keep him on his toes. Further, he’s fighting at home against a recently-injured opponent who hasn’t fought in more than 10 months.
While there’s always a chance that Young eats one of Peralta’s bombs and goes the way of the East India Company, it’s more likely that he picks the relatively flat-footed Peralta apart with heavy low kicks and clean punches for a clear decision win.
Prediction: Young by unanimous decision
Stop by again tomorrow for breakdowns of the remaining three bouts on tap for the UFC on FUEL TV 5 "Prelims."
See you then.
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.