UFC on FUEL TV 5: Struve vs. Miocic is in the books and after 10-months away from the country, the Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to England with a thrilling night of mixed martial arts action.
Che Mills, John Hathaway, Matt Wiman, Brad Pickett and of course, Stefan Struve were the big winners last night in Nottingham as each man picked up significant victories on the main card.
After every fight card, fans wonder who the winners will be matched up with next. With another night of UFC action in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look forward and put ourselves in Joe Silva’s shoes to play UFC matchmaker.
Winner: Che Mills
Who He Should Fight Next: Kyle Noke
Why They Should Fight: In consecutive weeks, Che Mills and Kyle Noke picked up TKO wins in the UFC and looked extremely impressive doing so. Mills defeated Duane Ludwig at UFC on FUEL TV 5 while Noke scored a quick first-round TKO of Charlie Brenneman at UFC 152. Mills and Noke both enjoy exchanged punches and have proved to be capable fighters on the ground as well. On top of that, they share one-fight win streaks and are rather large for their weight class, especially Noke who fought at middleweight prior to his win over Brenneman.
If the fighters are injury-free and could turn around in time, this would be a good fight to add to the December 14th “TUF: Smashes” finale in Australia due to the trend of the card being fighters from the United Kingdom against fighters from Australia.
Winner: John Hathaway
Who He Should Fight Next: Siyar Bahadurzada
Why They Should Fight: While normal logic points to avoiding match ups between two talented up and comers, a fight between Siyar Bahadurzada vs. John Hathaway is logical and would really test both athletes.
Hathaway is one of the biggest welterweights on the UFC roster and possesses solid offense skills along with sound defense. “The Hitman” has yet to face a true power puncher inside the octagon and Bahadurzada is a striking specialist who made a splash in the UFC with a 42-second knockout of Paulo Thiago last April. The first Afghan-born fighter in UFC history is known to blow through his opposition with relative ease due to his incredible knockout power.
Hathaway has fought to a decision in seven consecutive fights and after his lackluster bout with John Maguire, he needs to face an opponent that will push the pace and look to inflict damage – Bahadurzada is that man.
One man would suffer a temporary setback in their career while the winner would prove ready upper echelon of the welterweight division. The match up between Bahadurzada and Hathaway would be no pushover for either fighter, and it would be fascinating to see if “The Great” could continue his surge up the rankings against the very tough Brit.
Winner: Matt Wiman
Who He Should Fight Next: T.J. Grant
Why They Should Fight: Matt Wiman looked impressive taking out highly-touted prospect Paul Sass at UFC on FUEL TV 5 to win ‘Submission fo the Night’. Wiman bring a non-stop pace to the cage that has helped established him as a tough fight for anyone in the lightweight division. The perfect next fight for Wiman would be against a fighter who also picked up a big win recently in T.J. Grant.
Grant fought earlier this month, upsetting Evan Dunham in the “Fight of the Night” at UFC 152 in Toronto. The Canadian looked very impressive against a well rounder fighter in Dunham, matching him up against a veteran like Wiman would make for a competitive match up with two crowd pleasing 155-pounders.
While both men are currently on the outside of the top-10 looking in, the winner of their fight would be deserving of a big fight that would allow them to enter the ranks of the elite in the lightweight division.
Winner: Brad Pickett
Who He Should Fight Next: Mike Easton
Why They Should Fight: At this point in time, Brad Pickett vs. Mike Easton would be a match up between two of the top contenders in the bantamweight division. Pickett picked up a brutal knockout over Yves Jabouin at UFC on FUEL TV 5 while Easton was victories at Ivan Menjivar at UFC 148 in July.
After the recent wins by Pickett and Easton sit very close to each other in the rankings. Who is higher or lower is up for debate, but a victory by one over the other would only elevate the winners status. The styles of Pickett and Easton mesh well and it would make for an exciting fight with the winner being very close to a title shot at 135-pounds.
Winner: Dan Hardy
Who He Should Fight Next: Matt Riddle
Why They Should Fight: Matt Riddle famously called out Dan Hardy at the UFC 149 post-fight press conference in July and now may have the opportunity to get what he asked for. Riddle made a strong (and entertaining) argument as to why he wants to face “The Outlaw”, but the British fighter was preparing for his bout with Amir Sadollah at UFC on FUEL TV 5 and Riddle’s call out didn’t materialize. After Hardy’s unanimous decision victory over Sadollah, matching him up with Riddle makes sense.
Riddle is one of the grittiest fighters on the UFC roster and is relentless with his striking and grappling attack. Hardy showed off improved wrestling in his win over Sadollah, but “Deep Waters” would truly test how far the grappling of Hardy has come.
Hardy and Riddle are both veteran welterweights that deliver solid fights to the fans every time they perform. They both sit in the mid-tier of the UFC welterweight division and it would be more than suitable bout for a fight card on FUEL TV or FX.
Winner: Stefan Struve
Who He Should Fight Next: Mark Hunt
Why They Should Fight: Stefan Struve and Mark Hunt were slated to compete at UFC 146 earlier this year until Hunt pulled out of the fight just nine days before the event due to injury. Hunt has not competed since sustaining the injury while Struve has gone on to win two fights against Lavar Johnson and Stipe Miocic. There are some people who want to see the match up between Struve and Hunt, this writer is one of them. Fans were very excited for the original match up and after putting in full training camps for each other earlier this year; the two fighters deserve to face off.
On paper, Struve should be able to submit Hunt rather easily, but “The Super-Samoan” is a lot more difficult to take down than perceived and hits like a mack truck. Even though Struve is improving his striking with every fight, this is your classic striker vs. grappler match up.
Hunt had a lot of momentum behind him before getting injury and would look to reestablish it with another big knockout win. Struve, on the other hand, has won four straight fights and has never looked better. The winner would move one step close to a heavyweight title shot.