UFC on Fuel: 10 Things to Watch During Inaugural Event

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIFebruary 13, 2012

UFC on Fuel: 10 Things to Watch During Inaugural Event

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    This Wednesday, the UFC puts another card on the third and final station of the FOX network in their current deal.

    The card isn't as packed as the one on FOX or even FX, but it promises to deliver exciting fights. In the end, that is what makes new fans and what keeps the old ones coming back. However, that isn't the only thing that fans should be on the lookout for, as the card has plenty of interesting questions packed in with the fights and mixed martial artists.

    By the end of the night, these questions will be answered, and the top moments will be known.

Will the UFC Will Be Presented Differently on Fuel Than on FOX?

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    FX is on basic cable and FOX is network TV. Most people don't have Fuel; while that might change in the future, it isn't the case right now.

    That will affect several things, but one of them could be how the UFC is presented. Even though the company controls itself, the way that the network and the UFC choose to market themselves on Fuel will be interesting.

    It also boils down to demographics. The UFC on FOX is something seen by families where a network like Fuel is going to be watched by a lot of young males. That could change the commentary and how fans see the UFC and MMA branded.

Will Anton Kuivanen Be the Start of UFC's European Expansion?

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    Anton Kuivanen fights out of Finland. That nugget of information is worthless on its own, until paired with the knowledge that the UFC will be hosting a show in Sweden on its second Fuel card.

    While the country and the fighter don't match up, Finland is very close to Sweden. If Kuivanen wins, he will probably end up on the undercard. If he doesn't, things will get even more interesting.

    There have been plenty of European fighters in the UFC, but most were already established. This is the first time fans are seeing the UFC put serious energy into finding young European talent and cultivating it.

    If Kiuvanen wins, it could be the start of an international movement.

How Far Jonathan Brookins Has Progressed?

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    Jonathan Brookins is the winner of Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter, though you wouldn't know it from his place on the card.

    He may be on the top of the undercard, and while he still has a spot, it's the undercard. For a fighter to win a season of the UFC's now-famous show and then get relegated to such a spot shows how far Brookins has fallen after his loss to Erik Koch.

    He now faces late replacement Vagner Rocha, and if he wants to get back on track, he is going to need a win. Fans who watch the fights on Facebook will get to see if he has progressed to the point where he is ready for great things.

Will UFC Start Putting Bantamweights on More Main Events?

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    There are two bantamweight fights on the main card, and neither one has a big name like Urijah Faber.

    Smaller weights such as featherweights and bantamweights are overlooked in MMA, though they usually put on better fights then the heavyweights and end up stealing the bonuses. If both matches do the same Wednesday night, it might be an indication that the company is willing to push the small men and not that they are running out of fighters for their cards.

Can Aaron Simpson Make a Serious Impact at Age 37?

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    Aaron Simpson started in MMA late, and now he is 37 and trying to make a run at the title. He could end up being the next Randy Couture, though that is highly unlikely.

    That isn't a slight against Simpson, but there is only one Couture.

    Simpson has won his last three fights in a row, and if he can keep it going, then he could be on his way to serious middleweight contender fights.

    Ronny Markes isn't that kind of fight, but if Simpson wants them, he will still have to get past his unproven opponent. If he doesn't, it's the end of the line for Simpson's serious MMA career.

Does Stefan Struve Has a Future in the UFC?

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    Stefan Struve is a bit quizzical.

    In some fights he is a monster. In other fights he is easily destroyed.

    The skyscraper of a man may be a brilliant grappler, but his striking is suspect and so is his chin. He has a win over Pat Barry, which helps answer some of the rumors and questions surrounding him, but he has a lot more to do if he wants to be a top competitor.

    He is faced with Dave Herman, who already has a UFC win under his belt that scored him a fight of the night bonus as well.

    It is Struve's first step to rebuilding his image and strengthening his case for bigger fights on bigger cards.

Is Dave Herman the Talent That He Has Been Presented As?

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    Dave Herman had a buzz surrounding him long before he debuted in the UFC. These days that is rare, but Herman has fought in EliteXC, Sengoku, Bellator and Shark Fights.

    He hasn't won all of those fights. That is a part of MMA.

    The fact that he has competed in so many serious MMA organizations is what is impressive.

    If he can upset Struve, he will show fans that the hype is more then a little true, and he will move up quickly in the heavyweight division.

What Crazy Antics Will Diego Sanchez Bring to the Octagon?

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    Diego Sanchez is a bit of an oddball.

    He was weird when he competed in The Ultimate Fighter.

    He has been weird in the UFC.

    The man shouts chants of "Yes!" when he walks into the cage.

    He even made the yes cartwheel.

    So should fans be on alert to see what antics he will bring to the cage?


Will Jake Ellenberger Make a Statement?

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    Jake Ellenberger is impressive. He knows how to fight, but he lost a split decision to now-interim champion Carlos Condit.

    He also knocked out Jake Shields in his last fight. It took him one round.

    If he dominates and destroys Diego Sanchez on Wednesday, then he will have snatched up the No. 1 contender spot without a doubt.

    He will have to wait for Carlos Condit to face Georges St-Pierre, but when that fight does happen, Ellenberger should be next.

    Expect Ellenberger to know this and come out trying to imprint his gloves into Sanchez's face when they meet.

What Will a Wednesday Fight Card Pull in Ratings?

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    It all comes down to ratings.

    FOX would never have worked with the UFC if the company didn't get great ratings.

    Sponsors wouldn't fight for space if the company didn't sell its merchandise by making it appealing.

    If Fuel doesn't produce spectacular ratings, then the UFC might not continue to put shows on the network. If they do, they will.

    It could even lead to Fuel TV ending up on a basic cable package for most providers.

    And in the end, on a marketing level, that is what really matters.

    Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report.  He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com that focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.