The UFC will have a new heavyweight contender following this Saturday's UFC on Fuel TV 5 main event between Stipe Miocic and Stefan Struve. Both Miocic and Struve have won three straight UFC fights and are prepared to test themselves against the heavyweight division's best.
Additionally, UFC on Fuel TV 5 will mark the first time the UFC has visited England in all of 2012. Accordingly, the fight card will be packed with British fighters hoping to do the audience proud.
Dan Hardy will attempt to continue his re-emergence against Amir Sadollah, and Brad Pickett will try to cement himself in the bantamweight division's Top 10 with a win over Yves Jabouin.
Paul Sass looks to take a step closer to becoming a lightweight contender in a matchup with Matt Wiman, and John Hathaway will fight for the crowd's support in a bout with fellow Englishman John Maguire.
With the weekend's Strikeforce event now cancelled due to a Gilbert Melendez injury, UFC on Fuel TV 5 is clearly the event to watch. So, here's all the information a fan could need on Saturday's main-card bouts.
The 29-year-old Che Mills enters this fight on the heels of a loss to Rory MacDonald. That loss ended a five-fight winning streak for the Englishman. Mills scored a knockout against Chris Cope when he made his UFC debut in his home country, so he'll be hoping for similar results against Duane Ludwig in Nottingham, England.
Though he owns a six-inch reach advantage in this matchup, Mills will likely try to bully Ludwig in the clinch and try to land a knee similar to the one he blasted Cope with in November 2011. Half of Mills' 14 career wins have come via knockout, and several of those knockouts have been the result of his clinch work.
If you're looking to clinch, Ludwig may not be the best opponent to do it against, as the 34-year-old veteran is a former muay thai champion. That said, Ludwig's striking did not look up to par in his most recent fight with Dan Hardy, which ended in a first-round knockout loss.
After an excellent 10-2 start to his MMA career, Ludwig has won only half of his past 22 fights and seems to have hit a wall when it comes to competing against top competition. Ludwig has the technique to beat Mills in a three-round fight, but he may no longer have the chin to last that long.
Mills defeats Ludwig by knockout in the first round.
One of the premier submission specialists in the lightweight division, Paul Sass has forced his first three UFC opponents to tap. In 13 career wins, the 24-year-old Sass has already scored 12 submission victories. Among others, Jacob Volkmann and Michael Johnson have fallen victim to the brown belt's tricky guard.
If Sass can score a submission win over Matt Wiman in front of his fellow countrymen, the undefeated British fighter should find himself competing against a 155-pound contender in early 2012.
Should Sass submit Wiman on Saturday, he will become the first fighter ever to do so. Wiman has six career losses, but he has never been forced to tap at any point during his eight years as a professional fighter.
With wins in four of his past five fights, Wiman is working hard to break into lightweight division's Top 10, but a July 2011 loss to Dennis Siver resulted in a setback for the 29-year-old.
By using his wrestling in reverse to avoid going to the ground with Sass, Wiman could put himself back on track toward competing against highly-ranked lightweights instead of testing promising up-and-comers.
Wiman defeats Sass by decision.
In many ways, Brad Pickett is one of the most underrated fighters in the 135-pound division. In his past 13 fights, Pickett has only lost against Renan Barao and Scott Jorgensen. Pickett is also the only fighter besides Dominick Cruz to hold a win over new flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
Still, some don't even consider Pickett a Top 10 bantamweight.
The 34-year-old Englishman will have a chance to silence some of his doubters on Saturday when he competes in his home country against the fast-rising Yves Jabouin. With a win over Jabouin, Pickett would be deserving of another chance to fight an elite 135-pound fighter.
Since dropping to the bantamweight division after being submitted by Pablo Garza in his UFC debut, Jabouin has won three straight fights. However, two of those wins came via split decision against fighters who have been released or are in danger of being released in the near future.
Jabouin won more decisively in his most recent outing against Jeff Hougland, but Hougland has not proven himself inside the Octagon nearly as much as Pickett has. This is a tough matchup for Jabouin, who may be taking too big of a step up in competition too soon.
Pickett defeats Jabouin by submission in the second round.
With 16 wins in 17 career fights, 25-year-old John Hathaway is an inevitable contender in the welterweight division. However, he's still trying to build himself back up after a loss to Mike Pyle and long layoff due to injury. Having beaten fighters like Diego Sanchez and Rick Story, it's only a matter of time until Hathaway returns to the standing he once held in the 170-pound division prior to his only loss.
Hathaway hasn't won in his home country since November 2009. As he did when he last had his hand raised on English soil, Hathaway will compete against a fellow British fighter in John Maguire.
Like Hathaway, Maguire is a somewhat rare, grapple-first Englishman. The 29-year-old has picked up 10 of his 18 career wins by submission, and he's currently riding a seven-fight winning streak heading into his most important fight to date.
This is Maguire's first big step up in competition since joining the UFC, though. With the added pressure of competing in front of his family and friends in England, it wouldn't come as a shock to see the jiu-jitsu brown belt suffer his first setback.
Hathaway defeats Maguire by decision.
In his most recent fight, Dan Hardy saved his UFC roster spot by ending a four-fight losing streak with a knockout of Duane Ludwig. Now, a questionable bit of matchmaking has left Hardy preparing for a bout against the fighter Ludwig last defeated, Amir Sadollah.
Aside from his knockout loss to Carlos Condit, almost all of Hardy's losses have come when his opponents have forced him to fight off of his back. If Hardy can avoid going to the ground with Sadollah, he'll have a great chance to score a second straight stoppage win.
Though he's coming off of a win, Amir Sadollah has barely looked like a UFC-level fighter in his past two trips to the Octagon. The Ultimate Fighter winner has not lived up to expectations during his time with the world's premier MMA organization, failing to win more than two straight fights at any point during his career.
Sadollah has capable striking technique, but his best performances have come on the ground. Should he be unsuccessful in trying to take Hardy down, Sadollah may suffer yet another setback on Saturday.
Hardy defeats Sadollah by technical knockout in the first round.
It would seem logical that Stefan Struve's insane reach would make him almost untouchable on his feet. However, that has been far from the case when the Dutch giant has faced off against some of the better punchers in the heavyweight division.
Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson and Travis Browne all scored first-round knockouts against Struve, who has won three straight and is banking on a win over Stipe Miocic to get another chance at competing against that type of competition.
A heavy hitter, Miocic has scored knockouts in two of his first three UFC appearances. The undefeated 30-year-old also possesses the wrestling to avoid Struve's dangerous guard.
Expect Miocic to keep this fight standing. Once he finds a way to work inside the long reach of Struve, Miocic has the power to put his opponent away with a single punch. This is Miocic's first chance to earn a big step up in competition and compete against a heavyweight contender, and he won't waste it.
Miocic defeats Struve by knockout in the first round.