Stefan Struve has already had many ups and downs in his MMA career at 24 years old, but a win over Stipe Miocic at UFC on Fuel TV 5 has given the towering Dutchman a four-fight winning streak, the longest of his UFC career.
With a big win in a main event, Struve is almost guaranteed a matchup with a heavyweight contender. Struve has shown holes in his striking defense when given opportunities to compete against top heavyweights in the past, but he showed improvement in that area against Miocic.
After being forced to stand with Junior dos Santos and Roy Nelson, it would be interesting to see how Struve handles a different kind of test with his pending step up in competition. Let's take a look at who could be next for "Skyscraper" and the rest of the UFC on Fuel TV 5 competitors.
Though Jason Young fared well in early exchanges with Robbie Peralta, it only took one clean shot for Peralta to turn the lights out on the British fighter's homecoming bout.
With his knockout loss to Peralta, the once-promising Young has now lost three of his past four fights. The Englishman will have to turn things around quickly or face the possibility of being released from the UFC roster.
A bout between Young and 27-year-old Daniel Pineda, who is also coming off of a knockout loss, would ensure a rebound by one featherweight prospect.
Robbie Peralta remained undefeated in the UFC with his knockout of Jason Young on Saturday night. The 26-year-old could refine his technique some, but he's shown he has the physical tools to have a long stay with the world's top MMA organization.
Like Peralta, Marcus Brimage remains unbeaten in official UFC fights.
Since Peralta and Brimage both throw powerful looping punches, a matchup between the two fighters could prove quite entertaining. It would also set the winner up for a big step up in competition.
Gunnar Nelson was impressive in his UFC debut, submitting an overweight DaMarques Johnson in the first round. The fight may result in Johnson's release from the UFC, but it will surely lead to a step up in competition for Nelson.
Having submitted seven of his 11 opponents, it would be interesting to see Nelson take on a fellow jiu-jitsu black belt who has never been submitted. The UFC should put Nelson on a fast track to the top of the welterweight division by giving him a shot at veteran Dan Miller.
Tom Watson came up short on the scorecards in his first Octagon appearance against Brad Tavares, but the Englishman had some good moments that hinted he might still have a future in the UFC's middleweight division.
Like Watson, Caio Magalhaes is coming off of a loss in his UFC debut. The UFC should give one of these 185-pound fighters a chance to pick up their first win inside the Octagon by matching them up against one another.
With his win over Tom Watson, Brad Tavares has now won two in a row since suffering the only official loss of his MMA career against Aaron Simpson. That said, Tavares could use one more fight before testing himself against the next level of UFC middleweights.
Fights between The Ultimate Fighter alumni are always fun, and C.B. Dollaway is also coming off of an important win over Jason "Mayhem" Miller, so let's match Tavares up against "The Doberman" to see how the former's wrestling has improved since his fight with Simpson.
The UFC on Fuel TV 5 bout between Akira Corassani and Andy Ogle was essentially the season finale fight that the two The Ultimate Fighter participants never received due to injuries.
Thus, Alex Ogle's loss will likely result in his release from the UFC's featherweight division, though he did get a chance to compete inside the Octagon in his home country on Saturday.
For Corassani, the split decision win over Ogle will earn him another chance to put his skills on display inside the Octagon. That chance could come against another The Ultimate Fighter alumni in the winner of a UFC 153 bout between Rony Mariano Bezerra and Sam Sicilia.
In most cases, a fighter like Kyle Kingsbury losing three straight fights would mean the end of his run with the UFC. However, UFC president Dana White seemed so pleased with the heart Kingsbury showed in a loss to Jimi Manuwa that it wouldn't be surprising to see the American Kickboxing Academy product get one more shot to keep his job with the organization.
Kingsbury and Igor Pokrajac, who is also coming off of a second-round loss to a UFC newcomer, like to battle in the clinch. So, a bout between the two light heavyweights could turn into an exciting hockey-type fight.
Immediately after his win over Igor Pokrajac, I proposed a potential grappling match between Vinny Magalhaes and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. However, after watching Jimi Manuwa beat Kyle Kingbury to a pulp on his feet, I have decided Manuwa is a much more intriguing fight for Magalhaes.
Manuwa and Magalhaes are polar opposites, so a bout between the two will make for a good test for both men.
Against Kingsbury, Manuwa's takedown defense was shoddy, and that's something he can't have against a jiu-jitsu world champion in Magalhaes. Similary, Magalhaes has had problems with his striking defense in the past, which is a hole in his game that will need to be filled against the heavy-hitting Manuwa.
With his victory over John Maguire, John Hathaway has won three straight fights since the only loss of his career against Mike Pyle. However, the UFC brass was not convinced by Hathaway's mostly uneventful decision win, so he may need to win another fight before being given another step up in competition.
Also on Saturday, a Duane Ludwig knee injury allowed Che Mills to avoid a second straight loss. With three straight defeats and fight-ending injuries in two of his past six fights, 34-year-old Duane Ludwig may be facing a release from his UFC contract.
Both Englishman are looking to get another shot at competing against elite welterweights, so the UFC should consider matching Hathaway against Mills for an opportunity to earn a step up in competition.
After going undefeated in his first 13 fights, Paul Sass was considered one of the brightest prospects in the lightweight division. However, at UFC on Fuel TV 5, Sass was beaten at his own game. Despite getting the fight to the ground, where he secured 12 submissions, Sass got caught in a Matt Wiman armbar and was forced to tap.
Now, Sass will likely have to meet an opponent who is also coming off of a loss. A bout with jiu-jitsu black belt Evan Dunham, who Sass was scheduled to fight prior to his most recent win over Jacob Volkmann, would provide another test for the Englishman on the ground.
Matt Wiman has had trouble putting the winning streak together that would make him a true lightweight contender. However, Wiman is a tough, grinding fighter capable of causing problems for any 155-pound fighter in the world.
On Saturday, Wiman slowed the rise of submission specialist Paul Sass by beating the British fighter in his strongest area.
With the Submission of the Night honors he received at UFC on Fuel TV 5, Wiman has now won five performance bonuses. A meeting with a fellow tough guy like T.J. Grant, who is coming off of an entertaining win over Evan Dunham, would almost certainly result in a Fight of the Night candidacy.
Yves Jabouin was undefeated in his first three bantamweight bouts, which earned him a well-deserved step up in competition. However, Brad Pickett wasn't about to become a stepping stone in Jabouin's rise to the top of the 135-pound division, as the Englishman scored a brutal knockout on Saturday.
Now, Jabouin will have to take a step back down in competition, possibly for a fight with Roland Delorme, who also recently had a winning streak end in a knockout loss.
Brad Pickett may have some work to do before he can earn a title shot, but his knockout win over Yves Jabouin at UFC on Fuel TV 5 showed the British bantamweight remains one of the top fighters in his division.
Like Pickett, Wineland still needs to put a number of wins together before he can find himself in a championship fight, despite coming off of a knockout win over Scott Jorgensen.
There aren't many 135-pounders who can match the punching power of Pickett and Wineland, so let's match the heavy hitters against one another and see who has the better chin.
Though they both managed to go the distance in their respective fights against Dan Hardy and John Hathaway, Amir Sadollah and John Maguire were out-classed for the most part at UFC on Fuel TV 5.
The welterweights are both skilled grapplers, so it would be interesting to see how Sadollah and Maguire would handle a fight against each other in which their strengths would likely cancel out. This matchup would also give one of the 170-pound fighters a chance to avoid another loss and get back on a winning track.
In his home town of Nottingham, England, Dan Hardy revealed a new wrinkle to his game in the form of multiple takedowns. The British welterweight also fared well on his feet against Amir Sadollah, but it was his wrestling that provides promise for the future.
At the moment, there aren't too many big-name fighters available for Hardy to compete against at 170 pounds. The Englishman continues to call out Matt Hughes, but that isn't a matchup that would make a ton of sense for what would likely be the former champion's farewell fight.
Instead, the UFC should put Hardy in the cage with an opponent who has knockout power and let him stand and bang. A bout between Hardy and Seth Baczynski, who recently knocked out Simeon Thoreson, could prove entertaining.
Stipe Miocic came into his fight with Stefan Struve prepared to stand and look for the knockout. Despite a strong wrestling background, Miocic did not want to go to the ground with Struve, who has caught many an opponent in triangle chokes with his long legs.
Struve's long limbs were equally dangerous when standing, however. Miocic did land some solid punches, but Struve got the better of his undefeated opponent in the end.
Despite the loss, Miocic remains a bright prospect in a heavyweight division that is in search of fresh new contenders. There's a good chance Miocic will get a chance to bounce right back against the loser of the UFC on FX 5 main event between Travis Browne and Antonio Silva.
It wasn't a flawless performance, but Stefan Struve utilized his reach much more effectively against Stipe Miocic than he has against heavy punchers in the past. After a slow start, Struve got his jab working in the second round and ended up stopping Miocic with uppercuts.
With four straight wins, the 24-year-old Struve may finally be reaching his full potential. A bout with the winner of this Saturday's fight between Travis Browne and Antonio Browne seems like a logical step forward for Struve, as he looks to climb the heavyweight ranks and earn a rematch with Junior dos Santos.