UFC on Fuel 5 offered the opportunity for some of the UFC's best international prospects to make a statement. Fighters, such as Stefan Struve, did just that.
No one on this card is in line for an immediate title shot (or so you would think), but a win on this type of card can usually set up matches on an even bigger stage that will put the winners on Saturday night's card on a track to contendership.
These are the fighters that made the biggest statement with their victories in England.
Nelson made his highly hyped UFC debut as one of the most exciting European prospects in all of MMA. The Icelandic 24-year-old certainly did not disappoint as he secured a rear-naked choke victory over DaMarques Johnson in a mere three minutes and 34 seconds.
Nelson sports a 10-0 record with seven victories coming by way of submission, so he clearly has submission skills. He also flashed some impressive kicks in the short lived fight, landing a head kick and some leg kicks that set up Nelson's early takedown.
This contest was fought at a catchweight of 183 pounds after Johnson failed to make the previously agreed upon 175 pound catchweight. Nelson's size puts him somewhere between welterweight and middleweight, so it will be interesting to see what class his next bout comes from, but either division has been put on notice that Nelson is a legitimate threat.
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Paul Sass was heavily favored coming into his bout with Matt Wiman, but was unable to live up to that billing as Wiman effectively turned tables on the Englishman for the first time in his career.
Sass was a perfect 13-0 prior to this fight with 12 of those wins coming by submission. Fighting a middling veteran in his home country, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Sass would wrap this one up rather easily with a submission.
However, Wiman had other plans as it was the TUF 5 veteran that earned his fifth submission victory and ruined Sass's undefeated mark.
Wiman's armbar was a thing of beauty—it earned him Submission of the Night honors and let everyone know that he shouldn't be written off quite yet.
Stefan Struve got his first chance to headline a card (albeit a Fuel card), and he didn't disappoint.
Struve's victory over Stipe Miocic shouldn't be taken lightly—Miocic was favored coming into the fight and was riding a three-fight UFC win streak. Miocic is a well-rounded fighter but Struve proved that he is ready to take on the next level of heavyweights with his second round TKO victory.
Struve's chin has been brought into question since his knockout losses to Travis Browne and Roy Nelson, but any questions on his chin should have been silenced tonight as he took plenty of clean shots from Miocic but stayed in the pocket and exchanged with him as well.
With a great display of heart and knockout power, Struve announced he is ready to step up in competition again.
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