UFC on Fuel 6: Ranking Every Fighter on the Card
Hey. Hey, wake up. It's time for UFC on Fuel 6, airing live from Macau, China! I set my alarm!
Said no one. But whether you're snoozing or not, come Saturday morning, the UFC will broadcast live from China for the first time in its history. Headlining the action are middleweights Rich Franklin and Cung Le, sporting a combined age of 78.
I know. Sorry.
But, as with any UFC card, there are lots of good fights and lots of good fighters. You just have to know where to look. In that spirit, here's a ranking of every fighter on the card. Now you'll know which guys to watch with two eyes, which ones to skim and which ones to skip entirely.
20. Motonobu Tezuka
He doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. That should tell you all you need to know about this late replacement stepping in against Alex Caceres.
UFC: Is he a bantamweight?
UFC: Is he from Asia?
UFC: Can he pay his own way to Macau?
Agent: He will hitchhike, yes.
UFC: Stand by for contract transmission.
19. Tom DeBlass
I don't understand how a guy named Tom DeBlass is allowed to compete in the UFC. Shouldn't he be off designing moderately priced mens' slacks? Understand your boundaries, Tom. You don't even look like you want to be here! That's the most lackluster elbow-strike pose I've ever seen.
18. Jeff Hougland
Jeff Hougland's a submission specialist and an MMA journeyman of the highest order. Now competing in his third different weight class, he will, as always, try to initiate a ground war with his opponent, in this case Takeya Mizugaki.
17. David Mitchell
When last we saw David Mitchell, Paulo Thiago was whooping up upon him at UFC 134 in Rio.
Say this much for Mitchell: he may be a loser in the UFC (0-2 thus far), but he loses internationally. Plus he looks like Ben Affleck, so that's two big check marks.
16. Riki Fukuda
Riki Fukuda hasn't shown much since entering the UFC in 2011. A win over the immortal Steve Cantwell is the lone thread on which his Octagon career hangs. He'll need to show something Saturday against DeBlass.
15. Tiequan Zhang
The UFC's first and only Chinese fighter has been dismal thus far in the Octagon. But given that this is a big foray into new demographic territory or what not, the UFC doesn't have any other option but to put him on the main card. Do you see any other option? Because I don't see any other option.
A submissions specialist, Zhang will try to even his UFC mark at 2-2 with a win over Guam's Jon Tuck.
14. Alex Caceres
I'm not a Bruce Leeroy hater, but you can't deny that the 24-year-old has been dominated by every top guy he's faced, from Michael Johnson to Edwin Figueroa. He might beat Tezuka, he might not, but either way, the 24-year-old is, at this point, far from elite.
13. Yasuhiro Urushitani
Everyone sort of wrote off Yasuhiro Urushitani after his loss to Joseph Benavidez. That wasn't fair. Well, maybe a little it was.
He'll have a tough time with the bigger and harder-hitting John Lineker, just as he did with the bigger and harder-hitting Benavidez.
12. John Lineker
Lineker (pictured on the left) lost a close one and a good one when Louis Gaudinot upset him back in May. I don't see the Brazilian brawler letting it happen again.
11. Jon Tuck
The UFC certainly didn't do Zhang any matchup favors for his first hometown UFC fight. Sure, Guam native Tuck is as green as the grass grows when it comes to the UFC, but he's still a world-class grappler with an undefeated MMA record, decorated by six first-round stoppages and a knockout ONE FC standout Eduard Folayang.
10. Hyun Gyu Lim
The UFC appeared to cherry-pick Pacific Extreme Combat's welterweight belt holder to flesh out the locally appealing portion of this event roster. He makes his UFC debut in Macau against David Mitchell riding a five-fight win streak. He's pretty well-rounded, but loves to knock dudes out. He's got a ton of aggression and a ton of energy. Here's a video from 2011 of Lim getting a TKO on Ross Ebanez.
I'm really interested to see how he does in the big-dog promotion.
9. Takanori Gomi
Record: 33-8 (1)
The hard-hitting Japanese legend will surely be ready, just as he was ready for his last fight, a TKO win at UFC 144 in Saitama Super Arena. Is the UFC just going to trot out the 34-year-old for every fight that makes marketing sense? Hey, at this stage of his career, it's what I'd do.
8. Takeya Mizugaki
It's hard not to like the hard-fighting, if inconsistent, Takeya Mizugaki. Interesting fact: he's alternated a win and a loss in his last nine fights. If that trend holds—and there's absolutely no reason under the sun to think it won't—he'll defeat Jeff Hougland Saturday.
7. Mac Danzig
Mac Danzig is solidly in the middle of the lightweight road. But the veteran's not an easy out for anyone, and that definitely includes his Saturday opponent, Gomi, who has a clear career-wide advantage but may be on the downside of his career.
6. Paulo Thiago
Paulo Thiago, a jiu-jitsu ace, has dropped three of four. He's a good fighter, but can't seem to string anything together. I don't think he'll come out victorious against Dong Hyun Kim.
5. Cung Le
He's 40. He's flashy. He acts in movies. He kicks a lot. His foot is hurt. But he's fighting another old-and-hurty type in Rich Franklin. We'll see how it goes. At a minimum, there's no way this one isn't fun to watch.
4. Stanislav Nedkov
Division: Light heavyweight
Stanislav Nedkov is a scary dude, with his submissions, his knockouts and his ground and pound. He's new to the UFC (just 1-0 thus far), but has non-UFC wins over names like Kevin Randleman and Travis Wiuff.
That said, he's never faced anyone like Thiago Silva. And Silva's going to be at his very rabidest this weekend. If Nedkov can beat him, we've got a fast-track on our hands.
3. Dong Hyun Kim
Record: 15-2-1 (1)
Kim is surely eager to put his last fight behind him, a July tilt with Demian Maia that ended with a freak Kim rib injury. It was a tough defeat for the South Korean, who had only one other loss on his record, and that one was to Carlos Condit.
Kim's a grappler, but he can hit you, too. All I'm saying is, Thiago better watch out.
2. Rich Franklin
Record: 29-6 (1)
Franklin's best days are behind him, but these days for Franklin are still better than a lot of other guys' best days.
Interesting that his last two fights have been main events that fans received tepidly, and that pitted "Ace" against another big-name but aging fighter. At UFC 147, it was Wanderlei Silva. Franklin won by decision. Here, it's Le. Is this a simply novelty tour, or is Franklin really putting something together? If it's the latter, he'll obviously need to defeat the dynamic but limping Le.
1. Thiago Silva
Division: Light heavyweight
Record: 14-3 (1)
After losing in his first match back following a one-year suspension, Silva is hungry for a win. If I'm a Silva opponent, I don't want to see him when he's hungry.
In the card's only light heavyweight bout, though, Silva does not get an easy test in undefeated Bulgarian Nedkov. But he'll be in full-on pit-bull-after-being-poked-with-sticks-for-a-few-months mode for this one. I don't think a firearm could stop him from getting this win in Macau.