UFC on Fuel 7 Results: Questions Answered and Lessons Learned
UFC on Fuel 7 marked the return of the world's largest MMA promotion to England. It showcased wily veterans, up-and-coming prospects and a diverse array of fighters from the UK, other European nations and elsewhere.
The main event saw the interim bantamweight title on the line, as Renan Barao met Michael McDonald. Others such as Cub Swanson, James Te Huna and Dustin Poirier also padded the card in what promised to be an amazing day of fights.
What did we learn? What questions were answered?
Let's find out now in the aftermath of UFC on Fuel 7 in the United Kingdom.
Ulysses Gomez May Be Overrated
Ulysses Gomez came into the UFC with a lot of hype behind him, but he has failed to deliver a win in two Octagon outings.
Gomez dropped a close unanimous decision to Britain's Phil Harris in a fight that could have gone either way. In fact, had Gomez won, I wouldn't have been surprised.
He was competitive in the fight, using nice leg kicks to keep Harris at a distance, but he couldn't consistently get the takedown. His ground game is his bread and butter, but he has not been able to showcase that yet in the UFC.
However, the American did not win the fight and now finds himself in the hole after two fights in the UFC. Perhaps the media have overrated "Useless" just a tad.
Tom Watson Is Tough as Nails
Tom Watson looked like he might not make it out of the first round against Stanislav Nedkov. The closing of the round saw Nedkov punish the popular Brit on the ground.
Then Watson's heart came into play.
Watson survived the exciting first round and came back in the second looking to hand out some hurt to the Bulgarian. He did just that, smoking the tired Nedkov with nasty knees from the clinch.
He dropped Nedkov with a beautiful knee to the body and earned a referee stoppage with follow-up strikes.
The fight showed how dangerous and tough Watson is. His chin held up under duress, and he stayed in the fight even when things looked bleak.
Josh Grispi Has Lived Up to His Nickname
Josh "The Fluke" Grispi has been just that—a fluke.
Not long ago, Grispi was the top contender to Jose Aldo, but he never got the championship fight. Instead, he has lost four fights in a row against a number of midcard fighters in the UFC.
At UFC on Fuel 7, Grispi dropped a unanimous decision to TUF alum Andy Ogle in a lackluster affair. Ogle is at the bottom of the ladder at 145 pounds, and Grispi struggled to compete with him in England.
Grispi will likely be in the unemployment line after this loss.
Paul Sass Is Exciting, Not Elite
Paul Sass has wowed fans with his amazing ground game and fun fights in the UFC. However, Sass has dropped two straight fights, both of which came on home soil.
Sass was outmuscled on the ground when he fought Danny Castillo at UFC on Fuel 7, though he did stay active with submission attempts. He took some big ground-and-pound punishment from the American, which ultimately earned Castillo the unanimous nod from the judges.
Castillo continues to be one of the most underrated lightweights in the world, while Sass has proved to be more exciting than elite. Sass is in dire need of a win now that he is 0-2 in his last two outings.
When Matt Riddle Doesn't Wrecklessly Brawl, He Is a Tough Opponent
Matt Riddle has a reputation for brawling instead of sticking to a game plan that includes wrestling and top control.
When Riddle stays away from exciting, wild brawls, he is a tough out for anybody at 170 pounds. His ground game is refined, and he has the pressure and cardio to maintain a frenetic pace for 15 minutes.
His win over Che Mills continued his recent dominance. We will see if he can climb even higher up the welterweight ladder.
James Te Huna Is a Warrior Who Deserves Crack at a Top Light Heavyweight
James Te Huna almost checked out of his fight with Ryan Jimmo in the first round when he ate a perfectly timed head kick. Luckily, he gathered his senses and survived.
Te Huna continued the fight and ended up winning the second and third rounds in convincing fashion. In a display rarely seen out of Te Huna, he ditched his striking in favor of a wrestling-based attack to stifle Jimmo.
Not only was his switch in game plan impressive on the fly, but Te Huna proved he is a warrior. He ate a knockout blow yet stayed in the fight, a feat many would not be able to replicate.
Moving forward, Te Huna should get a top guy in the division to prove if he is for real. Maybe not a Top-Five guy but definitely a Top-10 fighter.
Gunnar Nelson Is for Real...if He Keeps His Hands Up
Gunnar Nelson continued to impress UFC fans, defeating Jorge Santiago in an interesting main-card affair. Nelson used superior grappling and solid striking to outpoint the former Sengoku champion.
Nelson looked great again but had one glaring hole: He kept his hands too low.
Any power striker in the welterweight division would lick his chops if he saw Nelson across the cage with his hands so low. He is practically inviting his opponent to knock his head off.
Anyway, Nelson earned a marquee win over Santiago and proved any doubters wrong.
Jimi Manuwa Can Do More Than Just Strike
Jimi Manuwa's encounter with Cyrille Diabate on home soil was touted as a potential barn burner due to their superior striking abilities. A disappointing ending to the fight—an injury to Diabate—cannot overshadow the fact that we know now Manuwa is more than just a striker.
Manuwa used several takedowns on the Frenchman, surprising a majority of people who witnessed the fight. In fact, the last takedown of the first round likely caused Diabate's injury.
Either way, we saw a complete mixed martial artist in Manuwa. That may make him even more dangerous than he already is.
Cub Swanson Is Ready for a Rematch with Aldo or Lamas
Cub Swanson looked like an elite among elites in his win in the co-main event against Dustin Poirier, earning a clear-cut unanimous decision. He has put it all together in his UFC tenure, reversing a disappointing run during his time with the WEC.
Swanson showed his all-around game against Poirier, using great body shots, brutal head shots and a good ground game to earn his victory. Doing that against a guy like Poirier is an impressive feat.
His current win streak has been astounding against some of the featherweight division's top guys. Perhaps a date with Jose Also in the near future is in the cards. Or he can get a rematch with another guy who beat him in the past, Ricardo Lamas.
Renan Barao Is the Biggest Threat in Dominick Cruz's Career
Renan Barao finished Michael McDonald in the fourth round with an arm-triangle choke in what was a very solid performance for the young Brazilian.
The interim champ has proved to be the best man in the bantamweight division. He will get a chance to back that up when Dominick Cruz eventually returns.
Barao's kicks and ground game make him the biggest threat to Cruz's title. He may even be the biggest challenge Cruz has ever faced.