Power Ranking Every Fight on the UFC on Fuel 7 Card
UFC on Fuel 7: Barao vs. McDonald is going to be a fun card. The 12-fight card will deliver action from the first fight all the way to the main event.
The main event of the evening features a spectacular bantamweight clash. UFC Interim Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao defends the gold against Michael McDonald. The winner will likely get to welcome champion Dominick Cruz back to the Octagon later this year.
There will be fights in seven different divisions. From flyweights to light heavyweights. Prospects and veterans alike stack this card.
This is how each fight stacks up to one another heading into Saturday's exciting card.
No. 12: Tom Watson vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Tom "Kong" Watson (15-5) made his long-awaited UFC debut at UFC on Fuel: Struve vs. Miocic back in September. He came up on the wrong end of a split decision against Brad Tavares.
Standing opposite him will be Stanislav Nedkov (12-0, 1 NC). Nedkov lost to Thiago Silva at UFC on Fuel: Franklin vs. Le, but the bout was overturned after Silva failed a post-fight drug test.
The middleweights will try to throw leather at one another and see who topples. Watson will surely be the favorite in his home country of England, but that did not work out so great in his last outing.
This fight has the potential for a good finish, but both men are solid. It will more than likely hit the judge's scorecards in a hard-fought contest. It has the potential to be a solid fight, but on this card it ends up starting the rankings.
No. 11: Vaughan Lee vs. Motonobu Tezuka
Vaughan Lee (12-8-1) and Motonobu Tezuka (19-5-4) are both coming off losses in their most recent outings in the Octagon, but a win will put the bantamweights back in the thick of things at 135 pounds.
This is not the sexiest bout on the card, but in comparison to Watson vs. Nedkov, it will look exceptionally better. The smaller guys get after it.
The speed and technique of these two bantamweights will provide for a fun undercard fight.
This will be the second fight on the card and will be seen via Facebook.
No. 10: James Te-Huna vs. Ryan Jimmo
James Te-Huna (15-5) will attempt to make it four straight under the UFC banner when he takes on Ryan Jimmo (17-1).
Jimmo shined in his UFC debut with a one-punch knockout over Anthony Perosh. It only took seven seconds for him to announce his place in the UFC.
That will probably not be the case against Te-Huna. The two light heavyweights can deal out, and take, punishment.
If their recent UFC fights are any indication, then we should be in for a classic brawl, but Jimmo is smart enough to avoid a firefight against Te-Huna. That will slow the pace of the fight and stall some of the potential action.
No. 9: Terry Etim vs. Renee Forte
We have not seen Terry Etim (15-4) since the highlight-reel knockout he suffered at the foot of Edson Barboza. He returns after a year away from the cage against Renee Forte (7-2).
Etim has always been one of the more fun lightweights to watch. He has solid striking and likes to bang.
Forte comes off The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. After waiting to make his UFC debut, he faltered against Sergio Moraes. This is his chance to show he was one of the top guys of the season and take out Etim.
This is an interesting test for Forte coming off a loss. Etim has a wealth of Octagon experience against tough fighters. Each fighter has question marks entering this bout, but it should be entertaining to see each man try to get a W.
No. 8: Andy Ogle vs. Josh Grispi
For The Ultimate Fighter cast member Andy Ogle (8-2) dropped a split decision in his UFC debut and will take on Josh Grispi (14-4) on the undercard.
Grispi at one point was on the brink of a title shot in the featherweight division. Then he ran in to relative unknown Dustin Poirier and the wheels came off of his hype train like few others. Grispi would go on to lose his next two bouts in the UFC as well.
Grispi has his back against the wall. Few fighters get to stay in the Octagon posting an 0-4 record, and Ogle will be hungry for his first win also.
This featherweight fight could be a sleeper, but judging from recent performances, it comes in at No. 9.
No. 7: Paul Sass vs. Danny Castillo
Paul Sass (13-1) vs. Danny Castillo (14-5) will be a very fun lightweight battle.
Sass suffered his first professional loss in his last outing against Matt Wiman in a stunning submission defeat. Castillo was looking for his fourth consecutive win, but Michael Johnson stormed back with a KO to stop his bid.
Both of these 155-pounders were beginning to make waves in the division prior to dropping their last bout, and an impressive win on Saturday will put them back into the hunt.
Sass' submission acumen and Castillo's wrestling should make for an interesting ground battle for all the grappling fans.
No. 6: Che Mills vs. Matthew Riddle
Matthew Riddle (7-3, 1 NC) could be looking for his third straight victory, but a post-fight test for marijuana came back positive at UFC 149. At UFC 154, he returned with a solid victory over the ever-tough John Maguire.
Awaiting Riddle will be Che Mills (15-5, 1 NC).
Mills' striking and Riddle's unpredictability will entertain the crowd in London. This could turn in to an all-out brawl between two durable welterweights.
Neither man will be a contender anytime soon, but that should not stop anyone from enjoying this fight. It is kicking off the main card for a reason.
No. 5: Jimi Manuwa vs. Cyrille Diabate
Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Jimi Manuwa (12-0) makes his second trip to the Octagon as he squares off against Cyrille Diabate (19-8-1).
Manuwa made an impressive UFC debut with a TKO performance over Kyle Kingsbury. However, Diabate is a crafty veteran with crisp striking. This will be a significant test for the newcomer.
Diabate has quietly won two in a row in the UFC and a win over Manuwa would be big for The Snake. And in his last bout vs. Chad Griggs, he showed off some improved grappling to boot.
If this fight remains on the feet, then we could be in for a treat. Power against technique. We will see exactly what Manuwa is made out of, and if Diabate can come through with another upset.
No. 4: Gunnar Nelson vs. Jorge Santiago
Gunnar Nelson (10-0-1), undefeated grappling ace, has a big test awaiting him in Jorge Santiago (25-10).
Nelson made quick work of DaMarques Johnson in his UFC debut, and it seemed as if the hype surrounding him was for real. Santiago will test that once and for all on Saturday.
Santiago is a fighter who has all of the gifts, but for whatever reason cannot put it together inside the Octagon. He is a quality grappler and stellar striker. The American Top Team fighter can compete with most in the world at middleweight, and now he drops to 170 in his Octagon return.
If Nelson can take care of business he will immediately jump up the welterweight rankings and be someone to watch out for the rest of the way in 2013, but Santiago is looking to make a statement by derailing the young prospect.
This is a fantastic fight you do not want to miss.
No. 3: Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier
At the top of this list you begin to split hairs. Any of these final three bouts could easily steal the show. They are a showcase of the UFC's stellar matchmaking.
Cub Swanson (18-5) and Dustin Poirier (13-2) are two of the top featherweights in the world today and a win would put them in the mix for a potential title shot later in the year.
Other featherweights will have something to say about that, but timing is everything and a win on Saturday will at least have their names in the discussion.
Neither Swanson nor Poirier are involved in many boring affairs. This one is not likely to be, either.
Two dynamic featherweights who can do it all. It could easily be Fight of the Night.
No. 2: Phil Harris vs. Ulysses Gomez
The very first fight of the night is a can't-miss flyweight affair. If you have to log in to Facebook on your phone and stream it from there, then you should. This will be a fantastic fight.
Phil Harris (21-10, 1 NC) and Ulysses Gomez (9-3) can put themselves back in the mix at 125 pounds with a win.
Harris dropped his UFC debut via submission to Darren Uyenoyama, and Gomez was upset via KO by newly minted title challenger John Moraga in his debut.
The flyweight division is full of ultra-talented fighters. Harris and Gomez are two of them. They are elite fighters who are unfortunately opening the card on Facebook in the early afternoon stateside. One can only hope that this fight will be replayed on the main card if given time.
Do not let their UFC debuts fool you, these are two of the better flyweights in the world and this will be a significant fight in the division. And a fun one at that.
No. 1: UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship: Renan Barao vs. Michael McDonald
Title fights are always interesting, but sometimes they lack the stylistic match-up desired. This is not one of those cases.
UFC Interim Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao (29-1, 1 NC) and Michael McDonald (15-1) are at the top of their game, and this fight could be 25 minutes of glorious championship action.
Either man can finish the other at any time. They have knockout power and crafty submissions. If they throw caution to the wind, then they will win Fight of the Night, but with so much at stake, expect a more technical and thoughtful approach.
McDonald enters with back-to-back knockouts, and Barao has dominated everyone in his UFC tenure.
Dominick Cruz will be awaiting the winner, but neither man can look past this bout as they are Cruz's equals. This is a match-up of the elite. That is why this is the No. 1 fight of the night.