Fresh off of an event last weekend, the UFC is getting right back into the swing of things with a special Wednesday show, their first-ever on FUEL TV. Luckily for Comcast subscribers and other who don’t have/aren’t able to get the network, this week is a free preview week and a lot of carriers are taking part.
So two days from now Jake Ellenberger is going to put his status at a top contender in the UFC’s welterweight division on the line against hard-nosed veteran Diego Sanchez, is who riding a win streak of his own and looking to return to the division’s upper-echelon.
UFC on Fuel TV 1 will also feature a heavyweight collision between Stefan Struve and Dave Herman as well as a middleweight battle pitting Aaron Simpson against Ronny Markes. Here’s a preview of the main card, which can be seen in its entirety after the jump.
The fight: Ellenberger, who is only a fight or two away from a much-earned title shot, faces Sanchez, winner of his last two, albeit controversially. Ellenberger is coming off of a surprising first-round stoppage of Jake Shields while Sanchez has taken grinding decisions over Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann in his most recent outings.
What to look for: Which fighter will be able to impose their will? Both fighters are solid wrestlers in their own right, but Sanchez’s slick reversals and submissions may have Ellenberger thinking twice about going to the ground. At the same token, Sanchez is more than capable of handling himself on the feet, but will he be keen on doing that after tasting Ellenberger’s infamous power?
The fight: Struve, who remains one of the heavyweight’s brightest young stars despite some recent losses, will try to permanently right the ship and perform well against a heavy-handed striker in Dave Herman, who was victorious in his UFC debut against Jon-Olav Einemo at UFC 131 last June.
What to look for: As talented as Struve is, he has struggled mightily with fellow heavyweights that possess any kind of fight-ending power. He would be making a mistake in turning this fight into a slugfest. If he is able to take things to the ground, Herman’s ground game remains somewhat of a question mark. Either way, Herman will have to scramble and maintain an active guard to keep Struve’s long limbs at bay on the mat.
The fight: Simpson has pieced together another three-fight UFC win streak and will look to continue his climb up the 185 lb. ladder against Markes, a talented grappler in his own right who earned a unanimous decision over Karlos Vemola last August in a bout that took place at light heavyweight.
What to look for: The strength of both men is their top game and Greco-Roman control along the fence. Simpson will have an advantage on the feet and if a stalemate develops in the grappling department, it may end up being his key to victory. In his handling of Vemola however, Markes showed that he can put talented wrestlers on their back. It will be interesting to see if he can do the same to Simpson.
The fight: In a battle of undefeated heavyweight prospects, Miocic, a former Division I wrestler and Golden Gloves amateur boxing champion, takes on De Fries, an English submission artist that has won all eight of his professional bouts to date. Both fighters were winners in their respective UFC debuts: Miocic won a decision over Joey Beltran while De Fries did the same against Rob Broughton.
What to look for: A severe clash of styles. While Miocic is a talented wrestler, he’s solidified himself as a knockout artist early on in his career. He can’t afford to test the waters on the mat against De Fries, who would likely submit his foe if the opportunity came about. Whoever is able to goad the other into fighting their fight will be the winner.
The fight: Dillashaw will attempt to bounce back from a disappointing defeat in the TUF 14 bantamweight finals to John Dodson against another athletic youngster in Watson, who has split his two UFC bouts to date and owns seven wins by submission.
What to look for: A fight that will take place in every area. Both Dillashaw and Watson are solid standing and on the ground. Dillashaw will hold an edge in power while Watson’s lengthy frame will make it easy to land jabs and leg kicks. If the fight goes to the ground, which it more than likely will, it will be a battle of Dillashaw’s power top game against Watson’s slick chokes. Should be fun to watch.