This weekend is UFC on FUEL TV 8, live from the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan. In the main event, Pride Never Die, as Wanderlei Silva faces Brian Stann. Before that fight, the UFC will host an additional 5 fights on Fuel including Pride veterans Mark Hunt and Takanori Gomi. In this Bloody Elbow fight card primer, we take a look at the main card action, breaking down everything you need to know about these fights. Be sure to take a look at our prelim primers, and check back later today for all the news on Silva vs. Stann.
UFC on FUEL TV 8: Silva vs. Stann airs live from Japan this Saturday, March 2. The show begins at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT for the prelims on Facebook, 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT for the main card on Fuel.
This fight sees two of the Heavyweight division's cult favorites square off with big rankings implications on the line. Both men are coming off solid win streaks, and the winner will move into title contention. It also is likely to be a striker vs. grappler match-up. Representing striking is former K-1 GP champion Mark Hunt, who looked done with MMA after a terrible 6 fight losing streak from 2006-2010, but has now come back strong. He's won his last 3, including a big win over Cheick Kongo in his last fight. Stefan Struve has been relying more on his submission game lately and with good results. He's on a 4 fight win streak and coming off another big win over Stipe Miocic. This should be a very entertaining fight, even if it is short.
"The Fireball Kid" returns to Japan where he became something of a legend in Pride. The former Pride Lightweight champion had an amazing run in that company, but faded after they closed their doors in 2007. He's clearly not the fighter he once was, yet has still put together a respectable 3-3 UFC record. He comes in on a 2 fight win streak - the last being a split decision defeat of Mac Danzig. Diego Sanchez is the first ever TUF champion and has a very commendable UFC career. Like Gomi, he seems to be winding down, though remains a threat. He has not fought since a loss to Jake Ellenberger over a year ago. For this fight, Sanchez yo-yos back down to Lightweight after moving back up to Welterweight in 2010.
Yushin Okami is the rare Japanese fighter who almost entirely made his name outside of Japan. Okami has been near the top of the UFC Middleweight ranks since his Octagon debut back in 2006. He had a shot at Anderson Silva in 2011, and is 2-1 since that loss. He's coming off a victory over Alan Belcher in December. Hector Lombard is the power punching former Bellator champion who came to the UFC with a mountain of hype last year. He then lost to Tim Boetsch in an awful fight and that hype vanished. He redeemed himself somewhat with a first round KO of Rousimar Palhares last time out, but is still looking to prove that he is a legitimate contender in the UFC.
Mizuto Hirota comes to the UFC by way of Strikeforce. He's a former champion in Japan's DEEP and Sengoku organizations who was last seen losing to Pat Healy last summer in his lone Strikeforce outing. Hirota is probably best known for having his arm broken by Shinya Aoki at Dynamite!! a few years ago. He was on the shelf for nearly 2 years after that, and is 2-1 since. Rani Yahya is a talented grappler who competed in the WEC for 3 years. There, he went 4-3, including a notable win over Mark Hominick. He has a somewhat large number of losses, but has faced a stiff level of competition, with those losses coming against the likes of JZ, Chad Mendes, and Joseph Benavidez among others. He comes in off a submission win over Josh Grispi.
Siyar Bahadurzada came into the UFC last year and made a big bang in his debut, knocking out Paulo Thiago in under a minute. He's been on the shelf ever since due to a hand injury. A former Golden Glory fighter, Bahadurzada now trains with the Blackzilians. As you would expect from a fighter with a Golden Glory background, Bahadurzada is a powerful striker with a number of early stoppage wins. Dong Hyun Kim has used his judo background to successfully outgrapple opponents in his UFC run. He was undefeated in his first 16 fights, including a win over Nate Diaz, but is 2-2 in his last 4, with losses to Carlos Condit and Demian Maia. Like Siyar, he's also coming in off a win over Paulo Thiago, defeating Thiago by decision last fall.