This Saturday, the UFC once again comes to Fuel TV. Coming out of Nottingham, England, the show airs Saturday, September 29 live at 4:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. PT. The main event of the show is a very good Heavyweight battle between Stefan Struve and Stipe Miocic, but this is not a main event only kind of show - there's good stuff on both the main card and the prelims. Here, we preview the five prelims available on Facebook. The Facebook stream begins at 1:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. PT.
This is the main event of the prelim card and features TUF veteran Kingsbury vs. undefeated UFC newcomer Manuwa. Kingsbury has been a part of the UFC since 2008, which is kind of amazing considering how poorly he started for the company. On season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter, Kingsbury lost to Ryan Bader for a spot in the house, got in as an injury replacement, lost his first fight in the house to Krzysztof Soszynski, then lost on the finale to Tom Lawlor. That's a bad start, yet the poorly nicknamed Kingsbu managed to turn things around winning his next 4 straight before losing a decision to Stephan Bonnar and being steamrolled by Glover Teixeira.
Kingsbury has steadily improved over the years, with his best performance coming against Fabio Maldonado last year. His work at American Kickboxing Academy has made him a solid fighter overall, who is able to use his size and strength to his advantage during striking exchanges, particularly from the Thai clinch, where he is able to show his more brutal side. He still remains a work in progress though, with some weaknesses on the ground, and questions about his ability to keep the pace up over 15 minutes.
More UFC on FUEL TV 5 Dissections
Jimi Manuwa makes his UFC debut here after putting together an 11-0 record in his 4 year career. So far, he's fought exclusively in England, with his biggest win coming over Anthony Rea. He has a colorful past, including spending time in prison for burglary. Manuwa's UFC debut has been a long time coming, as he has twice before turned down the chance to fight in the UFC, feeling it was not yet the right time for him. Now, at 32 years old, he thinks he's ready - we'll see how that works out.
Manuwa is a very aggressive fighter who has finished all of his fights - most in the opening minutes. Manuwa is primarily a boxer, with big power, who likes to charge in and swing. And he does well with that style. But he also sacrifices technique, standing very upright and flat footed. On the ground, he mainly looks to keep up the attack with ground and pound. Like Kingsbury, he is good from the clinch, using both knees and dirty boxing uppercuts.
These two seem set for a stand-up war, with both bringing a lot of power and aggression. I think the difference maker will be Kingsbury's experience. Though he doesn't always have the best gas tank, he's been in deep waters before, and Manuwa hasn't. Manuwa could easily blitz him and earn a fast, definitive win here, but I think Kingsbury survives early and is able to impose his will for the win.
Prediction: Kyle Kingsbury by decision
Andy Ogle (8-1) vs. Akira Corassani (9-3(1))
This is a battle between two TUF veterans both making their proper UFC debuts. Season 16's Ogle and season 15's Corassani have both seen their debuts delayed due to injury, but now get the chance to shine on Fuel.
Ogle surprised me on TUF, scoring a small upset over Mike Rio to make the quarter-finals. He has a ton of heart, plus a fun personality, but to be honest, he didn't much impress me prior to the Rio fight. He's a well rounded fighter, who likes the stand-up but seems more comfortable on the feet. His striking remains a bit stiff, but he has a nice trip takedown, and good submission defense on the ground. Again, his heart carried the day against Rio, but his striking troubles cost him a KO loss to eventual finalist Al Iaquinta.
Corassani is a bit of a wild card. On TUF, he was involved in a lot of controversy, including various altercations in the house, a questionable win where he may have tapped, and a loss to Dennis Bermudez where he was choked unconscious. In that fight with Bermudez, Corassani had success with his striking, but it was his lack of submission defense that ultimately cost him.
On the feet, this should be Corassani's fight, but on the mat, I like Ogle. He's not a submission machine, but he's the superior grappler and can take control of the fight on the ground. Corassani is coming off, in theory, a 19 month layoff, but his 3 TUF fights took place in that time. This is a tough one to pick, but I like Corassani to exploit Ogle's striking deficits for the KO. But Ogle's proved me wrong before.
Prediction: Akira Corassani by KO, round 1
Like Kingsbury vs. Manuwa, this is TUF veteran vs. debuting UK prospect. And, like that fight, it's a battle of strikers. Here, Watson is the prospect, and he's a good one - better than his record would indicate. Watson got off to a bit of a bumpy start to his career, facing stiff competition early and going 4-3 to start his career. But since 2008 he's gone 11-1 with wins over the likes of Ninja Rua and John Maguire. He now trains at Tristar Gym and Greg Jackson's. Watson is a powerful striker, who is able to score stoppage victories using all manner of strikes. Those stoppages can be sudden, or more patient. As you would expect from anyone who trains at those camps, he is solid in all his fundamentals, including wrestling, though he rarely uses it. His one area of weakness is submission defense, though I don't see that being a factor here.
Brad Tavares has gone 3-1 in the UFC, and is coming off the biggest win of his career over Dongi Yang. Tavares fights like a truck - he has a seriously tough chin and likes to push forward throwing heavy hands. He's not all raw power though, as he does a good job using technique to find the openings in his opponent's defense. His one loss comes from Aaron Simpson, who grinded Tavares down. That fight showed improvements in Tavares's wrestling defense, though it still remains an area he could improve on. But like Watson's submission defense gap, I don't see that playing a role here.
This looks to be a straight forward striking battle, with two men hunting for the KO and absorbing a lot of shots along the way. Tavares has more Octagon experience, but Watson makes up for that with his more diverse striking, incorporating more kicks and knees in addition to his hands. I see that variety of striking being key here.
Prediction: Tom Watson by decision
TUF veteran, debuting European prospect... you know the drill by now. This one sees season 9 runner-up DaMarques Johnson representing TUF. Johnson takes this fight on short notice, which is why it is being contested at a 175 pound catchweight. Johnson has a long frame and he uses it well in the stand-up game, which is where he is most proficient. He has solid striking, including nice knees from the clinch. On the ground, his offensive grappling is a bit underrated, with some slick submission wins, but his defense leaves something to be desired, as he has often been caught. That's unfortunate for this fight, as Nelson is a ground expert. The Iclandic fighter is a Renzo Gracie black belt with impressive grappling credentials. But he's also steadily becoming an even more complete MMA fighter who can hold his own on the feet. Here is video of him in action.
Johnson's biggest advantage here is his size, as he'll have a height and reach advantage over Nelson. If he can use that advantage to keep it standing and on the outside, he could control the striking. But eventually, I see this on the ground, where Nelson is far superior.
Prediction: Gunnar Nelson by submission, round 2
Jason Young (9-5) vs. Robbie Peralta (15-3(1))
This is a fun Featherweight clash, and should be a good opener. Young is 1-2 in the UFC. He's struggled to find consistency, but then again his losses tend to come against quality opposition such as Dustin Poirier and Michihiro Omigawa. Young is a stand-up fighter who has shown very nice striking in all 3 of his UFC fights. He also has good takedown defense and is generally able to keep the fight standing. He's a tough fighter who has all the tools, but just hasn't yet been able to quite put them together effectively. Peralta fought throughout California, including scoring a big win in Strikeforce over Hiroyuki Takaya, before coming to the UFC last year. He's been on the sidelines since November. He comes from a Taekwondo background, and uses that style inside the Octagon. He also has grappling experience, but, like Young, prefers to use his wrestling skill to keep the fight standing.
This is a close fight and a tough one to call. Both fighters are tough, and both can give and take on the feet. The safe bet is Peralta, but between his time off and Young being underrated, I'll go with the upset this time.
Prediction: Jason Young by decision