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The Downes Side: UFC on FUEL TV 5 Predictions

UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC on FUEL TV 5, taking place Saturday, September 29

Don’t pinch yourself boy and girls, it’s time for the second Downes Side in as many weeks! Luckily I was still able to guide you all from the darkness this week despite the fact that Mitt Romney called me in to coach him for the US presidential debate in a couple days. The campaign thinks that my expertise in internet memes and cat pictures will help make him more relatable to the youth vote. Who am I to argue?

Meanwhile, in Nottingham England some of the world’s best fighters are busily preparing for UFC on FUEL TV 5 inside the Capital FM Arena. The main event of the evening features a heavyweight contest between Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve and Stipe Miocic. The division is up for grabs right now and the winner of this fight could really set themselves up nicely to climb up the ladder.

Che Mills (14-5) vs Duane Ludwig (21-13)
The main card kicks off (at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT, mind you) in the welterweight division with “Beautiful” Che Mills taking on Duane “Bang” Ludwig. Both fighters are looking to bounce back from knockout losses; Mills' at the hands of Rory MacDonald while Ludwig ate a Dan Hardy counter hook in May.

This has to be the early favorite for fight of the night/knockout of the night. Both guys prefer to keep it standing and possess 17 KOs between the two of them. Mills will be the aggressor and the initiate the exchanges while Ludwig will sit back and try to counterstrike -- a plan which earned him a victory against Amir Sadollah. Unfortunately, there are too many miles on “Bang” at this point in his career. He’s 2-4 in his current stint in the organization and doesn’t seem to have the explosiveness that earned him fastest KO in UFC history. Mills’ speed advantage will help him beat Ludwig to the punch and take this one by TKO in the 3rd round.

John Hathaway (16-1) vs John Maguire (18-3)

We remain in the welterweight division as John “HItman” Hathaway and John “The One” Maguire compete for the best Brit-on-Brit violence since the War of Roses. Hathaway holds a 6-1 record in the UFC after beating Pascal Krauss by decision in May. Maguire rides a seven-fight win streak, with his armbar victory of DaMarques Johnson in April earning him his tenth career submission victory.

Besides fighting for the title of England’s top welterweight, whoever wins this fight should find themselves in the top tier of the division as a whole. This fight boils down to who is the more well-rounded fighter. Maguire’s “gypsy jiu-jitsu” is certainly something to be concerned about, but Hathaway is that rare breed of English fighter who has wrestling competency. He’ll be able to dictate where he wants the fight to go and win the standup exchanges en route to a decision win.

Paul Sass (13-0) vs Matt Wiman (14-6)
We drop down to the lightweight division as submission ace Paul Sass looks to continue his climb in the division against “Handsome” Matt Wiman. Everyone knows Sass is a dangerous sub guy. He even submitted Mr. Charisma, Jacob Volkmann, at UFC 146, who thought it'd be a good idea to get the fight to the ground early against a guy who's submitted 12 of his 13 opponents. Sidelined by injuries throughout his career, Wiman fights for the first time in 2012 and looks to finally enter upper echelon of the division.

Wiman’s greatest strength has been his ability to put fighters on their backs and grind them out. Despite the fact that he showed solid submission defense in his fight against Cole Miller, it would better serve him to use his wrestling to keep this fight on the feet. The “Sassangle” hasn’t shown much in the striking department, but why bother with a sub game that good? That’s like going to a steakhouse and ordering fish. Volkmann is a better wrestler than Wiman and the fact that even he couldn’t stop the the Sass-man's submission does not bode well. This fight will eventually get on the ground, where Sass will work his magic and earn the tap in the 2nd round.

Brad Pickett (21-6) vs Yves Jabouin (18-7)

We head to the bantamweight division for Brad “One Punch” Pickett and Yves “Tiger” Jabouin. While he may be known for his willingness to stand and trade in the pocket, ten of Pickett’s career wins have come via submission. He showed those skills last April when he beat Damacio Page with a rear-naked choke. Since dropping down to 135, Jabouin (a Tristar Gym product) has been on a roll with three straight wins.

“Tiger” has experienced a resurgence in the bantamweight division, but two of those wins have come by controversial split decisions against opponents of a lesser caliber than Pickett. Jabouin will start fast and strong, but he doesn’t possess the firepower to put away his opponent. As the fight goes on, Jabouin will fade and Pickett will get stronger. “One Punch” will stun Yves in the second, get the takedown and finish him with a rear-naked choke. Then you will all turn on your television’s closed captioning system for the post fight interview. I’m hoping to learn some cool new slang.

Dan Hardy (24-10) vs Amir Sadollah (6-3)
That brings us to the co-main event of the evening as Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy looks to impress his countrymen against Amir Sadollah. Hardy finally returned to the win column with that aforementioned KO of Duane Ludwig at 146. Sadollah lost a decision to Duane Ludwig two fights ago, but was able to squeak out a split decision win over Jorge Lopez in May.

Predicting fights based on common opponents rarely works...except in this case. Hardy has shown that he has the power to alter a fight with one punch while his opponent does not. Sadollah does possess a strong sambo background that could get Hardy on his back, but I don’t see him being able to hold him. Everyone praises Sadollah’s clinch game, but it will only help him survive a Dan Hardy onslaught as he loses by decision.

Stefan Struve (24-5) vs Stipe Miocic (9-0)
That brings us to the main event of the evening. After a vicious KO at the hands of Travis Browne, Stefan Struve -- now seven feet tall -- has been on a roll, finishing three fights in a row against Pat Barry, Dave Herman and Lavar Johnson. A former Golden Gloves boxer and NCAA wrestler and baseball player, undefeated Stipe Miocic has a three-fight UFC win streak of his own. Plus, he has an easier time buying blue jeans.

Every Struve fight of the last year reads the same: He’s walking into a fight where people think that he’ll be outmatched in terms of strength and standup. Every time, though, he’s proven the doubters wrong (yours truly included). Miocic does possess the biggest grappling challenge for Struve so far, but he’s risen to the occasion his last three fights and it’ll continue here. Miocic will put Struve on his back in the 2nd, but “Skyscraper” will  find a way to put those big legs around his neck and get the triangle choke victory.

That wraps up another elucidating edition of the Downes Side. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, make sure to add your own predictions, thoughts and favorite appetizers on the page. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more cat photos to uncover.