1. Gunn-ing for Glory
Gunnar Nelson, one of the most-talked about talents on the UFC roster, headlines an event for the first time in Stockholm. The Icelandic schemer has racked up four straight UFC wins with barely a scratch for his trouble. His unorthodox style, allied with his icy-cool composure, has made thrilling viewing thus far in the Octagon.
Is Nelson a genuine contender? A win over the highly-respected Rick Story would propel him into the upper reaches of the welterweight division. But Story isn’t there for the ride. He holds a win over welterweight kingpin Johny Hendricks and is desperate to move back into title contention. Many believe that his brand of all-out aggression could be the answer to the Gunnar Nelson riddle. It’s a classic clash of styles that should be a thrilling conclusion to fight week in Stockholm.
2. Hammer Time
It promises to be an emotional return to Sweden for Ilir ‘The Sledgehammer’ Latifi. Eighteen months ago he debuted as a late-notice replacement for Alexander Gustafsson against Gegard Mousasi. Now he’s a main card attraction in his own right, courtesy of devastating wins over Cyrille Diabate and Chris Dempsey.
Building a reputation a first-class finisher, Latifi gets another opportunity to showcase his fearsome power when he squares off against Pole Jan Blachowicz. The Swede believes in destiny and dreams of fighting for UFC gold. Another impressive win would bring him a step closer to reality.
3. The Comeback Kid
As Mike King rained down blows on Cathal Pendred in a torrid first round in Dublin, the local man looked set for defeat in front of his countrymen. Not only did he survive the opening stanza, but Pendred staged a staggering comeback in the second. His rear naked choke forced the tap from King and sent his fanatical following into raptures.
Pendred squares off against Gasan Umalatov in Stockholm having made the decision to return to his natural weight class of 170lb. The former rugby hopeful believes he has the strength and power to surge up the rankings. Victory over Umalatov would set him on the right path.
4. Strom Stuff
Outspoken Swede Niklas Backstrom announced himself to the UFC universe with an outstanding submission win over highly-touted Finnish star Tom Niinimaki in Berlin. His rare bulldog choke pocketed him a Performance of the Night bonus and added to the buzz surrounding the unbeaten featherweight.
Now the uber-confident Backstrom faces Englishman Mike Wilkinson in Stockholm and he’s certain of victory in front of his home fans. Dismissing Wilkinson as a ‘no-hoper’, he’s already set his sights on a clash with fellow firebrand Conor McGregor in 2015.
5. Nordic Pride
Aside from the names mentioned above, the likes of Akira Corassani, Magnus Cedenblad and Nico Musoke are all in action on a card stacked with local talent.
It’s an opportunity for the new breed of European talent to follow in the footsteps of Alexander Gustaffson and Conor McGregor, and make a statement to the rest of the UFC in front of a frenzied fanbase.
What new stars will emerge? Tune into UFCFIGHTPASS.com to find out.