Every time UFC puts on an event, speculation, questions, and theories arise about which fighters will perform, or underperform. Will new contenders emerge? Will established ones fall? Where will the winners go? Which losers will still have a job on Monday? Who is healthy? Who is fighting injured? Anytime the UFC athletes are set to enter the octagon, questions follow.
That being said, here are four burning questions going into UFC on FUEL TV 6: Franklin vs. Le.
4. Who Is Stanislav Nedkov?
Looking over the UFC on FUEL TV 6 fight card there are a number of UFC newcomers and unfamiliar names. The unknown fighter with the highest profile bout on the card in a man name Stanislav Nedkov, who meets Thiago Silva in the co-main event.
If you have a good memory, you will recognize Nedkov as the man who, in his UFC debut over one-year ago at UFC 134, came from behind to knock out Luiz Cane. Injuries have prevented the 31-year-old from making his sophomore UFC appearance, but at UFC on FUEL TV 6 he will finally get his chance to show what he is capable of.
Nedkov is undefeated in 12 professional fights and has finished all but two of his opponents. The native of Bulgaria has, as seen in his win over Cane, solid knockout power with submission skills to boot. Fifteen months is a long time without a fight, but if Nedkov used his layoff to improve his skills he could be even more dangerous than before.
By no means is Nedkov going to be a UFC champion any time soon, but judging from his lone UFC appearance he does have some talent. If he can stay healthy, Nedkov has the potential to produce some fun fights in the light heavyweight division.
3. Can Paulo Thiago Return To Top Form?
It wasn’t all that long ago that Paulo Thiago was viewed as one of the rising contenders in the UFC welterweight division. The Brazilian opened his UFC career with a 3-1 record, highlighted by a shocking upset knockout of Josh Koscheck in his UFC debut at UFC 95.
Thiago’s first four UFC fights showed he is a well-rounded fighter and a force to be reckoned with. Since then, though, Thiago has cooled off and his career has hit a decline. The 31-year-old has lost three of his last four bouts, the most recent being a brutal 42-second loss where Siyar Bahadurzada knocked Thiago stiff.
The part-time fighter, part-time special operations office has been rather inactive of late, spending a mere 42-seconds of cage time in Octagon in the last 15-months. Thiago possesses heavy hands and slick jiu-jitsu skills, and he will have the chance to show he still has what it takes to be one of the best 170-pounders in the world when he takes on Dong Hyun Kim at UFC on FUEL TV 6.
The bout with Kim is a crossroads fight for Thiago. Losing four of five fights in the UFC could spell the end of his stint with the organization. On the flip side, as we’ve seen countless times before, it only takes one impressive performance to revive a fighter’s career. It will be interesting to see how Thiago performs in China.
2. How Will The Chinese Crowd Receive A Live UFC Event?
The UFC has built a business on traveling to new markets and putting on live events to generate interest in the sport. That is exactly what is happening with UFC on FUEL TV 6.
The organization makes it’s first venture into China on Nov. 10 and with the country only having a limited amount of exposure to modern mixed martial arts, there’s no telling how the crowd at Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macau Resort Hotel in Macau will react to live UFC action.
The UFC held a successful event in Japan earlier this year, but that is a very different market as Japan has a long history of hosting major MMA shows. China, though, will be getting their first dose of the UFC with UFC on FUEL TV 6.
According to industry insiders, fans from all over Asia will be flying to Macau to take in the fights and it will be fascinating to see if the fans are silent like in Japan, obnoxious like in North America, or if they have their own style of enjoying the UFC.
1. How Will Rich Franklin Perform In His First Middleweight Fight Since 2008?
At UFC on FUEL TV 6, Rich Franklin returns to the middleweight division, a weight class he has not competed in since April 2008. “Ace” first departed the weight class four years ago after losing to reigning 185-pound champ Anderson Silva for a second time.
Since leaving the middleweight division, Franklin has fought his last seven bouts at a catchweight or light heavyweight against six former world champions. In his return to middleweight, Franklin faces another former world champion in ex-Strikeforce champ Cung Le.
Everyone knows Franklin is a talented fighter and future UFC Hall-of-Fame inductee, however, at 38-years of age his time in the sport is running out. The former UFC middleweight champion knows the clock on his career is ticking and based on that – he decided to make the move back to the division where he had the most success in his career for one final run at the title.
Franklin has not made the cut to middleweight in years and at his fragile age, there is not telling what kind of effect it will have on his performance. But for anyone who knows “Ace”, he is the consummate professional and it would be shocking if he were unprepared.
If Franklin truly wants to make another run towards the title, he must defeat Le and do it in style to show that, despite his age, he is still a threat in the middleweight division.