The Five Count: Top Storylines from UFC Fight Night 53 Fallout

niklas-backstromTheMMA-Analysis co-host Jay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC Fight Night 53 in Stockholm, Sweden. #5 Two Thumbs Up for Tiger Muay Thai – Leading off the UFC’s return to Stockholm, two Chechen fighters lit up their opponents with violent knockout victories. Featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov knocked out usually durable Ernest Chavez inside the first round. In the next bout on the card, Mairbek Taisumov fought Polish submission specialist Marcin Bandel. After a couple minutes on the feet, Taisumov landed straight punch that downed Bandel and the referee was quick to stop the fight. These two fighters are both only in their mid-twenties and are the products of a gym on the rise. Thailand is a new hot bed for MMA training camps. In addition to the Brian Ebersole and Roger Huerta-coached Tiger Muay Thai, both American Kickboxing Academy and Team Quest have affiliate camps in the East Asian country. This area is now at the forefront of MMA training in the Asian region. It will be critical for talent growth in the future for Southeast Asia for top talent like Taisumov and Tukhugov to train there and give local fighters quality guys to train against. #4 He Got Game – American Top Team’s Charles Rosa was put in a very difficult situation. He was called in on short notice not only to make his UFC debut, but to do so on a different continent against a top 15 featherweight in Dennis Siver. Few gave the Massachusetts fighter a chance, but after a difficult first round in which he showed good submission defense, he fared well in the second round to make it a competitive fight. In the loss, Rosa showed decent leg kicks, above average grappling, and good submission defense. His camp should be happy with his performance and expect him to get a win in his second UFC bout. #3 Workhorse to the Max – Hawaii’s born and raised Max Holloway has had an excellent year. In four fights this year inside the Octagon, Holloway has earned himself four wins. On Saturday night, Holloway beat up Sweden’s Akira Corassani earning himself his most high profile scalp of 2014. In a way, Holloway has become the featherweight version of Donald Cerrone. He takes fights on short notice and he’s been finishing them all inside the distance. Holloway has fought more times before his 23rd birthday than anyone in the history of the UFC. Holloway is on the cusp heading into 2015 where he should have his opportunity to move himself into the top 15 in the featherweight division. In a sport always looking for new stars, Holloway is one to keep an eye on. #2 It’s Time for Poland – Since the hire of Garry Cook to oversee Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), the UFC has made a real effort to develop interest in the sport in the region. They have held a handful of shows each year around Europe. While the shows have had varying success, it’s been more difficult identifying talent in the region. One country that is on the rise is Poland. At UFC Stockholm, Polish fighters went 2-1 at the event. Middleweight Krzysztof Jotko earned a unanimous decision win over Sweden’s Tor Troeng. While, light heavyweight Jan Blachowicz knocked out Ilir Latifi via body kick. There has been talk that the UFC would like to add Poland to its event calendar in 2015. If the organization does add the eastern European country, it will have some solid local fighters to display from its roster. #1 State of Nordic MMA – In the last couple years, Nordic MMA has been on the rise Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson and Sweden’s Alexander Gustafsson have been at the forefront. Highly attended shows in Stockholm, Sweden with increasing talent in the region have become the norm. Saturday’s event in Sweden was a low for the sport in the region. Several of the region’s top fighters appeared on the UFC card, but found themselves on the losing end of fights. These fighters were setup with good opportunities for victories. On the main portion of the fight card, Nordic fighters were over 2 to 1 favorites in 3 of the 4 bouts. However, the favored Nordic fighters lost all three of those bouts. The headlining fighter, Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson, closed as a -360 favorite at Several Bookmakers. The undefeated Nelson had very little success grappling with Rick Story and therefore was forced into a standup fight with the American, ultimately losing a decision. Story derailed the Nelson hype train and handed him his first loss of his career. Despite the poor day in the Octagon, the event still drew an attendance of over 10,000 people with a gate of $1.1 million. While this gate was much lower than the gate of the previous two UFC events in Stockholm, it still shows that the UFC can draw without the region’s only true championship contender (Alexander Gustafsson) on the fight card. Expect a Nordic stop to remain on the UFC’s calendar for years to come.

Written by Jay Primetown

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