With UFC Fight Night 107 behind us, there were many noteworthy performances which saw fighters’ stock rise. Jay Primetown takes a look at the key performers from London and what could be in store for them later this year. Marc Diakiese Overview: The Englishman came into the UFC with a lot of fanfare. At just 24 years of age, he was looked at as a future star in the sport because of high level athleticism and his ability for the spectacular. He won his first two fights in the UFC, the first by knockout, and a win at Fight Night 107 would set him up nicely for a run in 2017. Diakiese was tasked to fight fellow European Teemu Packalen. Diakiese not only won the fight, but he did so in just 30 seconds. After a couple of spinning kicks to put his opponent on the back-foot. Once he did, he landed a spectacular punch that stunned Packalen and sent him crashing to the canvas for an instant stoppage. Diakiese was rewarded with a ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus moved to 3-0 in the UFC. Outlook: Diakiese is certainly a rising fighter in the lightweight division. With a three-fight winning streak and an exciting style, the youngster will continue to be booked in 2017 against opponents that will allow for him to show off his striking talents. I expect Diakiese to continue to be booked for European events and for him to jump up to the main card of events as his reputation continues to grow. It’s possible Diakiese gets booked for the May 28th card in Stockholm, Sweden, but more likely the Glasgow, Scotland event on July 16th where he can be featured prominently. Jimi Manuwa Overview: The light heavyweight contender entered his first UFC main event on the back of the biggest win of his career. Not only did he beat Top 10 ranked light heavyweight Ovince St. Preux, but he knocked him out in devastating fashion. Tasked with fighting another Top 10 foe in Corey Anderson at Fight Night 107, Manuwa was able to back up his St. Preux performance with a one-punch knockout. With back-to-back ‘Performance of the Night’ bonuses resulting from Top 10 wins, Manuwa is surging towards the top of the weight class. Outlook: Manuwa somewhat jokingly called out boxer David Haye to a boxing match for the mythical Mayweather vs. McGregor super-fight card. While that bout seems unlikely, what Manuwa will be doing is keeping a close eye on what happens on April 8th when champion Daniel Cormier takes on challenger Anthony Johnson in a rematch at UFC 210. If the winner of that fight comes out unscathed, it’s very likely that the next defense will be during International Fight Week in July. Depending on the availability of former champ Jon Jones (suspension is up in early July), Manuwa could be in a situation where he is next in line for an opportunity at the title. Manuwa will be rooting for Cormier, as he was previously knocked out by Johnson in September 2015 and will less likely be given an opportunity against Johnson due to that prior loss. Gunnar Nelson Overview: Iceland’s best-ever mixed martial arts fighter and training partner of Conor McGregor has shown that SBG is not a one-man gym. Nelson was coming off his best victory to date in dropping talented striker Albert Tumenov, and then torching him on the ground once he had hurt the Russian. At UFC Fight Night 107, he was tasked with a similar opponent in Alan Jouban. The American is a bit more well-rounded than Tumenov, but the result was nearly identical. Nelson landed a beautiful combination that hurt Jouban in the second round, and then he quickly wrapped up the victory by putting him in a guillotine before he had a chance to recover. Nelson has shown the welterweight division that he’s not just a submission artist, but an all-around fighter capable of hurting opponents in a variety of ways. Outlook: The ninth-ranked welterweight has solidified a position for himself in the UFC’s Top 10 rankings with his back-to-back win over talented strikers. This is an important year for Nelson, as he looks to make a push into the division’s Top 5 and potentially into title contention. I expect Nelson to fight twice more this year, once in the summer time against Top 15 welterweight opposition, and then again in the fall when Conor McGregor returns to MMA to fight on the same card. Look for Nelson to take at least one fight against a proven wrestler, which will be a major test for him as he attempts to prove he’s worthy of title consideration.
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