The fourth installment of UFC on FX promises to be a high-paced, frenetic affair with every fight booked, bar one taking place at 170lbs or below. The main card will culminate in two excellent lightweight clashes. The first completes an intriguing trilogy between Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher. The score currently stands at 1-1 and both encounters have been edge-of-your-seat fights. Whilst not being especially relevant for the title picture in the 155lbs divison, if this rubber match delivers half the excitement of the previous two it will provide an outstanding co-main event.
That match should have the crowd whipped into a frenzy and set the stage for the main event which does have a say in the goings on at the top of the lightweight tree. Both Maynard and Guida are coming off losses, Guidas to current champ Henderson and Maynards to former champ Edgar. A second loss in a row dramatically reduces that fighters chances of being at the front of Joe Silvas mind when deciding on a challenger for the winner of the Henderson vs Edgar rematch. For the winner, potentially a chance to get straight back in and fight for the strap or at least a #1 challengers match.
British favourite Ross Pearson opens up the Main Card, facing off against tough veteran Cub Swanson. In the other match on the main card a resurgent Brian Ebersole, undefeated since September 2008 and 3-0 in the UFC will face former Shark Fights Champion and submission specialist TJ Waldburger.
Gray Maynard 10 – 1 – 1 (1 NC) vs. Clay Guida 29 – 12 – 0 – Lightweight
This fight sees a rare change of opponent for Maynard, who has grown very accustomed to fighting a certain Mr Edgar in recent years. He has been criticised as being a boring fighter in the past, but styles make fights and I don’t think anyone who watched the Edgar matches would say any were boring. Guida has probably never been in a boring fight in his entire 41 fight career and is sure to bring the best out of “The Bully” once more.
With both men being notoriously hard to put away, a long fight looks likely. As the ex-strikeforce champion, Guida fought twice in 5 round matches, going the distance in both. With his relentless pace and stamina, you get the feeling that it won’t be a problem this time round, despite those strikeforce matches being 6 years ago.
Guida isn’t known for his KO power, but he can hang in the striking game and is incredibly hard to land big on, due to his movement. Maynard packs power in his punches as his previous opponents will attest, but he rarely finds himself capitalising on the knockdowns he scores and hasn’t finished a fight since September 2007. Guida has submissions and scrambles incredibly well, but Maynard has never been submitted in his professional career (although he was choked out by Nick Diaz in TUF 5).
With a finish looking extremely unlikely in this one, it falls to who can make the best of the clinch phases and exert the most control over the 25 minutes. Whilst Maynard is known for his stifling top game, I think Guida will prove to be incredibly hard to pin. His awkward movement and effective scrambling is likely to bamboozle Maynard, as we saw in his matches with Edgar who over almost 45 minutes of fighting in total, frustrated and out-manouevered Maynard very effectively. Guida might fancy his chances of using crazy movement and quick punches to set up a takedown and it will be interesting to see what happens if he gets Maynard on his back, as I fancy Guida to have a much better submission game than Gray.
A winnable fight for ‘The Carpenter’ here I reckon, as he frustrates his opponent with his movement, scores with quick punches without taking too much damage and maybe even hits the odd takedown here and there. It will be extremely tough and Maynard is not one to take lightly, but Guida by decision is my pick.
Sam Stout 17 – 7 – 1 vs.Spencer Fisher 24 – 8 – 0 – Lightweight
The first two fights in this series were absolute classics. Both men first met way back at UFC 58 with Stout eeking a split decision. Fisher got his revenge as the two men headlined UFC fight night 10, taking a unanimous nod from the judges that time. Since that match Stout has gone 6-4 in the UFC taking 3 fight of the night bonuses (in a row!) and a KO of the night win over Yves Edwards. Fisher has not fared quite as well going 4-5 but scoring a sub of the night win over Shannon Gugerty along the way.
Although you might not think this fight would be too different to the others, Fisher is now 36 and although still incredibly durable, he has not looked terribly convincing of-late. Stout is still only 28, and it seems only logical that he is far more likely to stay the course of another punishing fight than his foe on this occasion. Stout has been through a tough time outside the cage this year, with the loss of his friend and mentor Shawn Tompkins weighing heavy on him in his loss to Thiago Tavares. He will look for a statement win here and if ever there was a time to stamp his authority on a fight, it is this one.
Fisher remains an incredibly tough opponent, but if these two stand in the pocket and trade like previous occasions, I expect Fisher to come off worse in the exchanges. Stout isn’t known for any sort of Liddell-esque punching power, but his ability to land consistently on a tiring Fisher will see him through this fight. Stout decision
Brian Ebersole 49 – 14 – 1 vs. T.J. Waldburger 15 – 6 – 0 – Welterweight
This one looks to be a case of whose grappling strategy will best the others, can’t see too much money being put down on this fight throwing up the KO of the night. Ebersole uses strikes as a means to clinch and get the takedowns and his wrestling is actually pretty decent. Waldburger has a similar style, but his wrestling is not up to the standard of Ebersoles. On pure submission skills, the edge goes to Waldburger but he is going to need to get Ebersole on his back to do his best work.
Ebersole will look to use his wrestling to dominate position and open up Waldburger with strikes and is more than capable of getting the stoppage this way. Waldburgers guard game will have to be on-point if he is to fend off the incoming ground assault from his opponent. As well as some impressively man-scaped chest hair, Ebersole brings a phenomenal MMA CV to the fight and he will be able to call on his experience to deal with just about any threat Waldburger can bring, provided he doesn’t get sloppy with his posture and positioning on the ground.
The longer this fight goes, the more it favours the veteran and I like Ebersole for the stoppage late in round 2. Ebersole TKO rd 2
Ross Pearson 13 – 5 – 0 vs. Cub Swanson 16 – 5 – 0 – Featherweight
In the unlikely event that Stout vs Fisher falls flat, look no further than this match for fight of the night. Neither men like to take a backwards step when they fight and will be only too happy to stand and trade with each other and put on a show for the fans. Both fighters have had a patchy win/loss/win/loss rotation in their recent fights, with Pearson only recently making the drop to featherweight after two tough losses to Cole Miller and Edson Barboza. Pearson has crisp, technical boxing and decent wrestling. Swanson favours flashier displays on the feet and uses his athleticism and power to turn fights in his favour.
I see this one playing out mostly on the feet, with both fighters enjoying success with their striking. I think Pearson actually has the wrestling advantage here and will mix up his striking with takedowns. He would be probably be un-wise to mix it up on the ground for too long with Swanson but wearing him down with punches and takedowns is probably the Brits route to the win here. Swanson won’t give him an easy ride, but I think 145 is a great weight for Ross and he will continue to build momentum in this division and be up in the title mix in 2 or 3 fights time. Pearson decision