UFC on FX 4: Maynard vs Guida Preview
Featuring some good fights, including an important lightweight scrap between Gray Maynard and Clay Guida, UFC on FX 4 this Friday night is your best bet for great MMA action this weekend.
And best of all, it's free.
After the jump, we'll look at some previews and predictions for Friday night's overlooked UFC card.
TUF Season 9 Winner Ross Pearson Meets Cub Swanson in Featherweight Tilt
Although neither Ross Pearson or Cub Swanson are huge names in the UFC, both guys are known for gritty, entertaining performances. This should be a great opening fight of the night between two tough fighters.
Cub Swanson (16-5) is coming off an impressive knockout victory over featherweight gatekeeper George Roop this January.
Swanson turned heads by flooring Roop with a vicious right that left Roop stiff on the canvas and sending the unconscious fighter's mouthguard spinning through the air like something from a video game.
Swanson's record has been pretty spotty over the last few years, alternating three wins and three losses over his last six fights while losing to some of the division's best fighters. He's been on UFC champion Jose Aldo's highlight reel since 2009, when Swanson was knocked out in stunning fashion by a pair of ridiculous flying knees.
Still, Swanson is a very solid featherweight fighter who has put on some great matches.
Ross Pearson (13-5) is most famous for winning Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter as a lightweight back in 2009. Unfortunately for Pearson, winning a season of TUF is becoming less and less impressive as the years go on, and after losing a close split decision to striker Edson Barboza at UFC 135, Pearson decided to try his hand in the promotion's newly-minted 145-pound division.
In his featherweight debut, Pearson gutted out a decent unanimous decision victory over a game Junior Assuncāo. Friday night, he'll look to earn his second win as a featherweight.
Both Pearson and Swanson are good, but not great, fighters, with balanced but unspectacular talents. Still, they tend to bring a good fight, as shown by their four combined Fight of the Night performances throughout their last 10 fights.
These guys bring it everytime, and I hope they will open the night in great fashion.
The fight is a bit of a pick-em match, but I think Swanson's experience and blitzing style will probably earn him a victory over Pearson, who probably holds a strength and wrestling advantage. Both guys are hard to knock out, and fans could end watching one of those great, buzzing matches that make the lower weight classes so great.
Prediction: Swanson by Decision (or just flip a coin)
Brian Ebersole Takes on TJ Waldburger in Exciting Welterweight Fight
Usually, it's a bad thing if you are most famous for the stupid patterns you shave into your chest hair.
But even so, Brian Ebersole (49-14-1) has done pretty well for himself since he seemingly came out of nowhere and took the UFC's welterweight division by storm. Accepting a late-notice fight against Chris Lytle at UFC 127, Ebersole derailed the fan-favourite's title aspirations and came away with a dominant unanimous decision victory. His effort earned him Fight of the Night honours and an immediate place in the ever-stacked welterweight division.
Since then, he's rattled off two more wins inside the Octagon, destroying Dennis Hallman's banana hammock via TKO and taking another solid decision against Claude Patrick.
Ebersole brings an energetic fighting style featuring solid wrestling and unorthodox striking. When he's at his best, Ebersole brings a frenetic, fan-friendly pace that tends to overwhelm his opponents.
He also has one of the sport's great chins since he has never been knocked out or TKO'd in a staggering 65 career fights.
No matter who he's facing, Ebersole brings a fun, energetic match.
TJ Waldburger (15-6) is a young, fairly unknown fighter with an incredible ground game.
The numbers are pretty staggering. Out of his 15 career wins, 12 have come by way of submission.
If he's smart, Ebersole will want to stay away from this kid's ground game.
Waldburger scored a brilliant victory over Jake Hecht back in March, flipping his opponent on the mat and locking in a nasty armbar that made Hecht scream in pain.
Other than his ground game, Waldburger has some serious chinks in his armour. It's never good to have five of your six losses come by way of knockout. It's even worse when you're only 24 years of age and thinking about the longevity of your career in one of the world's most brutal sports.
Assuming that Ebersole wants to stay away from Waldburger's submission game, he must feel pretty confident that he score another knockout victory for his resume.
Still, if Waldburger can find some success on the ground, he could definitely pull off a submission win over his stronger, more experienced opponent.
In the end, I have to think that Ebersole has this one in the bag. He's a very strong, smart fighter with a ton of experience under his belt. He also had good wrestling and should be able to keep this one standing, where he can proceed to dominate Waldburger on the feet.
Overall, a compelling matchup that should deliver fireworks.
Prediction: Ebersole by Unanimous Decision
Sam Stout Faces Spencer Fisher in Promising Trilogy Match
In this rubber match five years in the making, UFC veterans Sam Stout and Spencer will meet in the Octagon for a third time (and probably final) time.
The first fight between the two men back at UFC 58 is considered an early classic in the lightweight division. It was a closely contested bout that saw Sam Stout come away with a split decision victory.
Sam Stout (17-7-1) underwent a bit of a career resurgence over the last few years and was looking to earn himself a spot near the top of the division before losing a decision to Thiago Tavares at UFC 142. Still, Stout is a tough fighter, with a good power game that looks to control his opponents with jabs and kicks.
He isn't really know for his finishing power in the UFC (he only has one stoppage victory in 12 UFC bouts). But even so, he is a fairly consistent fighter that uses his crisp striking to earn gutsy victories. In his last six fights, Stout has three Fight of the Night bonuses and one Knockout of the Night.
And at 28 years old, Stout probably has a lot more left in the tank than his rapidly deteriorating opponent.
Spencer "The King" Fisher (24-8) has been a gatekeeper of the UFC's lightweight division for years now, but he's found himself in a potentially career-ending slump.
It's never good for a small-name UFC fighter to lose four of your last five fights, and it is pretty certain that another loss to Stout this Friday night would spell the end of Fisher's long UFC career.
At 37 years of age, Fisher is entering the last years of his fight career and should have his hands full with the much younger Stout.
While this mostly-forgotten trilogy fight sounds great on paper, there should be some concerns going into the bout. Sam Stout has had some success over the last few years, and looks to be a pretty solid gatekeeper in the UFC's 155-pound division. On the other hand, Fisher looks to be one loss away from getting his walking papers.
Here's the thing: the first two Stout-Fisher fights were extremely fun and competitive. But those fights both happened when Stout was still a very young athlete and Fisher was in his prime.
Now that Fisher's skills have deteriorated, it's hard for me to imagine this fight being as closely-contested as the first two.
But in MMA, you never really know (just look at Melendez-Thomson 3, an extremely close fight that most pundits predicted to be a one-sided beatdown).
Still, I can't imagine many ways for Fisher to pull out a victory on Friday night, and I see Stout ending their trilogy with another win.
Prediction: Stout via Unanimous Decision
Gray Maynard and Clay Guida Battle at the Top of the Lightweight Division
Gray "The Bully" Maynard (10-1-1) is fresh off a pair of epic bouts with Frankie Edgar that saw him lay waste the former champion but still come up short.
Psychologically, those bouts must have been hard for "The Bully," since both times, he was inches away from earning a UFC title, only to watch Edgar rally for a draw and a TKO win.
There's no doubt that Maynard's heavy-handed style and world-class wrestling makes him a dominant force in the UFC's lightweight division, and he is looking to make his mark with another great bout against fan-favourite Clay Guida this Friday night.
Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (29-12) is famous for his frenetic, high-energy style and his swinging locks of (greasy) hair.
But fans of Guida's hairdo might be a little let down Friday night, since "The Carpenter" has agreed to tame his famous locks into a braid, as per the request of his opponent's camp.
Apparently, wild hair is something "The Bully" doesn't want to push around.
Guida is a pretty solid wrestler himself, but there's no doubt that Maynard will hold both a grappling and power advantage on Friday night.
I have a hard time imagining Guida powering Maynard to the mat and keeping him there.
But the good news for Guida fans is that "The Carpenter" is notoriously hard to hit. He incorporates numerous faints and ducks, always remaining a moving target.
Still, Maynard should also hold an advantage on the feet, so long as "The Bully" doesn't try to bull-rush Guida. If Maynard has fallen in with his power and looks to wing huge uppercuts at Guida, he might see himself come up short on yet another decision.
After all, a gassed Maynard is a sloppy Maynard.
I have learned over the years never to count Guida out. The hairy spitfire has often found a way to win fights that he had no business winning. He's a tough, gutsy fighter that could certainly use his frenetic pace to gas the much bigger Maynard and earn himself a huge win.
But so long as Maynard fights smart, he holds an advantage over Guida almost anywhere the fight goes. I see him using his superior wrestling to control Guida and gut out a decision.
Prediction: Maynard via Unanimous Decision
UFC on FX 4: Final Impressions
Featuring some decent scraps and an important main event, UFC on FX 4 looks to deliver a solid night of fights on cable TV.
Considering Saturday night's PPV card looks even worse on paper than this free event, you might want to save your cash and just tune into FX Friday night for your weekly fight fix.
On top of the savings benefits, Pearson fighting Swanson has the potential to become another great featherweight tilt, and Brian Ebersole has a history of bringing fun fights.
And while Stout-Fisher 3 has potential to be a classic, I'm not so sure that Fisher's skills have held up over the years. Even so, it could turn out great.
Of all the fights on the UFC's two weekend cards, Maynard-Guida is easily the most relevant, with both men scrapping for a spot atop the UFC's stacked 155-pound division.
So if you're looking for something to watch this weekend, UFC on FX 4 is easily your best bet for value and entertainment.