Second fight, second TUF Season Nine winner stepping into the cage.
While James "Lightning" Wilks doesn't have as difficult a match-up as countryman and lightweight winner Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson, the welterweight winner faces a stiff test in fellow TUF alum Matt Brown.
Despite not advancing past the quarterfinals of Season Seven, "The Immortal" has joined "Crazy" Tim Credeur as the true breakout stars of that particular season, earning a 3-1 record and enhancing his reputation as a gritty competitor who is hard to put away.
James Wilks (6-2) vs. Matt Brown (10-7)
This matchup is actually a much less one-sided affair than yesterday's bout between Ross Pearson and Aaron Riley.
Where Riley dominated every aspect on paper, Wilks showed enough throughout his journey to becoming The Ultimate Fighter to make this an interesting pairing.
Camp-wise, Brown wins hands down, training with Team Jorge Gurgel , while Wilks operates his own Lightning MMA gym.
Outside of a select few top-tier fighters, working on your own just doesn't make that much sense; everyone needs someone pushing you to take your game to the next level, championship-caliber competitors included.
On the experience front, Brown certainly has the edge inside the Octagon and under the bright lights of the UFC stage, but Wilks is no slouch.
To make it onto Season Nine in the first place, Wilks scored an upset over Che Mills, a fighter some (read: this guy) thought would excel on the show. While Mills is far from a household name in North America, he's a well-respected fighter in the UK and holds two wins over DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix winner and recent Strikeforce signee Marius "Whitemare" Zaromskis.
From there, the eventual welterweight winner dominated Frank Lester on back-to-back occasions before submitting DeMarques Johnson on the finale to secure his six-figure deal.
Some (again: this guy) would argue that Brown has yet to taste defeat since coming off Season Seven, as his lone loss came via tight split decision to Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 88 in a fight some feel Brown had won.
Still, 3-1 in the UFC is better than finalist C.B. Dollaway and head-and-shoulders ahead of winner Amir Sadollah.
Additionally, Brown will be fighting with an angel on his shoulder come Saturday night, as this bout will mark the first time inside the cage since losing his father to cancer back in September.
Stylistically, Wilks should be looking to use the submission skills he demonstrated during his time inside The Ultimate Fighter house, bringing the fight to Brown and working from in tight.
Conversely, Brown has done very well when given space and has solid striking - just ask Pete Sell. Those he is continually improving on the ground, his Muay Thai is still his strong suit and to be effective, he'll need to keep Wilks at a distance.
Could the UFC have given their most recent welterweight winner an easier task? Absolutely; Brown has all the abilities needed to cut Wilks' coming out party short in a hurry.
That being said, this matchup is way more appetizing than the opener and could end up being the Fight of the Night.
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