UFC on FX 4: Preview and Predictions
By Tom Taylor
This weekend, MMA fans will receive a rare treat, as the UFC hosts two shows in as many nights. First on the docket is UFC on FX 4, which goes down in Atlantic City this Friday. Headlined by a scrap between lightweight contenders Clay Guida and Gray Maynard, Friday night’s fights will be followed by UFC 147, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, anchored by a middleweight clash between legends Wanderlei Silva and Rich Franklin.
Early on, UFC 147 looked to be a star-laden card, but following a slew of fighter injuries, the event is now a shell of its original self. Following its collapse, 147 has been criticized and bastardized by MMA fans worldwide. While this card might now seem empty of interesting matchups, the same cannot be said for UFC on FX 4, which is peppered with promising fights between contenders, veterans, up-and-comers, and fan favourites.
Here’s what you might expect from the event’s exciting main card:
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (29-12-0) vs. Gray “The Bully” Maynard (10-1-1).
While Guida and Maynard are both coming off losses to Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar respectively, both are still just a stone’s throw from title fights in the UFC lightweight division. In Guida and Maynard, we have two men whose roots lie in wrestling. Despite their common starting point, however, their styles in the cage are quite different. Guida, whose wild locks are recognizable to even the most casual MMA fans, has become a fan favourite for his relentlessness inside the cage. Over the course of his 15-fight UFC career, he has shown time and again that he likes to set a pace that would make a humming-bird feel slow, relying on speed and cardio to overwhelm his opponents. Maynard on the other hand, fights, as his nickname suggests, by bullying his adversaries with his size, strength, and wrestling. Both men have been criticized for their wrestling-heavy styles, but expect this match to be exciting, just as their most recent fights were.
Maynard will likely control the opening portion of this fight, as he attempts to corner Guida, and forbid him from turning on the ignition to his patented breakneck pace. Look for Maynard to attempt to take off his opponent’s head off during this period, as he tries to right his ship following his recent knockout loss to Frankie Edgar. While Maynard will likely find success early on, perhaps even wobbling his long-haired opponent, it should only be a matter of time before Guida slips through Maynard’s net and begins buzzing around the cage like a windup toy. At this point, expect Guida to latch onto Maynard, wearing him down with short shots and takedown attempts, while relying on his sturdy chin to absorb Maynard’s attacks. In the later rounds, Guida will be glued to Maynard like a leech, all the while unleashing an assault of wild, stinging punches. It’s unlikely that either fighter will be able to put the other away during the course of this scrap. Both have ample experience fighting elite competition, and neither is a notorious finisher, so this fight should make it to the end of the fifth round.
The pick: This fight might look atypical of Guida’s usual fights—Maynard’s camp has requested that Guida tie his hair back for the fight—so while Guida might look less like the Tasmanian devil this time around, his usual frantic pace and refusal to play Maynard’s game will be enough to win him a split decision victory.
Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout (17-7-1) vs. Spencer “The King” Fisher (24-8-0)
UFC on FX 4’s lightweight main event will be supported by a lightweight co-main event, as Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher meet for a third time inside the octagon. While their trilogy might not be as famous as those of Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson or Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, the first two bouts of their three-fight saga were extremely entertaining. We can expect their third encounter to be the same, regardless of who the winner is.
The first time these two men met, Sam Stout emerged the victor, earning a split decision win at UFC 58. The following year, in 2007, at UFC Fight Night 10, Fisher won a unanimous decision victory. Considering their even records against one another, it was just a matter of time before a third fight between them was signed. Yet despite their history, their last encounter was over five years ago. In a sport that requires its athletes to be constantly evolving, it’s safe to assume that both Stout and Fisher have grown as fighters since then. At this point in their respective careers, however, it is Stout who looks the fresher fighter. In his last fight, Stout lost a unanimous decision victory to Thiago Tavares. Before that, however, he displayed the power that earned him is nickname, leveling Yves Edwards with one of the most devastating knockouts of 2009. Fisher has won just one of his past five fights, while Stout has managed to win three of his last five. Given that this meeting will be their third and final, we can expect both men to come out with guns blazing, looking to make their trilogy one of the most memorable ever. Both are experienced veterans, and staples of the UFC lightweight division, so expect these wily fighters to make every punch count. While both men find their marks early, Stout will find a home for his powerful punches more frequently, eventually with fight-ending implications.
The Pick: In a gripping third meeting between the two lightweights, Stout wins by third round TKO.
Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole (49-14-1) vs. TJ Waldburger (15-6)
Clay Guida’s flowing locks won’t be the only famous hair on UFC on FX 4 main card. Before Guida enters the cage against Maynard in the main event, Brian Ebersole, and his trademark “hairrow,” an upwards facing arrow shaved into his chest hair, will enter the cage to fight jiu jitsu ace TJ Waldburger in a welterweight affair.
The variables in this fight seem straightforward. Can Waldburger, owner of some seriously slick jiu jitsu, wrap up one of veteran Ebersole’s extremities and snag a submission win? On the other hand, might we see Ebersole’s lofty experience lead to total outclassing of his young opponent? Ebersole’s career, after all, spans some 65 fights according to most sources. According to Ebersole, however, the actual number is probably somewhere in the high seventies. Regardless, it’s a safe bet that, over his lengthy career, he has faced other jiu jitsu specialists—Waldburger will not be his first. Then again, Waldburger is no ordinary grappler, as he has secured 12 of his 15 career wins by submission. Ebersole’s experience and Waldburger’s jiu jitsu are not the only X-factors in this fight however: Ebersole has spent pieces of his training camp in not one, not two, but three countries. For this fight, he has trained in Australia and Thailand, as well as Vegas, and Illinois. While the majority of Ebersole’s training has occurred in the U.S., it is not hard to imagine a scenario where his globetrotting has adverse affects on his performance. But again, Ebersole’s experience seems to be the antidote to this variable. We can be certain this isn’t his first international training camp.
All things considered, when this fight goes down, expect Ebersole to try keeping the fight standing, and Waldburger to attempt to ground the fight as soon as possible. In the end, Ebersole will have an easier time keeping the fight on the feet than Waldburger will bringing it to the ground. Look for Ebersole to land unpredictable shots early on, including his famous cartwheel kick, as he gradually lessens Waldburger’s will to win by hitting him. If Ebersole is successful in keeping this fight standing, it should just be a matter of time before he hurts Waldburger, chases him to the ground and seals the deal.
The Pick: Ebersole avoids the impressive jiu jitsu of Waldburger en route to winning a second-round TKO stoppage.
Cub Swanson (16-5-0) vs. Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson (13-5-0)
This fight will mark The Ultimate Fighter winner Ross Pearson’s second fight at featherweight since dropping down to the division from lightweight. While Pearson was successful in his first fight at 145 lbs, in his sophomore challenge in the new weight class, he will be tested by the always game Cub Swanson. Pearson will be looking to prove his legitimacy at featherweight, while Swanson will be looking to reinstate himself as a contender in the division following a recent hot and cold streak. In his last fight, Swanson levelled George Roop in the second round of their fight at UFC on Fox 2. Before that win, he was just 3-3 in his last six. Two consecutive wins is something Swanson has not tasted since 2008—and it’s something he’ll hope to achieve by beating Pearson. This will be no easy task however, as the Brit Pearson has proven durable and lionhearted.
Both Pearson and Swanson are hungry for a win, albeit for different reasons. Look for both men to seek gun for a knockout, as their fight unfolds primarily on the feet. While Swanson was able to showcase his hands against Roop, Pearson has shown he also knows his way around a stand-up fight. Despite losing by split decision to lightweight striker Edson Barboza, In this fight Pearson reminded the world of his status as a proficient striker. In the end, while neither man is a slouch on the feet, Pearson will land the more important shots throughout the bout, outclassing Swanson round by round.
The Pick: Pearson will throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Swanson, but Swanson will not go down. Despite the Brit’s best efforts throughout a lopsided fight, he will not be able to put Swanson away, and will go on to secure a unanimous decision victory.