By: William Holmes
I’m one of the few writers that covers boxing and is also a big fan of MMA. Most in the boxing industry look at MMA with disgust, and consider it to be an unnecessarily violent sport that requires little skill to succeed.
They couldn’t be more wrong.
I actually got to write my first article for fightopinion.com, a website focused solely on MMA. While covering world title fights such as Pacquiao vs. Bradley, Hopkins vs. Dawson, Ward vs. Froch, Judah vs. Paris, and Khan vs. Peterson live, I’ve also managed to squeeze in a few MMA shows in Atlantic City.
I contacted the owner of the site Larry Goldberg like I normally do about sending in a letter of assignment for the UFC. He muttered something about losing his passes and told me not to put in with no real answer on his part. I found this strange since the site has covered MMA for years and I have covered Bellator numerous times, as well as regional promotional powerhouses Ring of Combat and Cage Fury Fighting Championships.
But I’m a rare breed in the boxing industry. I’m a big fan of MMA and respect the sport immensely. I’ll be at the fight on Friday, but as a paying fan with no BoxingInsider.com credential wrapped around my neck.
I still couldn’t be more excited to see the UFC in my backyard. In a city that has so much history with the sport of MMA, it’s only fitting that the UFC returns after reaching their goal of landing a network television deal.
The following is a preview of the televised fights for the UFC on FX 4 event.
Ross Pearson (13-5) vs. Cub Swanson (16-5); Featherweight Division
Ross Pearson is best known for winning the Ultimate Fighter in 2009 against Andre Winner. He’s in his prime, and has recently dropped to the featherweight division after finding mixed results in the lightweight division. He has 3 KO/TKO’s, 5 submissions, and 5 decisions on his record, so he finishes most of his fights. He’s a strong swinger, in that he often throws with abandon with little regard for his safety.
However, as with most MMA fighters from across the pond, Pearson’s weakness is his ground game. He’s been matched up well so far in his UFC career in that he has yet to face a top notch wrestler. He’s 3-2 in his last five fights, with a strong decision victory over Dennis Siver, but an upset submission loss to Cole Miller and a split decision loss to Edson Barboza which forced Pearson down a weight class to compete in the featherweight division. He won his first fight in the featherweight division against Junior Assuncao in December of 2011.
Cub Swanson fights out of Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts, one of the top MMA camps in the country. He has 5 KO/TKO, 7 submissions, and 4 decisions on his record. He has had mixed success in the UFC/WEC, and has gone 3-3 in his last six fights. He lost to Chad Mendes and Jose Aldo while fighting for the WEC, and he has gone 1-1 in the UFC.
Cub Swanson is the last person of note that Jens Pulver defeated.
Pearson should have little difficulty in keeping the fight standing where he has the advantage over Swanson. I’ll be surprised if Swanson is able to survive all three rounds.
Brian Ebersole (49-14-1) vs. T.J. Waldburger (15-6); Welterweight Division
When you look at Brian Ebersole’s record, you’d think he’s a fighter approaching 50. He’s only 31, but is a veteran who toiled on the regional circuit before finally making it to the UFC. He’s a well-rounded fighter with an awkward standup style.
Ebersole’s last loss was to Bellator Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard in 2008. Just the fact that he was able to take larger Lombard to the fourth round is impressive. What’s more impressive is the undefeated streak he’s been on since then. He’s won his last ten fights, and they include victories over Carlos Newton, Chris Lytle, Dennis Hallman, and Claude Patrick
T.J. Waldburger is seven years Ebersole’s junior, and does not even have half the fight experience of his opponent. He’s a submission specialist, as 12 of his 15 victories have come by submission. He’s gone 3-1 in his UFC career, with his only loss being to the red hot Johny Hendricks. He won his last two fights by submission.
If Waldburger is going to win he’s going to have to take the fight to the ground. Ebersole is way too experienced to get caught in a submission, and he should be able to use his experience to pull out a decision victory.
Sam Stout (17-7-1) vs. Spencer Fisher (24-8); Lightweight Division
Trilogies will often make fighters famous. Manny Pacquiao started his ascent to the top after his trilogy with Erik Morales. The trilogy between Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward cemented their legacies. Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher look to finish their trilogy after fighting each other and going 1-1 in two exciting stand up wars.
This fight was clearly made with the intent of giving the television audience a standup battle to salivate over. Sam Stout has not looked the same since the death of his trainer Shawn Tompkins. He has 9 KO/TKOs and only 1 submission to his record, so it’s not hard to guess where his strength is. He’s only fought twice in the past two years, a loss to Thiago Tavares in January of 2012, and a KO victory over Yves Edwards in 2011. The last time Sam Stout fought Fisher he lost by decision.
Spencer Fisher has never been a fighter to seriously challenge for a title, but has always been a fighter the UFC could rely on to entertain the crowd. He’s more well-rounded than Stout. He has 10 KO/TKOs and 9 submissions on his record. But he’s 36, and he has lost his last two fights. Fisher in fact has gone 1-4 in his last five fights.
Stout should win against Fisher, but it won’t be easy. The only thing that will be guaranteed is a standup war between these two veterans.
Gray Maynard (10-1-1) vs. Clay Guida (29-12); Lightweight Division
A little known fact about Clay Guida is that over half of his victories have come by way of submission. Another little known fact is that Clay Guida was the first Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
What Guida is known for is being an all action fighter who seems to never take a break. He has never suffered a loss by KO or TKO, which is extremely impressive considering the fact that he has over 40 fights, and has fought for the UFC since 2006. Guida has gone 4-1 in his past five fights, with impressive victories over Takanori Gomi and Anthony Pettis, and a tough decision loss to Benson Henderson in November of 2011.
He doesn’t have overly impressive ability in any facet of the MMA game, but his style gives fighters fits. He bounces in and out throwing punches from all angles, and is extremely difficult to time.
Gray Maynard is incredibly strong for a lightweight, but is not exactly the most exciting fighter on the UFC fighter. He has 10 victories, and 8 of them have come by decision. Even though Maynard only has 14 fights to his resume, 12 of them have been for the UFC. He’s fought the best in the lightweight division, including Frankie Edgar (3x), Kenny Florian, Nate Diaz, and Roger Huerta. He holds victories over Edgar, Florian, Diaz, and Huerta.
He fought for the title twice against Edgar because very few fighters in the lightweight division can handle the wrestling ability of Maynard. However, his last loss against Edgar was the type of loss that could set a fighter backwards in his progression. It’s been nearly nine months since that loss, so Maynard should have had plenty of time to recuperate from the KO defeat.
Guida will not be an easy fight for Maynard, but Maynard should come away with the victory. I wouldn’t expect anything surprising, as Guida has never been KO or TKO and Maynard is not known for finishing fights. Maynard should win by decision, and maybe he’ll get another shot at the title soon as long as Edgar is not the champion.