UFC: Sunderland’s Ross Pearson to steal Atlantic City limelight
A packed couple of days are ahead for UK fight fans with two UFC events this weekend. We buckle up for some hectic Octagon action and preview a pivotal bout for England’s own Ross Pearson...
Gray Maynard may not be everyone’s proverbial cup of tea but when he fights the lightweight division’s upper echelon is invariably affected. Aggressive, abrasive and imposing inside the Octagon Maynard usually gets the job done. Jim Miller, Roger Huerta and Nate Diaz all knew that they had entered the title reckoning as soon as Joe Silva matched them with the Xtreme Couture product. All three were then unceremoniously cast aside via grinding decision wins. Indeed with eight of his past nine fights going to the judges’ scorecards many critics argue that whilst “The Bully” gets the “W” he doesn’t finish fights and therein lies the key to this weekend’s contender bout in Atlantic City.
Maynard will be the physically stronger man against Clay Guida and he knows it. He is also aware however that Guida’s all action style and chain wrestling are not only difficult to counter-act but also pleasing on the eyes of the judges’ octagon-side. Guida is also dangerous for as long as the fight lasts and therefore the cardio issues that Maynard experienced in his two title fights against Frankie Edgar could rear their ugly head in this weekend’s main event on FX. “The Carpenter” knows that by being pitched against Maynard, UFC’s matchmakers are giving him the opportunity to stake his claim to a 155lb title tilt at current champ Benson Henderson.
Whilst Guida is frantic and ferocious with his hands when the opportunity presents itself he may find Maynard’s power shots simply too hot to handle. I believe that Maynard will desperately want a finish in this one and he will get it. “The Bully” has the wrestling chops and punching power to wear on Guida en route to a third round stoppage win.
North-East‘s Pearson’s to gather momentum at featherweight
As much as Maynard and Guida will garner most attention stateside Sunderland’s own Ross Pearson will undoubtedly be the one to watch for British fans this weekend. Having dropped to featherweight Pearson is positioning himself shrewdly to become only the second ever UK fighter to fight for a UFC strap. Having won his debut at 145lbs with a hard fought win over teak tough Brazilian Junior Assuncao, the North-East lad is one to watch in this division. Pearson’s record at lightweight was solid and wins over Denis Siver and Aaron Riley following his TUF success gave “The Real Deal” a strong platform for his featherweight campaign. I believe that Pearson’s push for a title shot will gather considerable momentum in Atlantic City. Swanson is the right test at the right time for the former bricklayer and should bring out the best in him. Swanson will want to scrap on the feet as his penchant for a phone booth war is no secret. Pearson will do well to adhere to the old adage of “boxing the brawler” and not get dragged into a war of attrition against the gutsy Greg Jackson pupil. I cannot envisage anything other than a resounding victory for the self effacing judo brown belt from the North-East. I believe he will finish Swanson in the third round via submission and in so doing place himself into a title eliminator bout later this year.
Stout to triumph over The King?
Sam Stout’s battle with Spencer fisher is another bout which will be vying for fight of the night honours in Atlantic City. With two of the lightweight divisions most talented stand up artists locked at 1-1, their trilogy defining meeting is much anticipated. Sometimes fighters are destined to campaign at the mid-tier in their respective weight classes and simply be participants in entertaining fan friendly fights. Stout and Fisher fit into just such a category. Both are well versed in the stand-up realm and rarely involved in a boring fight and this weekend’s rubber match will be another back and forth affair. Both men will be anxious to sign off on their celebrated rivalry with the win but I believe that Stout has the edge in terms of youth, speed and technical striking. Eight years Fisher’s junior, “Hands of Stone” is more clinical in his execution and has improved more in the five years since they last locked horns. I believe that Stout will edge another three round war.
Ace to silence Brazilian crucible?
Once proceedings in Atlantic City are concluded attention will turn to Belo Horizonte, Brazil for UFC 147. Rich Franklin has stepped in for the injured Vitor Belfort and will look to once again overcome Wanderlei Silva in a main event bout. Franklin will be up against it for several reasons in South America this weekend. He is taking the bout on short notice, is fighting in his opponent’s backyard and has admitted that he is entering the final furlong of a storied career and so motivation may be a factor.
Silva will of course be eager to give his Brazilian fans a stirring win in similar fashion to fellow Brazilian veteran “Big Nog” at UFC 134 in Rio. He will be keen to replicate his aggressive and impressive victory over Cung Le in his last outing. On this occasion however I believe that Silva will come up short against Franklin in a similar manner to another MMA icon, Chuck Liddell. I believe that Silva will perform well in the early exchanges but eventually over commit in his striking, presenting Franklin with a knock-out victory somewhere in the second round.
Join us next week when we will be taking a look at UFC Nottingham with London Bantamweight Brad “One Punch” Pickett.
Click here to check out my new “In the Octagon” column in Japan’s The Asahi Shimbun where I take a look at a big night for Hatsu Hioki and find out more about BJ Penn’s motivation for his upcoming Octagon return…
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