The UFC train continues to roll on with another historic weekend for the world’s largest MMA promotion. The UFC will hold events on back to back nights for the first time ever, and beyond all of that, they’re going to do it in two different countries. The first event is UFC on FX 4 live from the Revel Casino in Atlantic City on Friday night.
The main event features a five round Lightweight bout between two top contenders in Gray Maynard and Clay Guida. Both fighters are coming off of losses, but they were to the former Lightweight champion and the reigning Lightweight champion as Maynard last lost to Frankie Edgar at UFC 136 and it will be Guida’s first bout since losing a number one contender’s bout to current champ Benson Henderson at the first UFC on FOX event.
Three other bouts will be featured on the FX Main Card including the trilogy bout between Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher. Although this Lightweight class will have very little impact on the title rankings, it will likely be a high-octane brawl that is likely to win the Fight of the Night honors. Kicking off the main card is a Featherweight bout between Ross Pearson and the recently resurgent Cub Swanson. The other is a Welterweight bout between veteran fighter Brian Ebersole and TJ Waldburger. The rest of the preliminary card airs either on Facebook or on Fuel TV.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Ken Stone vs. Dustin Pague
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Dan Miller vs. Ricardo Funch
Dan Miller is the older brother of Lightweight fighter Jim Miller. He is a former Middleweight who is making the cut to Welterweight for the first time. Unfortunately he’s doing it on a two fight losing skid. Miller is a fairly well rounded fighter, but doesn’t really excel at any particular facet of MMA. His ground game is pretty solid, but his striking is fairly basic and sloppy. He holds a career record of 13-6. Ricardo “Golden Boy” Funch is a Brazilian fighter from Bahia, Brazil who now trains with Team Link in Ludlow, Massachusetts. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt but that’s about the extent of his talents. Funch is not a strong wrestler and likely won’t have the ability to out strike Miller on the feet. He holds a career record of 8-3. Dan Miller via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Matt Brown vs. Luis Ramos
Matt “The Immortal” Brown is an American fighter and a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter. Brown is actually a fairly competent grappler with backgrounds in BJJ and Judo, however once the cage door closes he usually foregoes those skills for a striking based attack. This willingness to engage any and all comers on the feet has earned him a rocky record, but the adoration of fans and the bigwigs in the UFC as he is one of the more entertaining fighters on the UFC’s Welterweight roster. He holds a career record of 14-11. Luis “Beicao” Ramos is a Brazilian fighter from the Nova Uniao camp in his home country. Ramos is a former Shooto Brazil champion who is a ground based fighter whose game relies on taking his opponents down and controlling them from the top. That is exactly the kind of fighter that has given Brown problems in the past and this could be an upset in the making. Luis Ramos via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Nick Catone vs. Chris Camozzi
Nick “The Jersey Devil” Catone is an American fighter who will be fighting in his home state of New Jersey. He is a member of the Gracie/Almeida Fight Team in Hamilton, New Jersey. Catone is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and a BJJ brown belt who relies on wrestling and top control in his bouts. A torn Achilles forced him out of the cage for over a year and this is his first bout since March of 2011. He holds a career record of 9-2. Chris “Kamikaze” Camozzi is an American fighter who trains with the factory X Gym in Lakewood, Colorado. Camozzi is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter who is very well rounded but has struggled against some of the upper-tier of Middleweight fighters in the UFC. Camozzi is still a tough draw for any one, and holds a career record of 16-5. Nick Catone via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Rick Story vs. Brock Jardine
Rick “The Horror” Story is an American fighter from Tacoma, Washington. Story’s fight game usually revolves around his wrestling ability. He does his best work when he’s able to take his opponents down and control them from top position. His stand up is decent, but he mostly uses it as a tool to close distance and work for takedowns so that he is not left shooting from the outside. Story has struggled in the past against opponents who don’t allow Story to take them down. He holds a career record of 13-5. Brock “The Machine” Jardine is an American fighter from the Pit Fight Team. Jardine is a top prospect at 170-pounds but will be making his promotional debut on short-notice due to the injury bug that has been plaguing the UFC all summer. He is a quality fighter with his lone career defeat coming against TUF winner Tony Ferguson. Jardine holds a career record of 9-1. Rick Story via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Steven Siler vs. Joey Gambino
“Super” Steven Siler is an American fighter from Anaheim, California. He is a former cast-member of the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Siler is another member of the Pit Elevated Fight Team. Siler lost to eventual show winner Diego Brandao, but has earned two straight victories in the UFC since his time on the show. He holds a career record of 20-9. Joey “The Raging Warrior” Gambino is an undefeated promotional newcomer who is making his debut as an injury replacement for JImy Hettes. Gambino is a strong wrestler from the Tristar Gym and trains with a top-level team. Gambino will be at a reach and size disadvantage but should hold a significant grappling edge if he can wrestle Silar to the mat. Joey Gambino via Submission in Round Two
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Ramsey Nijem vs. C.J. Keith
Ramsey Nijem is a former The Ultimate Fighter finalist on the thirteenth season of the show. Nijem is a member of the Riven Academy in Orem, Utah. Nijem is a strong wrestler with an excellent top game. His striking is fairly mediocre, but he throws with bad intentions and can definitely connect with power. Nijem holds a career record of 5-2. C.J. Keith is a promotional newcomer who is from Porterville, California. He is a member of the Pro Buhawe Fight Team and is an undefeated prospect. This will not only be his octagon debut, but it will also be his first bout outside of his hometown of Porterville. He holds a perfect professional record of 8-0. Ramsey Nijem via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas
First off, let me say that I am unsure why this fight is being buried on the undercard. It is the final preliminary card bout, so there is a chance that it gets shown on FX, but Hioki is widely considered to be the top contender to Jose Aldo, but actually turned down a fight with the champion, to get better acclimated fighting inside a cage. I would think that the UFC would try to showcase the possible next contender, but perhaps not. Either way, let’s look at the fight.
Hatsu “Iron Boom” Hioki is a Japanese fighter and the number two-ranked Featherweight fighter in the world. He is a member of the ALIVE Shooto Gym in Nagoya, Japan and also trains in North America at the Tristar Gym. Hioki is a BJJ black belt, with competent striking skills and strong takedowns. Hioki is a former Shooto and Sengoku Champion. He holds a career record of 26-4-2. Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas is an American fighter from Chicago, Illinois. He is a member of the Top Notch MMA Gym in Elmhurst, Illinois. He is a former NCAA Division 3 wrestler, who uses his wrestling skills well in his fights. He prefers to use takedowns and grind his opponents from top position. His best bet against Hioki will likely be to try and outwrestle Hioki, as that has proven to be a bit of a weak spot in Hioki’s armour in the past. Lamas holds a career record of 11-2. Hatsu Hioki via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Ross Pearson vs. Cub Swanson
Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson is a British fighter from Sunderland, England. He is a former winner of the US vs. UK version of The Ultimate Fighter in the Lightweight division who has since made the cut to Featherweight. Pearson is a fairly well rounded fighter who despite his solid grappling credentials (black belt in Tae Kwan Do and brown belt in Judo) prefers to strike for the majority of his bouts. It’s hard to argue with his results, as he’s rarely if ever been completely outclassed in a kickboxing match up. Pearson has solid boxing skills with a strong jab and excellent footwork and a strong chin which allows him to stand in the pocket and trade. Pearson’s best bet for this bout may just be to counterpunch effectively, as Swanson is known to get wild and reckless at times which would open him up for Pearson’s excellent counter combinations. Pearson holds a career record of 13-5.
Cub Swanson is an American fighter from Palm Springs, California. Swanson is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Swanson like his opponent is much more well rounded than most give him credit for. His ground game is decent and although he’s not an expert at fighting off of his back, he has solid submission awareness when he is in top control and has 7 victories by way of tap out. Swanson is also well known for his extremely aggressive striking and his capoeira inspired kicks. Swanson is likely going to be the quicker more agile fighter on fight night, but will likely be at a size and strength disadvantage. Swanson has a career record 16-5.
Prediction and Analysis: Many people are billing this bout as a boxer vs. brawler type of bout and that kind of sums it up. Swanson doesn’t always brawl, but he’s been drawn into them before. That type of fight benefits Pearson who is the larger fighter and the better boxer, so he’d rather stick it out in the pocket and slug away. Swanson hits harder, but Pearson has a hell of a chin and isn’t likely to be stopped by punches. It’s likely going to be closer than a lot of people anticipate, but I think Pearson wins more of the exchanges and takes home a Unanimous Decision. Ross Pearson via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Brian Ebersole vs. TJ Waldburger
Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole is a 31-year-old veteran of the sport of MMA with 65 career bouts. Ebersole is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Indiana. Ebersole has traveled the world to add to his training. He has fought as heavy as Heavyweight throughout his career, but is currently riding a ten-fight winning streak in the Welterweight division. Ebersole currently fights out of the ESS Performance Gym in Melbourne, Australia. Ebersole’s bread and butter is his wrestling, as he uses takedowns and ground and pound to negate the strengths of his opponents. Ebersole is also extremely durable and has never been knocked out in 65 career bouts, it’s a trend that Waldburger is unlikely to break. Ebersole holds a career record of 49-14-1 with 1 No Contest.
TJ Waldburger is an American fighter from Temple, Texas. Waldburger is a grappling based fighter with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who mainly relies on his submission game inside the cage. He is a member of the Grappler’s Lair in his hometown. Waldburger has twelve career victories by way of Submission and Ebersole has 9 losses via Submission, so that may be a good sign for Waldburger supporters. Waldburger has a slightly awkward striking style, he throws everything with bad intentions, but often leaves himself in precarious positions where he is susceptible to takedowns and big counter punches. Against a solid wrestler with big power like Ebersole, a couple of mistakes like that will likely cost him. Waldburger’s career record currently stands at 15-6.
Predictions and Analysis: It’s easy to look at the resumes of these two fighters and assume that Waldburger likely has the edge due to his submission savvy offense and Ebersole’s apparent ineptness on the ground, but that would be incorrect. Ebersole has shored up a lot of holes in his submission defense recently and has defeated UFC calibre grapplers during his current winning streak, so he’s unlikely to be caught in something from top control. The other problem for Waldburger is that Ebersole has significantly better wrestling skills. It will be tough for Waldburger to get Ebersole to the mat, short of pulling guard, which means he won’t get to spend a lot of time in top control, which is really where he does his best work. I expect that Ebersole uses his wrestling skills to keep the bout upright and uses his more technically polished kick boxing skills to eventually stop Waldburger in the second round. Brian Ebersole via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Sam Stout vs. Spencer Fisher
Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout is a Canadian fighter from London, Ontario. Stout is a former professional kick boxer He is a member of the Team Tompkins Gym in London, Ontario. He was trained by legendary striking coach Shawn Tompkins. Stout is a talented kick boxer who has actually battled Spencer Fisher twice before, with each man winning one, leading us to this rubber match. Stout has claimed in interviews that he has been working on his ground game in preparation for this bout, but my guess is that this one remains a stand up affair. The threat of a takedown is often what derails Stout, as he doesn’t let his combinations go as well as he should. Despite his nickname, Stout isn’t known for his one-shot knockout power and instead relies on a volume striking Muay Thai style, which works well when he can find his groove and get going. Stout has a career record of 17-7, with most of his losses inside the UFC to big name opponents.
Spencer “The King” Fisher is a 36-year-old veteran of the sport, who is likely winding down his career. He is a highly entertaining fighter who prefers to brawl with his opponents and keep it entertaining for the fans. Fisher has struggled in the past against dominating wrestlers, but that won’t be a problem against Stout who would prefer to keep this one standing. Fisher is a former member of the Miletech Fighting Systems team, but currently trains with his own Team Evolution in Davenport, Iowa. Fisher can throw with big power, but has struggled in his most recent outings in the UFC, going 1-4. Fisher remains an important part of the UFC’s history, but his best days are likely behind him. He holds a career record of 24-8.
Predictions and Analysis: There likely isn’t any secrets heading into this fight, it’s likely going to be a stand up affair. Fisher has done well against Stout in the past, but his best days are definitely behind him. He no longer has the movement necessary to bob and weave around the cage to keep himself out of trouble. Even worse is that Stout is still in his athletic prime, now 28-years-old and seems to be learning how to throw punches with more power. The two actually share a common most recent opponent in Thiago Tavares. Fisher was soundly beaten on the feet and taken down at will before being knocked out in round two. Stout was grounded by Tavares but won several of the stand up exchanges and nearly stole a victory with a third round flurry. I think those two fights tell the tale of how this one is going to go. If Fisher can’t wrestle Stout he’s going to lose and I don’t think he can anymore. Expect a statement victory from Stout as he finishes his rival late in round three. Sam Stout by KO in Round Three
Main Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida
Gray “The Bully” Maynard is an American fighter from Phoenix, Arizona who now trains with the American Kickboxing Academy. In addition to training with AKA he is also the head wrestling coach at the Nova Uniao camp in Brazil. This will be Maynard’s first bout since leaving his long-time gym of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Maynard is best known for his two bouts against former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar, where in both bouts he started quickly and nearly finished Edgar in both fights, before fading down the stretch. Maynard is a strong wrestler who uses takedowns and top control to grind away at his opponents. He has decent boxing skills and can punch with incredible power (to be honest it’s a testament to Frankie Edgar’s toughness that he survived the first round in either one of his bouts against Maynard.) The clinch game should also favour Maynard who can utilize good dirty boxing uppercuts and batter Guida on the inside, much like Ben Henderson did in his bout against Guida. Maynard holds a professional MMA record of 10-1-1, with both of those ones coming against former champion Frankie Edgar.
Clay “The Carpenter” Guida is one of the more interesting characters in the UFC’s stable of fighters and is a fan-favorite. He is best known for his crazy hair, which is apparently going to be braided for the first time because of a complaint from American Kickboxing Academy trainers, as well as his endless gas tank. Guida is definitely not the most technically sound striker in the world, in fact his striking offense is pretty bad. He wings punches from all angles and bounces around like a kangaroo on speed, but that also makes him incredibly difficult to deal with as he’s always keeping his opponents guessing. Guida is also extremely durable and has never been knocked out in his entire career of over 40 professional bouts. Guida has struggled in the past against submission savvy fighters, but Maynard isn’t really a threat in that category. Guida has looked improved since switching to Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico and is a handful for any opponent on any night. He holds a career record of 29-12.
Predictions and Analysis: Maynard is an intelligent fighter, he’s proven that in the past and I believe this change in camps is a welcome change of scenery for him. He will likely have made improvements in his cardio and pacing in preparation for this bout as it is a guarantee that Guida can fight for all five rounds. Guida is incredibly difficult to finish with strikes, so it’s best that he keeps composed and doesn’t punch himself out looking for a finish that isn’t there. Despite making it to decision, Guida was completely outworked by Ben Henderson in their fight at the first UFC on Fox show. Maynard has definitely watched that tape over and over and has been taking notes. Henderson avoided Guida’s takedowns and punished him every time he closed the distance. Maynard is a top-notch wrestler and that sprawl and brawl style is certainly a tactic he can employ.
Overall, I give the edge to Maynard in this fight. He’s better in most of the important areas of the fight except for submission offense (unfortunately that’s probably his best path to victory.) Still he should be able to use his wrestling to control the pace and the placement of this fight. That’s going to be key for him, as Guida is going to pressure him and try to tire him out. Maynard needs to stay composed and stick to his game plan. Punish Guida in clinches when he gets too close, work for his own takedowns and control Guida on the mat. Once Maynard gets you down, unless you’re Frankie Edgar, you usually don’t get back up. Overall I expect Maynard to win four of the five rounds, unless the judge’s consider Guida flailing punches and bouncing around as effective aggression and octagon control. However, if Maynard fades late, Guida will still be ready to go and will definitely be able to capitalize. Gray Maynard via Unanimous Decision
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