We all thought the same thing when this fight was announced: Man, the UFC must not really like Ryan Couture if they’re dropping him into the deep end so soon. After a split decision win over KJ Noons, one a lot of people didn’t think he won, he’s taking a massive leap up in competition and a pretty high leap up the card for his UFC debut.
Fight Breakdown – Ross Pearson didn’t look right at featherweight when he got knocked out by Cub Swanson. He’s a solid 155 but 145 was too much of a cut. If there was a 150 he’d be perfect for it but right now 155 is a place he can comfortably make a home at.
Pearson is a better striker than Couture and it’s where he’ll win the fight. He’s spoken of being a well rounded fighter, et al, but his biggest strength is the fact that he can light guys up. His ground game is more than capable, and he’s claimed to have worked on his wrestling, but like he showed against George Sotiropoulos when guys want to throw with him dudes get mercked. Look for him to find his range, keep Couture from using his wrestling to make this a NAGA match and look for the kill shot.
Couture isn’t as good a striker as Pearson and his game plan is simple: take Pearson down and grind him out. He was out struck by KJ Noons significantly and Pearson has more power than Noons does. He’s got to ugly it up or he’s going to get hurt. Noons nearly stopped him with strikes and Pearson is a similar fighter to Noons.
Why It matters – Pearson is a guy the UFC really wants to get a title shot in a division sooner than later. Zuffa really wants Pearson to become a lightweight version of Michael Bisping for the UK market, hence why he got to coach a season of TUF despite not really earning it. A win here and he gets someone in the Top 10 and then is probably a win or two away from a title shot. Pearson vs. Benson Henderson (if he’s still champion) would be a great fight for the UK in 2014, potentially, and a win here gets him closer to that.
Couture is getting a tough opening fight and a win here puts him potentially against a Top 10 fighter next. There’s still name recognition because he’s Randy Couture’s kid, of course, but a win here (especially a finish) puts him in the driver’s seat.
Prediction – Pearson