UFC 120 Preview Part Two: Claude Patrick vs. James Wilks

What we have here is one of those fights Joe Silva loves to make and makes so well; a fresh faced newbie trying to earn entry into the club taking on the fighter who is struggling to salvage his career. That may be a harsh, cynical way of looking at James Wilks and his current status within the company but I don’t see it as fundamentally untrue. Adding to his misfortune is the fact that the scouting reports have his opponent Saturday night, Claude Patrick, as the better wrestler, better in the clinch, and the owner of some of the deadliest guillotine chokes to ever descend from the Great White North.

Not to take anything away from these two combatants but eliminate Wilks’ nationality and this fight almost certainly finds itself on the prelims. Since being crowned the Ultimate Fighter in June of last year Wilks hasn’t proven himself to be a break out star. He lost to Matt Brown at UFC 105 and claimed a decision victory over Peter Sobotta at UFC 115. And now with the shadow of the UFC’s release of Efrain Escudero (13-2) hanging over him one is left to wonder if Wilks isn’t fighting on borrowed time. Even if he doesn’t need the win to stay employed he at least needs it to stay relevant in the welterweight division.

Patrick will be competing in his second UFC fight after submitting Ricardo Funch with one of his storied chokes. If that fight taught us anything about him as a fighter it is that he has a severe preference for the ground game as he nearly spent the entire fight with Funch fixating on getting him to the mat. That win proved that perhaps he was somebody to watch but he is going to need to bring his A game to UFC 120 if he truly hopes to leap into the middle of the welterweight pack.

It’s a tough fight to pick, Wilks and his well balanced offense going up against Patrick and his dangerous submissions. My guess is that with the pressures of his career weighing down on him and the support of an entire nation at his back Wilks will find a way to win the fight. Many pundits are picking him to lose but assuming he can keep things in an upright position long enough I think he can utilize his wicked (at times) stand up to score a victory over the Canadian. The UFC is certainly cutting him no breaks with their matchmaking but with a win here he can make one more run at moving into title contention.

Pick: James Wilks via 2nd Round TKO

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