The latest UFC on FX card is 24 hours away and with it some potential title consequences in the lightweight division.
Gray Maynard (10-1-1, 1 NC) vs. Clay Guida (29-12)
Fight Breakdown: If you had to compare Clay Guida and Gray Maynard on personality alone there’s such a remarkable contrast between the two. Despite the fact that they fight in similar styles and have similar levels of success the way they’re viewed by MMA fans is such a contrast because of the type of people they are.
Guida is the guy everyone loves because he’s nice, goofy and wildly charismatic. He has an exciting fighting style and is never dull in the cage, of course, but there’s something about him that people just really like. He’s goofy and quotes “The Big Lebowski” in post fight interviews; he’s that little brother someone had when you were a child that was just goofy enough to be absolutely cool to hang out with. In terms of personality Guida is the guy nearly every media member would have a drink with and talk because there’s something “cool” about him. He pushes a fast pace and never seems to be tired afterward; he can beat fighters by using his physical tools to wear them down. He’s a slippery boxer with a relentless takedown game, using tons of movement and an almost non-existent weight cut to have a physical edge on many opponents. He’s similar to Frankie Edgar in that regard; he could make featherweight without much of a problem and bantamweight could be possible too; he’s just chosen to have the speed advantage at 155 as he walks around at about the same size as featherweight champion Jose Aldo and bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.
Maynard, on the other hand, is kind of a charisma-suck of sorts. He’s not real chatty in interviews, or press conferences, and trying to coax a conversation out of him seems to be fairly tough. To continue to use the sibling analogy he’s that one friend everyone has who’s cool but just doesn’t talk all that much; you don’t think there’s much personality to him but he’s an inherently decent enough guy that he’ll stick around for a while. As a fighter he has some of the best takedowns in the lightweight division and a power boxing game that sets up his grinding style of offensive wrestling. He’s also the biggest lightweight in the division, cutting down from an estimated 180-85 pounds or so to the 155 limit; he’s essentially a decent sized welterweight making the cut to lightweight.
And this clash of personalities makes the fact that they’re fighting that much more interesting because this promises to be a similar barnburner to Edgar/Maynard 2 and 3 were a year ago.
The key to the fight is going to be if Maynard can impose his game plan on Guida. He needs to get the takedown early and keep that smothering top control for a good chunk of the round. He won’t wear out Guida but he needs to contain that hyperactive style of his to keep his cardio from becoming an issue. Guida is going to push a pace similar to Edgar, if not harder, and Maynard’s wind tank nearly betrayed him in the final rounds of the second fight. He was nearly gassed when Edgar knocked out him out in the third fight, as well. Maynard has a good gas tank but Edgar showed that someone who can push a harder pace and maintain it can neutralize Maynard’s size advantage.
Guida will be at a disadvantage early when Maynard is freshest; the first three rounds are going to be where Maynard has to impose his will and keep Guida from pushing that hard pace. The longer this can go, and the more Guida can keep this standing where his speed is a major advantage, the more Guida has the chance at winning the fight. If he can push a hard pace and get this into the fourth and fifth rounds he can steal the fight if/when Maynard fades.
Why it matters: The winner of this fight gets back into title contention quickly depending on who wins the rematch between Edgar and Henderson. Maynard probably won’t get a title shot if Edgar regains the title due to his draw and loss to the former champion but if Bendo retains then his chances increase significantly. A Maynard win here, followed by a win over someone like Anthony Pettis in a title eliminator, gets him into consideration for a title shot quickly if Henderson can retain. He only has one loss on his record, and a draw that many argued he had won, and as such it’s hard to argue he shouldn’t be in the title picture with a win over a quality opponent.
A Guida victory coupled with a loss by Henderson gets him into the title picture faster due to his loss to the current lightweight champion. He’ll probably need two to three wins after this to get back into the title hunt but a win over Maynard is a big step in the right direction.
Prediction: Maynard by TKO rd 3
Spencer Fisher (24-8) vs. Sam Stout (17-7-1)
Fight Breakdown: The last time these two fought it was an absolute barnburner and that shouldn’t change for the third time as both earlier fights were wars and I don’t expect this one to change.
This fight’s going to be fairly simple; Stout and Fisher love to throw and throw often. Neither guy takes the fight to the ground regularly; if you’re hoping for a grappling duel out of these two you’ve picked the exact wrong matchup. It is going to probably devolve into the sort of violent brawl the “just bleed” crowd enjoys the most and thus it’s placement this high up on the card.
The key to it is who’ll get off first; the key for both Stout and Fisher is going to be connecting early, often and in greater quantities than their opponent can. And while both are known for violent KO finishes both times they’ve fought have gone to decisions, as well, so most likely this fight will go the distance.
Why it matters: Both fighters need a win to keep relevant in a tough division.
Prediction: Stout by UD
Brian Ebersole (49-14-1, 1 NC) vs. T.J. Waldburger (15-6)
Fight Breakdown: Brian Ebersole has had such a wild ride in his stint in the UFC. Brought in as a last minute replacement in Australia against Chris Lytle, Ebersole pulled off the improbable upset over Lytle and has rattled off a three fight winning streak in the organization. After a career spent on the regional MMA circuit, Ebersole is making the most of his run. And now he gets another tough opponent in T.J Waldburger.
This is a classic striker/grappler matchup as Ebersole is strong on his feet and Waldburger is gifted when it comes to his matwork. And whether or not Waldburger can get it to the mat against the former division 1 wrestler will be the key to the fight; Ebersole has strong takedown defense but don’t be surprised if Waldburger does the old Frank Mir guard pull where he goes for a double leg and on his opponent’s sprawl pulls into guard from there. Waldburger has solid standup but if he wants to make this into a kickboxing match then Ebersole will outclass him in that department.
If Waldburger can get the fight to the ground he has the advantage on Ebersole. Ebersole’s no slouch on the ground but Waldburger is deadly with submissions. Ebersole is terrific at initiating the scramble from the bottom, something that aided him in his fight against Dennis Hallman, and if the fight gets to the ground Ebersole won’t be content to stay there for long. Waldburger is going to pick his spot and go for a submission quickly; his best shot at catching Ebersole is getting him down and going for broke as opposed to trying to pick his spot.
Why it matters: Both men are on hot streaks right now and a win here gets somebody a fight with someone in the Top 10 in the division.
Prediction: Ebersole via KO rd 1
Ross Pearson (13-5) vs. Cub Swanson (16-5)
Fight Breakdown: Cub Swanson is a good barometer of where a featherweight fighter is in the division. If you can beat him you’re probably en route to good things in the division. If not, welcome to the fringes of the division. He’s the highest level gatekeeper in a division that’s not quite as deep as others.
The key to the fight will be if Pearson has enough power to knock out Swanson. Swanson has been stopped before and Pearson has enough power to do so; whether or not Swanson gives him that opening to do so will be what decides the fight. Swanson is a tough fighter but he’s right on that verge of being a gatekeeper in a fairly shallow weight class. Beating Pearson gets him back in the title hunt sooner than later.
Why it matters: Ross Pearson is clearly someone the UFC brass like and want to try and position into a title shot sooner than later. He was on the smaller side of the lightweight division, though, and featherweight became a cut he could make. Swanson is a stalwart of the division, having been around the WEC for quite some time. A win here and Pearson is potentially one win away from a shot at the title.
Prediction: Pearson via SD
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts