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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The UFC brings two live events to fans this weekend, running consecutive nights in Atlantic City and Belo Horizonte, respectively. First up is the UFC on FX 4 card this Friday night, another four-fight main card broadcast on the network. This is also the third event on FX this month alone, featuring some of the bigger names the network has hosted thus far. Let's take a look at what's on tap Friday night.
Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida (Lightweight)
Maynard had two of his most exciting fights ever last year in his fights with Frankie Edgar; unfortunately for him he didn't come out of either fight with a win. He's taken his draw and the first loss of his career, and has turned himself into a bit of a nomad in search of bettering himself as a fighter.
Guida picked up one of his biggest wins last year, defeating Anthony Pettis in the WEC Lightweight Champion's UFC debut. However, he dropped a decision to Ben Henderson in a number one contender fight last November, making this one of the biggest fights of his career.
Both Maynard and Guida have gotten criticism throughout their time in the organization for sometimes employing less than exciting strategies, and it's certainly possibly this fight could devolve into that type of fight through five rounds. However, it is just as possible that the two of them force each other into a more exciting type of fight.
Guida's top game is not going to be in play against a wrestler the caliber of Maynard, and likewise Guida's a capable enough wrestler to not be held down for five rounds. Guida's striking game isn't particularly dynamic, and while Maynard had some issues with finishing last year against Edgar, his time working with several other gyms has certainly shown him some new things.
Maynard's wrestling and striking combination is greater than that of Guida, and while he may not finish him, he'll put on a good showing in taking this fight. Maynard via unanimous decision
Sam Stout vs. Spencer Fisher (Lightweight)
Stout and Fisher have fought each other twice before, with Stout taking a split decision in their first meeting and Fisher taking a unanimous decision in the rematch. Both fights took place more than five years ago, and the two have had very up and down runs inside the Octagon since then.
Stout's had the nickname "Hands of Stone" for some time, but he's got just one knockout win to his name in the UFC. In fact, in twelve appearances in the UFC, Stout's gone to the judges' scorecards 10 times.
Fisher's had a higher finishing rate, but in his last five fights, the 36-year-old veteran has won just one fight. Both have been fairly similar fighters throughout their careers, apt to stand and trade with anyone in the cage with them. This is likely to be a three-round back and forth fight, likely similar to their first two fights. With that in mind, I'll take Stout via unanimous decision
Brian Ebersole vs. T.J. Waldburger (Welterweight)
Brian Ebersole took the UFC fanbase by surprise when he made his debut last February. A longtime veteran of the sport, Ebersole showed he was a legitimate talent in the division by surprising Chris Lytle with a unanimous decision win. He followed that up with a knockout over Dennis Hallman and a split decision over Claude Patrick in his last bout, running his current winning streak up to ten fights.
Waldburger enters Friday night off an immensely impressive armbar win over Jake Hecht under a minute into their fight, his second straight submission win. He's 3-1 in the UFC, his sole loss a knockout to Johny Hendricks. He's also got an immensely slick jiu jitsu game that was on display in his last two fights.
However, Ebersole is an extremely talented veteran, more than capable of keeping himself out of trouble on the ground. He'll also easily be the better striker. Though Waldburger's got a lot of potential, he's been knocked out several times in his career already, and Ebersole's the exact type of fighter capable of doing that once again. Ebersole via TKO in the second round
Ross Pearson vs. Cub Swanson (Featherweight)
Pearson, the season nine winner of The Ultimate Fighter, showed a lot of promise at times in the lightweight division, but his losses to Cole Miller and Edson Barboza prompted a change for the Brit. He dropped down to the featherweight division last December, and in a tough fight against Junior Assuncao he took a closely contested decision.
Now he'll take on a familiar face in the featherweight division in Swanson, who has fought ten times in the WEC and UFC. He's alternated wins and losses in his last seven fights, but after a loss in his UFC debut he bounced back in January with a big knockout over George Roop.
Swanson's striking game is solid, and he fairly equates himself on the ground as well. Pearson's boxing game is really good as well, especially his clinch game and dirty boxing on the cage. Swanson's going to be likely willing to trade with Pearson on the feet, though he may look to take it to the ground if he gets in trouble.
Pearson's not easy to take and keep down on the ground, though, so that may wind up being a tough proposition. I like Pearson's game at 145 lbs. He's of comparable size to all his opponents, and he hasn't lost anything in technique or power. He's not a powerhouse striker, but he's very technical, and in a back and forth striking bout with Swanson I think he'll keep himself in the win column. Pearson via unanimous decision
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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