A review of UFC on FX 4, which featured a solid main card until a terrible main event.
Gray Maynard def. Clay Guida: Guida entered this fight as one of the most popular lightweights in the sport. He exited the fight as one of the most hated. This all due to a strategy that involved him essentially jabbing and running around to avoid the strikes and wrestling of Maynard. It was actually an effective strategy in the first round because his movement had a purpose and he was not only scoring with the jab, but also a good straight right. Then it turned into a marathon for Guida as he kept moving backwards and throwing nothing but a jab while Maynard stalked forward and swung wildly with power hooks. At the end of the fourth round, Maynard had enough with Guida’s strategy so he dropped his hands, ate a couple of clean punches, sprawled on a takedown, and nearly finished the fight with a guillotine. In the fifth round, the referee warned Guida for his blatant running, which made him change his strategy a bit, allowing Maynard to take advantage by clinching and scoring some knees. That was actually Maynard’s most effective offense throughout the fight, but he was rarely able to get ahold of Guida due to the movement. It was a terrible fight that Maynard ended up winning by split decision, which please the crowd. Due to the boringness of the fight and Guida’s strategy, people will ignore the things that were actually wrong with the bout. Guida’s strategy wasn’t bad and the execution in the first round was perfect because he was landing with more than just a jab. Had he done that for the next 20-minutes, I wouldn’t have had a problem with his performance. But he got away from purposeful head movement, footwork, and striking and then just moved away with a jab for the sake of moving away. Seeing Guida move backwards instead of forward disappointed a lot of people, but it was a winning strategy for the most part. It turned into a losing strategy when Maynard baited him by dropping his hands and the referee warned him for running. Maynard may have won over some fans, but the same problems he had against Frankie Edgar are still there. He stands flat footed and just moves forward with power shots when someone actually uses movement instead of cutting off the cage or using his wrestling. In fact, for all the talk leading up to the fight about Maynard getting back to his wrestling roots, he barely initiated takedowns despite being the bigger, stronger, and better wrestler. Maynard is still an elite level fighter, but until he learns to cut off the cage and stop looking for one big power punch, he’s always going to have trouble against faster strikers who use a lot of movement. I’d like to see him against Anthony Pettis where the winner fights for the title after Nate Diaz. As for Guida, I understand the criticism, and I thought the fight sucked as well, but I also understand what Guida was trying to do. The game plan was actually good, the execution just sucked. Thanks to that poor execution, Guida just undid years of exciting fights and winning over fans that he won’t get back….until he has another exciting fight.
Sam Stout def. Spencer Fisher: This fight wasn’t quite the barnburner that their first two were, but thats thanks in large part to the improved takedowns of Stout. Fisher was actually getting the better of a lot of the exchanges, which was a bit surprising given that Stout is the better technical striker who has looked on top of his game as of late while Fisher is more of a brawler who has obviously slowed down over the years. Fisher’s biggest Achilles reared it’s ugly head once again though as he failed to stop the takedowns of Stout, who has never been known for his offensive wrestling. Near the end of every round, Stout would score a takedown and control Fisher for the last minute or two to seal the round in his favor. I give Stout credit for adding a new dimension to his game, but it’s more disappointing that Fisher, who has spent years with Pat Miletich and his camp, was getting put on his back by a guy like Stout. It was a fine conclusion to the trilogy, but both guys are who they are at this point. Stout’s newfound wrestling might buy him some more time, but it’s not like he’s going to out-wrestle the elite guys in the division and for all his brilliance offensively on his feet, he still gets hit way too much. Fisher is now 1-5 in his last 6, but could end up getting another fight just because he comes to WAR! I’m a fan of Fisher and his style, but it’s obvious that his best days are behind him.
Brian Ebersole def. TJ Waldburger: Ebersole’s improbable UFC run continues. It took the dude over 60 fights to get to the octagon but now that he’s there, he’s making the most of things. It was a little shocking in the first round to see Ebersole get dropped with a short left given that he’s never been finished from strikes and rarely dropped, but credit to Waldburger for landing a perfect punch on the button. Waldburger nearly submitted Ebersole with a d’arce choke after dropping him, but Ebersole survived, got to his feet, and did well at the end of the round on his feet. Round two was very close as Ebersole got an early takedown, but spent the majority of the round fending off submission attempts from Waldburger. The thing is, every time Ebersole shrugged off a submission, he made Waldburger pay with some good ground and pound, especially in the final minute where it looked like he might be able to overwhelm Waldburger with punches and elbows. It was a close round, and one that Waldburger could’ve won from his back, but Ebersole did enough damage with his ground and pound to take the round. The third was the same from Ebersole except that Waldburger’s submissions were fewer and farer between, allowing Ebersole to just control him and land strikes whenever he felt the need to stay busy. Ebersole might not be the prettiest fighter, but he’s been getting it done against solid competition and could see a step up next time around. Waldburger is young and should learn from this. His striking looked better but it still needs to improve and he should take solace in the fact that he held his own against an experienced grappler and probably would’ve submitted a lot of guys.
Cub Swanson def. Ross Pearson: Either Swanson is finally living up to his potential or Pearson is proving that he’s an average fighter no matter what weight class he’s at. It’s probably a little of both. Swanson looked really good on his feet with some slick counter strikes and even throwing in a few capoeira techniques in there for good measure. He finished Pearson with a nice double right-left hook combination while moving backwards, which says a lot about his technique and power. The speed was really Swanson’s biggest advantage in this fight as he was beating Pearson to the punch 9/10 times. Pearson got his licks in and even tried to mix in some takedowns, but Swanson took everything well and bounced up immediately after the takedown. Swanson has now drastically moved up the featherweight division and was helped out by Hatsu Hioki’s loss on the preliminary card. The problem for Swanson is that the guys above him have already defeated him and it’s too soon to do a rematch. Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, and Ricardo Lamas (who beat Hioki) all have dominate victories over Swanson. I expect Swanson to get another former lightweight who has dropped down to featherweight in the past year, maybe Charles Oliveria or Denis Siver. As for Pearson, it’s pretty obvious that he’s not the best boxer in any division and he has British wrestling. He’ll have exciting fights against fellow strikers, but that’s about it.