While they may not be household names, two very entertaining UFC welterweights will battle this Saturday afternoon (April 14, 2012) as DaMarques Johnson squares off against the UK's John Maguire on the UFC on Fuel TV 2 main card in Stockholm, Sweden.
Johnson has had a very up and down career thus far in the UFC, never really able to string together some quality wins. He's coming off a very impressive first round knockout at the UFC on FOX debut and will be hoping to build off of that strong showing against John Maguire.
John Maguire was called to the UFC to compete in his native England at UFC 138 last fall. He didn't disappoint his hometown fans by going out and dominating Justin Edwards over the course of three rounds. With the victory, he's graduated to the main card and is hoping he doesn't make the UFC brass regret their decision.
Will DaMarques Johnson finally be able to put together a nice streak in the welterweight division? Will Maguire's tough grappling skills be too much for "Darkness?" What's the key to victory for both middling welterweights?
Let's find out:DaMarques Johnson
Record: 13-9 overall, 4-3 in the UFC
How he got here: DaMarques Johnson learned jiu-jitsu while in the army and got into MMA after meeting Jeremy Horn once his service was over. He did not get off to a terrific start to his MMA career, losing four of his first six professional fights, but eventually he got the hang of it.
After winning seven out of eight bouts, Johnson would become a castmember of The Ultimate Fighter season nine. He became known on the show for his feud with Michael Bisping, but also won three straight fights to advance to the finale, where he would come up short to James Wilks.
He's won three of his five UFC fights since, but none of the men he defeated are still employed with the promotion. Most recently, he stepped up on very late notice and put up a tough fight against Amir Sadollah before being overwhelmed by the TUF season seven winner on the ground with elbows.
Johnson crushed Clay Harvison in his last UFC bout, knocking out the TUF alumni in 94 seconds. He'll be looking to do the same this weekend.
How he gets it done: Johnson has a very exciting and aggressive fight style and while he's dangerous on the ground, whether he's on his back looking for a triangle choke or even finishing a fight with a body triangle, this is a fight where he needs to showcase his defensive wrestling.
The Elite Performance fighter should be trying to keep this fight standing by any means possible. He has some terrific knockout power in his hands and I just don't think he can hang with Maguire on the canvas, especially if he gets put on his back. Johnson needs to utilize terrific footwork in this bout and look to land that big uppercut if Maguire tries to close the distance.
If he can frustrate Maguire and force him to play his game, that knockout blow could come at any moment. It's by far "Darkness's" best opportunity to be victorious on Saturday.
Record: 17-3 overall, 1-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: Justin Edwards (UFC 138)
How he got here: John Maguire started his fight career in 2006 and won his first eight bouts. He had his momentum halted at the World Pankration Championships but he bounced back and consecutive victories earned him an opportunity to fight for upstart UK promotion BAMMA.
His run in BAMMA was a dark spot in his career as he was defeated by current champion Tom Watson at middleweight in the inaugural event. He returned for BAMMA 3 as a welterweight where he dropped a unanimous decision to Simeon Thoresen.
Since those losses, however, he's looked terrific. Maguire signed up with London-based promotion UCMMA where he would win four straight which included both winning the promotion's title and defending it three times successfully. This earned him an invite into the UFC where he handled former Ultimate Fighter season 13 fighter Justin Edwards over the course of three rounds to win a decision.
He'll have an opportunity to keep his momentum rolling against another Ultimate Fighter winner this Saturday.
How he gets it done: Obviously, Maguire's strength has been his grappling. He took over against Edwards in his UFC debut and was able to dominate the wrestler and Jorge Gurgel protege over the course of three rounds with his top control, ground and pound and excellent positioning.
Maguire has some limited stand-up ability, but after what DaMarques Johnson did against Clay Harvison in his last fight, it would be wise for him to close the distance early either in the clinch or with a takedown attempt and work his ass off to put Johnson on his back.
Johnson has wilted from strong top pressure and ground and pound before, which has actually been in all three of his UFC losses. If Maguire can remain glued on top and wear Johnson down, it could potentially leave an opening for a TKO or submission finish.
Fight X-Factor: The X-Factor for this fight most likely is grappling. DaMarques Johnson has pulled off plenty of submissions throughout his career, but unless he's rocked his opponent in the stand-up, he hasn't fared well against the tough grapplers in the division that he's faced off against. It's not like his losses have come against the elites either. They've been to James Wilks, Amir Sadollah and Matt Riddle. Maguire is at least as capable on the canvas as them if not moreso.
If Maguire can put Johnson on his back, Johnson could be having a bad time. The most important battle in this fight will be Johnson's battle to remain upright and work his powerful striking game. That will almost certainly decide the outcome.
Bottom Line: This is an intriguing battle of styles. One wants the fight to stay standing where he showcase his knockout power. The other likely wants to put their opponent on the canvas where they can attack with ground and pound or submissions. It will be a tremendous test of wills and whoever can impose their will will win. I highly doubt that Maguire just lays on Johnson for three rounds if he can put the fight on the canvas and I also highly doubt that Johnson just works his jab for three straight rounds if he can keep it standing. Whoever imposes their will should be putting on a strong display of their skills in victory, almost certainly resulting in a stoppage. This was put on the main card for a reason.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 2? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!