Two of the most exciting veteran bantamweights in the UFC will collide this Saturday afternoon (April 14, 2012) as British bomber Brad Pickett takes on "The Angel of Death" Damacio Page in the opening bout of the UFC on Fuel TV 2 main card in Stockholm, Sweden.
Pickett has performed admirably against some of the best talents on the UFC roster throughout his career. He came up short in a thrilling one round fight against current top contender Renan Barao in his UFC debut last fall and he's hoping to turn things around this weekend.
Page has long been one of the most dangerous heavy-hitters in the bantamweight division. Despite fighting at 135 pounds, there's always a chance that he'll be putting someone to sleep in his fights. He also was defeated in his UFC debut against former champion Brian Bowles and now that he's finally healthy, he too is hoping to restore some of his former glory.
Will "One-Punch" be able to put Page's lights out? Can "The Angel of Death" put an end to Pickett's run at the top of the division? Which bantamweight will reign supreme this Saturday night?
Let's find out:
Record: 20-6 overall, 0-1 in the UFC
How he got here: Originally transitioning into MMA from boxing, Brad Pickett cut his teeth in the UK's Cage Rage promotion, winning and defending the featherweight title in his first six professional bouts. After five full years of fighting which resulted in an impressive 18-3 record, "One Punch" would earn an invite to the WEC.
He would make a tremendous splash in his promotional debut, winning via Peruvian necktie against Kyle Dietz in one of 2009's finest submissions which also took home a "Submission of the Night" bonus. He would next appear on the main card of WEC 48, the promotion's first and only pay-per-view against newcomer Demetrious Johnson. Pickett defeated Johnson in a strong showing, handing "Mighty Mouse" his first career loss.
He would go on to suffer his first and only loss in the WEC against Scott Jorgensen in another thrilling bout that saw him take home yet another bonus. Lastly, Pickett battled veteran Ivan Menjivar on the preliminary card of WEC 53 in one of the year's most exciting bouts in a back and forth battle.
The top British bantamweight suffered a back injury and didn't make his UFC debut for nearly 10 months, but when he did, he had a blistering battle with elite prospect Renan Barao but was defeated via first round submission. He'll be trying to get back on track against the battle-tested Damacio Page.
How he gets it done: Pickett has a nice striking background, which should keep him safe in the stand-up portion, but he needs to work that terrific ground game of his, you know, the game that has resulted in a total of nine submission victories on his end..
Page has had trouble if he gets outgrappled by opponents and he tends to leave openings if taken down when he tries to scramble to his feet. He's especially had trouble with the guillotine choke so Pickett should be on the lookout to latch something on and squeeze for dear life.
While Pickett is more than competent in the stand-up realm, he's needs to resist the urge to brawl if Page comes forward aggressively and swinging heavy. Yes, he loves his boxing and desperately wants to score his first knockout or TKO in over three and a half years, but he needs to play to his technical strengths. He got caught against Barao because he was swinging for the fences. He needs to fight a bit more composed this time around.
Record: 12-6 overall, 0-1 in the UFC
Key Losses: Brian Bowles 2x (UFC on Versus 4, WEC 35), Demetrious Johnson (WEC 52)
How he got here: Damacio Page has spent his whole life in the Albuquerque, New Mexico region, so it's no big surprise that he gravitated to Greg Jackson's gym before too long.
"The Angel of Death" was a terrific talent in mixed martial arts, but multiple personal issues prevented him from achieving the elite levels of success he desired. After winning four straight bouts, he was given an opportunity to compete in the WEC when they sent an event to Albuquerque and he scored the most impressive victory of his career with a unanimous decision against Scott Jorgensen.
Page would go 2-2 in his next two WEC fights, losing twice via guillotine choke to Brian Bowles and Demetrious Johnson while sandwiching in two knockout victories in between. He was plagued by a host of injuries before he finally made his UFC debut in 2011, but again was stopped by Bowles in a rematch.
With this upcoming fight against Pickett, he may very well be battling for his UFC career.
How he gets it done: Page needs to do whatever it takes to avoid the ground game. He's got respectable wrestling skills and he needs to use them defensively to keep this fight standing where he can brawl with Pickett and force exchanges in the stand-up portion.
If he can get the crowd going because the fight is exciting, he could definitely get into Pickett's head and force "One Punch" to stand and trade with him to keep the crowd cheering. Page has a very intense stalking style, similar in the stand-up to main eventer Thiago Silva.
He loves to push forward, looking to land that heavy shot and if he can force Pickett to stand and bang, he might very well get that opportunity.
Fight X-Factor: The X-Factor for this fight is all the wear and tear and the injuries that both of these bantamweights have suffered over the past few years. Page is recovering from a serious vertebrae fusion surgery while Pickett has been dealing with back problems and at 33 years old, is approaching an inflection point of the 135 pound division.
How healthy each man is heading into this fight could very well be the defining factor in who wins it. Both can pack a punch and are exciting. Whoever still has that spring in their step has a major probability of pulling this one out.
Bottom Line: Damacio Page and Brad Pickett hands down do not have boring fights. They have a high ratio of either "Fight of the Night" awards or finishes when they perform whether it was in the WEC or the UFC and they've more than held their own against the elites of the division. This is a very strong match-up considering it's the opening bout of the main card. You should be in for a treat from both combatants.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fuel TV 2? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!