I get knocked down ...
After suffering the first knockout of his career that wasn't self-inflicted, lightweight contender Gray Maynard is back in action, taking on fellow fallen contender Clay Guida in the main event of UFC on FX 4 going down this Fri., June 22, 2012, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
In addition, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 9 winner Ross Pearson will make his second appearance in the featherweight division when he takes on Cub Swanson while Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher collide for the third (and likely final) time.
There are eight undercard bouts in store before the main card kicks off on FX, however, two on Facebook and the remainder on FUEL TV. Stop by after the jump for a look at the first four such fights.
135 lbs.: Ken Stone (10-3) vs. Dustin Pague (11-5)
An American Top Team representative, Stone had one of the least welcoming welcomes to the UFC in recent memory, taking on former champion Eddie Wineland in his debut and getting slammed halfway through the floor for his trouble. His sophomore effort consisted of Scott Jorgensen punching a hole through his face from guard, but he managed to bounce back by choking out Donny Walker. Stone has stopped 10 opponents, six of them by submission.
Channeling his inner Chris Leben, TUF 14 veteran Pague fought just two weeks ago, defeating Jared Papazian by first-round submission and making it look easy. The win marked Pague's first UFC victory, having lost his debut in dramatic fashion to John Albert.
Pague's effecctive grappling attack has been the lynchpin of his MMA success, bringing him seven wins by some form of lock, including four by rear-naked choke. As impressive a story it would be if Pague were to pull this off, I feel Stone is underrated by virtue of his knockout losses, both of which were to top-10 fighters.
What I've seen of Stone when he wasn't getting sent to La-La Land has impressed me; he was chewing Wineland's leg up and was giving Jorgensen all sorts of trouble before finally getting wrangled to the floor. His chin may not be great, but Pague doesn't strike me as one to crack it. As long as Stone doesn't make the mistake of spending too long in the clinch, I think he can have success picking Pague apart from the legs up before landing something ugly.
Prediction: Stone via first-round TKO
170 lbs.: Dan Miller (13-6) vs. Ricardo "Golden Boy" Funch (8-3)
While Miller started his UFC career an impressive 3-0 with two stoppages, a walloping at the hands of Chael Sonnen kicked off a borderline doom spiral, losing four of his next six with his only victories coming at the hands of fighters no longer employed by the UFC. While his grit and willingness to step up on a moment’s notice have kept him employed through these tough times, his drop to welterweight will need to start off on the right foot.
While he hasn’t exactly been fighting scrubs, Team Link’s Funch has yet to taste victory in the Octagon, getting thrashed by Johny Hendricks, Claude Patrick, and Mike Pyle. While Funch bought some extra time for himself by fighting the aforementioned Pyle on short notice, his second tenure in the world’s premiere fighting organization could be a short one if he can’t take out Miller.
I just feel so bad for Miller. He seems like a quality guy, he’s been through some serious tragedy, and he is without a doubt one of the toughest human beings in combat sports. There are very few people out there who could have survived Rousimar Palhares unleashing his inner (and outer) Donkey Kong on him. It’s just a shame that he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in MMA.
Luckily, neither is Funch.
The Team Link member just doesn’t strike me as possessing the wrestling acumen that has historically plagued Miller, nor does he have the BJJ to submit Miller from his back. Sure, the fact that Miller hasn’t fought since Palhares committed several war crimes on his face and is making what is obviously a desperation cut to 170-pounds has me worried, but not enough for me to pick someone of Funch’s middling ability. Miller by uneventful top control.
Prediction: Miller via unanimous decision
170 lbs.: Matt "The Immortal" Brown (14-11) vs. Luis "Beicao" Ramos (19-7)
A UFC mainstay by virtue of his relentless aggression, Brown shocked the MMA world at UFC 145 by defeating super-prospect Stephen Thompson, even knocking down the feared striker with a standing elbow. The victory marked Brown’s first winning streak in the UFC since 2010.
Ramos, a former Shooto champion, entered the UFC on short notice as a late replacement for Siyar Bahadurzada; unfortunately for him, the man he elected to take on was Erick Silva, who blasted "Beicao" and put him away in all of forty seconds. Prior to this defeat, Ramos had won six of his previous eight, but his poor finishing rate could cost him his UFC career should he fall to Brown.
I like Matt Brown. I don’t see how anyone not in Pete Sell’s immediate family wouldn’t. The fact remains, though, that he’s incredibly limited. Three of his submission wins are due to something other than an actual submission, and he’s proven easy pickings for anyone who can put him on his back, which is way too many people in the division.
Ramos may be untested on the biggest stage and lack a big win, but his top control-centric offense seems tailor-made to defeat Brown. "Beicao" isn’t a finisher by any stretch of the imagination, but Brown’s uncanny ability to get submitted in the second round has me calling for Ramos’s ninth finish.
Prediction: Ramos via second-round submission
185 lbs.: Nick "The Jersey Devil" Catone (9-2) vs. Chris Camozzi (16-5)
While injury problems have left Catone fighting just once in both 2010 and 2011, he’s done good work when he wasn’t spontaneously imploding. He gave current middleweight contender Mark Munoz everything he could handle at UFC 102 and, most recently, took out rising prospect Constantinos Philippou at UFC 128. Catone has succeeded on the back of his impressive wrestling abilities, but has six finishes to his name, bucking the trend of wrestlers failing to finish.
Despite getting forced off TUF 11 due to a broken jaw, Camozzi was invited to compete on the show’s Finale, defeating James Hammortree by unanimous decision. He’s enjoyed mixed success since, squeaking out a split decision over Dongi Yang before being cut after a loss to Kyle Noke. He’s 1-1 in his second tenure, falling to Francis Carmont before taking out Dustin Jacoby via guillotine.
Camozzi is as tough as they come, but hasn’t really demonstrated much besides that. Jacoby is, for lack of a better word, a joke, and neither Noke nor Carmont had any trouble whatsoever manhandling him. He doesn’t excel in any particular area, and he needs to have developed some serious takedown defense since the Jacoby fight.
Odds are, he hasn’t. I’d be worried about Catone’s 16 month layoff, but he didn’t seem to have much trouble bouncing back after fourteen months between the Forbes and Phillippou fights. Expect "The Jersey Devil" to control the bout from top position with a steady diet of ground-and-pound.
Prediction: Catone via unanimous decision
Stop by tomorrow for a look at the remaining four bouts on tap for FUEL TV.