Two very tough welterweights will square off this Saturday night (July 21, 2012) as Brian Ebersole returns on short notice to take on James Head on the main card of UFC 149 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Ebersole is now 4-0 in the UFC's welterweight division and actually scored a unanimous decision victory just under a month ago against T.J. Waldburger. When Claude Patrick went down with an injury, the American-Australian stepped up and took his place. He'll be looking for his second victory in a month.
James Head is a very powerful and dangerous striker. He was undersized at middleweight but a drop down to 170 pounds proved to be a very good decision as he dominated Papy Abedi in his welterweight debut earlier this year in Stockholm, Sweden. Now, he'll be hoping to steal some of Ebersole's momentum with a big victory.
Will Ebersole's big risk give an even bigger reward with a high exposure victory on pay-per-view? Or has he bitten off more than he can chew against the extremely dangerous Head? What's the key to victory for both men?
Let's find out:Brian Ebersole
Record: 50-14-1 overall, 4-0 in the UFC
Key Losses: Hector Lombard (CFC 5)
How he got here: Brian Ebersole had an incredibly long road to the UFC. He spent the first 17 fights of his career fighting on his native midwest local circuit before finding a temporary home in Mexico. From 2002-2004, Ebersole would fight a ridiculous 23 times, with 11 of those bouts taking place south of the border. After another year spent on the local circuit fighting for six separate promotions in six fights, the Indiana native would find a surprising new home down under.
"Bad Boy" would fight 13 of his next 15 matches in Australia over the next five years, culminating in a surprise last minute inclusion on the UFC 127 card against veteran Chris Lytle when his original opponent, Carlos Condit, had dropped out of the card.
Ebersole not only stepped up, but he would make a huge impact, smashing Lytle over the course of three rounds and nearly finishing the fight in the second after blasting "Lights Out" with a knee to halt the fellow Indiana native's four fight winning streak in the promotion.
At 30 years old and after over 60 professional fights, Brian Ebersole had finally arrived. He was paired up against fellow veteran Dennis Hallman for UFC 133 and after a wardrobe malfunction, Ebersole finished Hallman with repeated elbows and punches from top position.
He followed that victory up with a rather dull decision against Claude Patrick, but after over six months away from the Octagon, he returned and scored a hard-fought unanimous decision over T.J. Waldburger. Not willing to wait around for an extended period of time for his next fight, Ebersole stepped in on short notice to face ames head here.
How he gets it done: Ebersole is a very unorthodox fighter. He's got a solid wrestling background but he loves to strike, throwing everything from spinning elbows to cartwheel kicks. This man is capable of hurting you from any angle with any attack. The unpredictability of his striking and grappling can cause serious problems for his opponents.
There is an extremely high probability that "The White Anderson Silva" will throw his crazy cartwheel kick in this bout either at the beginning of a round or if Head gives him enough separation.
Ebersole's got a strong background in wrestling and I feel he's going to use it in reverse for this fight to try and keep this bout standing. If Head has one big weakness, he tends to be a little too comfortable off his back. He is very active there but Ebersole is experienced enough that he should be able to handle any submission that Head throws his way.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Ebersole grind out a decision here as Head is very powerful on the feet and could actually really hurt him if he gets caught, especially with such little time between his last fight where he got caught in the first round.
Record: 8-2 overall, 1-1 in the UFC
Key Losses: Nick Ring (UFC 131)
How he got here: James Head started his mixed martial arts career in 2006 and realized he needed to add to his game. In 2008, he teamed up with top American Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Rafael Lovato and quickly advanced to purple belt status.
He competed on the local Oklahoma City circuit as an undersized middleweight and scored the defining victory of his young career when he earned a decision against recently cast out UFC 185-pounder Gerald Harris.
Head's victory over "The Hurricane" earned him a UFC invite and he made his debut against Nick Ring. After a very strong start in which he nearly finished the TUF 11 alumni, Head faded badly and was finished in the second round via rear naked choke.
The loss motivated a drop down to welterweight and Head debuted at 170 pounds this past February, dominating local favorite Papy Abedi both striking and on the ground, scoring a rear naked choke victory. Head was originally expected to face Claude Patrick at this event, but an injury opened the door for Brian Ebersole.
How he gets it done: Head is going to have to use all his physical tools to win this fight. He's going to be a bit bigger, stronger and longer than Ebersole, who was contemplating a drop down to lightweight before taking this fight on short notice.
Head should lean on Ebersole in the clinch if the fight gets up close and personal and at a distance, he should use his reach with jabs and lunging hooks. Ebersole was hurt standing in his last fight against T.J. Waldburger, a fighter with much less power than Head so if Head can land something significant, he might be able to stop the veteran.
Also, with Ebersole having just fought, he might be worn down a bit so Head really needs to push the pace and see if he can stretch the Ameristralian past his limits.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight has to be the fact that Brian Ebersole is taking this fight on such short notice, less than one month since his last fight. Normally, someone does this after a very quick finish like Dustin Pague recently or perhaps Chris Leben in 2010 but Ebersole is coming off a grueling battle against T.J. Waldburger in which he nearly got knocked out and choked out in the first round. This is some serious turnaround for the veteran and if he's got any bumps or bruises, he could be in for some serious trouble against a very large and dangerous James Head.
Bottom Line: There's potential for some serious excitement here as Head is a very powerful and dangerous striker on the feet and he's got an above average submission game on the ground. He's an extremely tough test for Ebersole especially considering how short of notice he's taking this fight after a very hard fought decision win. Head is going to be bigger and stronger as well so I'm very interested to see how much Ebersole's craftiness and experience can counter some of Head's physical advantages. This will be a very, very interesting chess match.
Who will come out on top at UFC 149? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!