This weekend (Sept. 29, 2012) at UFC on Fuel TV 5 in Nottingham, Englan, many interesting fights will take place, so it's very difficult to come up with a definitive early pick for "Fight of the Night." My motto here is when in doubt, look to Lightweight. At the event, we'll see a stylistic clash when two greatly skilled 155-pound fighters square off, rising prospect Paul Sass taking on veteran Matt Wiman, and the fight promises fireworks.
Being that both of these fighters are immensely skilled, it is odd to see how very different their styles are. Where Sass is clearly a submission specialist, especially with his feared "Sassangle," Wiman is a fighter who is well rounded in all areas, though not noticeably great anywhere.
Sass (13-0, 3-0 UFC) is a talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter known for a very good triangle choke. He started off his career with a streak of seven straight triangle chokes, finally having it broken when he opted to use a heel hook on his next opponent. He has notched nine total wins by way of triangle, three by heel hook, and a lone split decision victory over Rob Sinclair.
He has yet to see his opponents' hands raised.
Sass' ground work isn't hard to explain. He frantically looks for submissions, and he usually gets them. His set ups are expected, but they can't be overcome, as he is just that good at what he does.
Sass' style is mostly known for his dynamic submission game, but his striking game, while raw, really lends itself to creating amazing fights. Because he is so unafraid of hitting the mat, he uses many unorthodox standing techniques, which range from superman punches to sprinting flying knees. His technique has also improved over time, as he's shown crisper hands and better footwork as he's come along, to a point where he won't necessarily need to frantically pull guard to ensure victory.
Wiman (14-6, 8-4 UFC) is a fighter who has been around for some time. He is an eight-year veteran of MMA, and 12 of his 20 fights have been under the big lights of the UFC. He is not particularly fearsome in any one area as Sass is, but he doesn't have a single weakness that is easy to exploit. His striking is crisp, his clinch is effective, and his jiu-jitsu is polished.
Wiman has been known to put on entertaining fights, and he's done so with his ability to fight well from all positions. He can bring the fight to good strikers, and he can grapple with the best of them. A difficulty he's had is with fighters that are just a step above, but that doesn't mean he doesn't put up a good fight.
His most recent loss, a unanimous decision he lost to Dennis Siver, had a highly contested judges' decision, and he looked good in the fight while overcoming a striking disadvantage. In that fight, he showed off his ability to compensate for a weakness in one area by using other areas of martial arts to overwhelm and confuse opposition. He landed nearly as many strikes as the more well known striker, while also successfully getting five takedowns and two submission attempts.
As stated above, Wiman creates opportunities for himself by using other components of MMA. Against better grapplers, he can use effective defensive wrestling and crisp striking to defeat his opponent, or he can use that striking to set up safe opportunities to utilize his own ground skills. He also sports a smart and effective clinch game, where he can either attack at high rates or wear down opponents, and it is a valuable tool that adds to his overall game.
When most people look at this fight, it appears to them that Wiman is just another fighter to be thrown into Paul Sass' terrific submission game. If you really look into it, though, Wiman can very well make this a competitive fight, as he sports the more rounded out game. He is a smart enough fighter to know where he is and isn't safe, and he knows how to exploit the weaknesses of opponents.
As Paul Sass and Matt Wiman touch gloves on Saturday, they may very well engage in a fight that covers all components of MMA. Sass' constant attack could definitely pose problems for Wiman, but at the same time, Wiman is probably the most well rounded fighter Sass has yet to face. We will see both fighters pushed in ways most other opponents couldn't do for them, and it could lead to a scrappy fight between two very skilled fighters, which is never a bore to watch.
So long as this fight isn't finished early, we could see quite a battle come Saturday night. And maybe even the UFC on Fuel TV 5 "Fight of the Night."
Beg to differ?
To check out the latest UFC on FUEL TV 5: "Struve vs. Miocic" click here.