It's not often that a mixed martial arts (MMA) match gets overlooked to the extent that one Featherweight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) bout has between Marcus Brimage and Conor McGregor. The two scrappy 145-pound standouts are set to collide this afternoon (April 6, 2013) on the "Prelims" portion of UFC on Fuel TV 9, which takes place at Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
Despite the bunk buzz, "Bama Beast" and "Notorious" are poised to steal the show.
First things first, let's be clear: Brimage and McGregor should not be fighting on the "Prelims" under card. Sure, both might not be as well known as some of their main card contemporaries, but Akira Corassani vs. Robbie Peralta? Peralta may be a legitimate fighter, but the Corassani pairing makes his fight insignificant, whereas Brimage and McGregor is a showdown that showcases two men who should be on the radar as fringe contender threats in such a top-heavy division.
Brimage, a The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 alum, is a fighter who very few expected to succeed, and given the current sad state of promotion's MMA "reality television" franchise, the notion that he'd crash and burn wasn't too farfetched. Despite those doubts, Brimage has been able to defeat two respected prospects -- Maximo Blanco and Jim Hettes -- impressively inside the Octagon.
Currently, Brimage holds a three-fight win streak, including the aforementioned victories, which were both scored as decisions.
For a short, stocky featherweight -- one who could probably compete as a Bantamweight -- Brimage is able to land mostly because of his fleet-footed style and high work rate. He's able to get on the inside because his footwork is very explosive (as well as massively underrated), making him both a hard target to hit and a difficult opponent to predict.
Indeed, "Bama Beast" is swift and versatile, a combination that perhaps catches opponents of their guards. Brimage has the ability to get inside in a matter of moments in a low -- almost square -- stance, allowing him to neutralize the threat of a takedown by simply stuffing under hooks and circling out. His low stance also opens up another avenue for strikes aimed at his opponent's torso. Indeed, Brimage is very sneaky at leading with these body shots and he can also mix them into his combinations rather effectively.
Of course, this can all mean nothing if McGregor is as vicious as inside the Octagon as he has been on the international circuit. McGregor has established a reputation as an incredibly dangerous striker that can best be described as poised and calm.
However, at the same time, he throws with very bad intentions -- "Notorious" has the ability to do serious damage whenever he finds an opening. In addition to pinpoint, crushing punches, the Irishman also utilizes a wide array of kicks, which range from flashy Capoeira-style kicks to more traditional push kicks.
Defensively, McGregor is just as impressive. His hands are always up to protect his face, his head movement and footwork keep him from getting hit, and his counter striking is perhaps the very best of any Featherweight prospect in the sport today. As seen in his one round drubbing of Ivan Buchinger for the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC) Lightweight belt, McGregor's counter strikes are something else, landing a monstrous left hook counter that rendered "Buki" unconscious on the floor (watch it here).
This fight will largely be a stand up contest, and I'd be surprised to see it go to the ground for any extended period of time. McGregor's takedowns are quick and explosive, but with Brimage's low stance and strong defensive wrestling, I just can't see McGregor finding himself on top, and I do not expect Brimage to press for takedowns at all.
If that turns out to be the case, it will spark a fireworks display of striking, with both men throwing violent combinations with bad intentions. While McGregor holds an advantage in technical striking, Brimage's swift attack may be just unorthodox enough to create many opportunities for "Bama Beast" to exploit.
Of course, McGregor and Brimage will have to avoid absorbing power shots at all costs, but ultimately, both men will more than likely be able to get in their shots.
In a rather important fight in the featherweight division, all things considered, expect Marcus Brimage vs. Conor McGregor to steal the show at UFC on Fuel TV 9. Both men are violent strikers, which will no doubt be on display in Sweden this afternoon, leading me to believe it will earn "Fight of the Night' honors in Stockholm.