Yves Edwards (right) file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
You like fights. UFC Fight Night 22 is this Wednesday on Spike. If all goes according to plan, there will be fights.
When you break things down nice and simple like, life becomes easy. Regardless of what you’re doing come Wednesday, it better involve watching this quality lineup. While the prelims aren’t guaranteed to make the broadcast, nothing in life is guaranteed except for the torrent of hate mail coming my way.
In other words, read this preview, get your knowledge right and hope for some speedy main card fights. It’s just the right thing to do.
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Yves Edwards vs. John Gunderson
About six years ago Edwards was considered the uncrowned lightweight champion of the UFC after edging out Hermes Franca and knocking out Josh Thomson with what can only be described as a flying thug-jitsu kick. Since then Edwards has gone 9-8. Most of the blame lies not on physical depreciation but instead on his bizarre predilection for going right along with his opponent’s strategy.
It’s a mental weakness that could cost him in his return to the Octagon against Gunderson, who has the sort of top-control-centric grappling that has stifled Edwards many times before. The real key to this fight, however, is Edwards’ takedown defense, which has been, at best, suspect of late. This is the same guy who was getting double-legged by Luis Palomino in Bellator, and while Gunderson doesn’t have some otherworldly penetration step, he’s a great example of how far some basic transitional wrestling can get you in MMA.
There isn’t much in the way of flash when it comes to the tragically nicknamed “Guns.” Gunderson is going to come out, pump a few jabs, change levels for a single leg and keep switching takedown techniques until one sticks. From there it’s no-frills top control highlighted by solid guard-passing and constant offensive activity. While he’s not about to score a submission, the native Oregonian has the style to shut down the guard of Edwards, who often resorts to a passive closed guard instead of using his length and skill to create scrambles and submission opportunities.
The offensive dynamism that was once synonymous with the American Top Team disciple is long gone. In its stead is a pure counter-fighting style that struggles against anyone willing to take Edwards down. That’s not to say Edwards is completely hopeless, especially when taking into account Gunderson’s tendency to fall apart when he can’t impose his kind of fight. In his bout with Rafaello Oliveira, any semblance of offense disappeared for Gunderson as soon as Oliveira took top control and that was hardly the first time he stalled out for 15 minutes straight.
Typically, that scenario materializes when Gunderson is forced to work off his back. While Edwards can hit the occasional takedown, he has never been the type to change levels every chance he gets. Even worse is Edwards’ frustrating passivity on the feet, which keeps him from landing anything significant and simultaneously gives his opponents plenty of time to line up a takedown.
If nothing else, Gunderson won’t fight to his own detriment, and that right there is why he’s going to win this fight. There is no question that Edwards is more versatile and dynamic, but that’s of little use when he’s standing outside the pocket flicking the occasional jab. It won’t be the most aesthetically pleasing fight ever, but Gunderson should be able to grind out a decision win.