Brian Ebersole (49-14-1, 3-0 UFC) vs. T.J. Waldburger (15-6, 3-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Ebersole looks to add to his 10-fight winning streak against Waldburger, a slick grappler with prolific submission ability. A 65-fight veteran, Ebersole has already proven he can hold his own with ground specialists during his brief UFC tenure, surviving precarious positions in victories against the likes of Chris Lytle and Claude Patrick.
Waldburger has won three of four in the Octagon; his lone defeat came at the hands of top welterweight contender Johny Hendricks via first-round knockout. With five of his six career defeats coming in similar fashion, the Texan’s chin has proven to be somewhat suspect. It should not be too much of an issue against Ebersole, a former collegiate wrestler who uses his standup primarily to initiate clinches and set up takedowns. Waldburger will want to follow a similar game plan, and much of his success rides on his ability to make the wrestler fight from his back.
The former Shark Fights 170-pound champion has shown just enough striking to keep his foes off balance, landing a counter left hand to set up a body lock takedown versus Jake Hecht at UFC on FX 2 and connecting with a low kick before taking Mike Stumpf’s back at UFC Fight Night 25. Ebersole, with a vast array of experience against foes of all sizes, is far more seasoned than most of Waldburger’s UFC competition to date, however.
Ebersole’s wrestling is his trump card, and he has also proven himself capable of reversing position when he finds himself on bottom. Look for Ebersole to be effective in the clinch, as well, softening up Waldburger with elbows, punches and knees before forcing the action to the mat for some ground-and-pound.
The Pick: Waldburger will need to be active off his back, but Ebersole is smart enough not to get caught in anything serious. He wins by stoppage in round three.
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