Cub Swanson (16-5, 1-1 UFC) vs. Ross Pearson (13-5, 5-2)
The Matchup: This looks like a sneaky candidate for “Fight of the Night,” as a pair of featherweights with entertaining standup skills collide. After compiling a 4-2 record in the UFC as a lightweight, Pearson made a successful 145-pound debut by outpointing Junior Assuncao at UFC 141.
There was a stretch in which Swanson endured as much injury misfortune as anyone, with a broken jaw and a mouth infection combining to keep him out for a year, from November 2010 to his return at UFC on Fox 1. After a loss to Ricardo Lamas there, the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts product rebounded with a resounding knockout victory over George Roop at UFC on Fox 2.
Swanson has made it clear that he prefers to entertain the fans with his fights and would rather face opponents who are willing to stand and trade with him. Pearson should be willing to oblige; “The Ultimate Fighter 9” winner is known primarily for his technical boxing. The Brit utilizes a sound jab and solid footwork to rack up points standing, and his toughness -- witness his decision setback to Edson Barboza -- allows him to engage in fan-friendly slugfests.
Swanson actually has a decent ground game. While not the most fundamentally sound grappler, he has an active guard and is adept at creating scrambles on the mat. That said, his overall athleticism gives him confidence to unleash a varied striking attack that includes flashy kicks and powerful punches. It was an overhand right that sent Roop’s mouthpiece flying, and Swanson believes a recently added strength-and-conditioning program has given his standup some extra oomph.
Pearson, while known as a boxer first, is capable of punctuating his combinations with kicks to the legs and body. He is also a solid counterpuncher who can capitalize on his opponent’s mistake should Swanson become overly aggressive. Takedown defense is not Swanson’s strong suit, and Pearson might be able to gain an advantage if he can execute a few timely takedowns and work some disciplined ground-and-pound.
The Pick: Pearson has always been a tough out, but Swanson, after a slip versus Lamas, has the look of a fighter who is making up for lost time. When he harnesses his considerable athletic ability, the Californian will be able to use movement and angles to land his diversified arsenal and keep “The Real Deal” guessing. Swanson wins by decision.
Last Fights » The Prelims