On December 10, the UFC will bring together two of its most storied light heavyweights of the new era when “Bones” Jon Jones (14-1) defends his title against the last fighter before him to successfully defend the belt, “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (17-2). Also taking the stage are Frank Mir (15-5) and “Minotauro” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-6-1) in a rematch of their 2008 heavyweight battle. In another light heavyweight tilt, former champion “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (16-9-1) and “Little Nog” Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (18-5) will square off with different things to prove as the twilight of their careers descends. Opening the main Pay-Per-View card, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (11-3) pits his granite jaw against the steel hands of former WEC stand-out “The Machine” Mark Hominick (19-8). Not to be lost in the midst of so many exciting, high profile fights, welterweight warriors Brian Ebersole (43-14-1) and Claude Patrick (14-1) will face each other with a possible title contention berth on the line.
At First Glance: It is always an exciting prospect to see two fighters who reached the same level at the same time from two totally different means meet in the cage. Claude Patrick came up fighting in club shows as the out-of-towner brought in to lose to the hometown kid but walked out the winner nearly every time. In almost ten years, he has officially fought 15 times, finished 12 opponents, and earned the respect and accolades of training partner and UFC Welterweight Champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (22-2). He wasn’t exactly fast tracked, but he has advanced rapidly through the ranks in part due to his gym and training partners and in part due to his exceptional skills. Ebersole, by contrast, fought long and hard to make it to the UFC. Starting in 2000, Ebersole has fought 58 times and never been KO’d and after 11 years, finally made it to the UFC from the local circuits. He came from a rather mundane wrestling background and fought for a long time out of a small gym of no repute before spending five years fighting on the Australian scene. He defeated and faced several UFC vets on the way up, but always went unnoticed. While neither is Rudy nor Cam Newton, Patrick is definitely the highly touted prospect who sees NFL playtime in his first season while Ebersole is the hard nosed walk-on who never played college ball and made the big show after several seasons toiling away on the practice squad. The two men have almost no hype, and it is always good for the fans when a match features two hard working fighters who are all merit, no rep.
In Depth: Crazy chest hair and cartwheel kick aside, Ebersole is a no-nonsense, meat and potatoes kind of fighter. He grinds his opponents into mush by fighting them everywhere. He is always looking to do damage no matter what position or stage the fight is in; even if all he is managing at the time is up punches while mounted, Ebersole doesn’t let his foe rest for a single second between the bells and it tells as the fight wears on. Patrick, on the other hand, is a more cerebral fighter. He blends his rangy outside striking with a solid submission game and has used the pair in tandem to finish all but two of his 14 victims. While he is no stranger to hard work in the cage, Patrick has a vast disadvantage in experience and also has yet to face a hard-nosed workhorse like Ebersole. That Patrick is the more technically skilled fighter is without doubt, but whether or not he can handle the constant grind that Ebersole brings to the cage without wilting under the pressure has yet to be seen. In the end, the answer to that question will be the determining factor at the final bell.
Wild Card:Patrick is a tight, technical, fighter built to capitalize on even the slightest mistakes. While Ebersole is the kind of guy who comes in to win a fight, not a match, and looks to hurt his opponent at every opportunity, he also has a whimsical streak that could land him in hot water with the Canadian fighter. Crazy cartwheel kicks and comical gestures to both the crowd and his opponents are hallmarks of the entertaining show that Ebersole brings, but they are also completely unnecessary lapses in intelligent defense that Claude Patrick can exploit to great effect.
The Verdict: Brian Ebersole has proven that he is not to be taken lightly, despite his tendency to make a joke of his time in the cage. He may not take himself seriously in the cage, but his opponent had better or he will find himself getting pummeled into the mat from all angles. Patrick is the perfect foil for that. He takes every fight seriously and will not get distracted by anything as he looks for a quick finish to the fight – the only question is if he can survive the relentless assault of Brian Ebersole long enough to find and take advantage of that opening. Ebersole via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3