Following more than a month-long hiatus in which the only Zuffa action took place on The Ultimate Fighter Live, the UFC returns to action on Fuel TV for UFC on Fuel 2: Gustafsson vs. Silva. Taking center stage is a match-up between Swedish phenom “The Mauler” Alexander Gustafsson (13-1) and returning Brazilian killer Thiago Silva (14-2, 1 NC). “All-American” Brian Stann (11-4) pulled co-main duties against “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-8) while Paulo Thiago (14-3), Siyar Bahadurzada (20-4-1), Dennis Siver (19-8), and “The Gun” Diego Nunes (17-2) anchor the main card with a pair of solid bouts. “One Punch” Brad Pickett (20-6) and “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (15-6) will open the card and TUF alum “The Darkness” DaMarques Johnson (15-9) is set to face off with “The One” John Maguire (17-3) in a welterweight affair. Johnson has made a pedestrian 4-3 mark in the UFC and is in serious need of a second consecutive win to make anything of his career in the organization, but he faces a stern test in the British submission artist John Maguire who took care of his UFC debut jitters at UFC 138 when he increased his winning streak to six. At First Glance: DaMarques Johnson has had a rough go in the UFC, just recently getting himself past the .500 mark again. This is due primarily to the issue that faces many young fighters who are good enough to be dominant at the lower levels but not quite ready for real UFC competition; they make The Ultimate Fighter squad and build up a little hype and a small fan base, ensuring them a multi-fight deal, but then they don’t have the skill to put a strong winning streak together against even mid-level UFC fighters. At seven bouts, “The Darkness” is running out of time to make a mark in the organization that justifies his continued employment. “The One” comes from the complete opposite end of the MMA spectrum. He fought his way up the ranks and carried himself into the UFC by dominating in five consecutive championship title fights after compiling an 11-3 record on the British circuit. The result is two men who need to prove their worth to the UFC in order to build a meaningful career, but Maguire carries all of the momentum into the Octagon on fight night.
In Depth: Johnson is one of the new breed of fighters known as mixed martial artists. Not mixed martial artists in the classical sense, but a mixed martial artist in that he was not a wrestler, or a kickboxer, or a karate-ka, he received almost all of his martial arts training via a purpose built mixed martial arts gym. This means that he is well-rounded, though not in the manner of a fighter who has built a base and expanded, but rather as a Jack-of-All-Trades, Master-of-None. This makes him a nightmare for lower-level fighters, even specialists, who haven’t filled out their skill-set. It also means that he is by default unable to beat a fighter in an area where they have experienced, focused training. This is a major problem when faced with a fighter like Maguire who has a decided advantage in one area, in this case submission grappling, and is good enough to handle himself everywhere else. In his debut, Maguire dominated in the clinch, never letting his opponent gain the space needed to utilize his superior striking, and constantly dragging his foe back to the mat. Johnson is a competent and rangy striker however he lacks the advanced level footwork and distance control to keep Maguire from getting close and putting him on his back. Once on the ground, Maguire is clearly “The One” in this bout as Johnson has struggled on the mat in the past.
Wild Card: Johnson may not be a particularly good striker, but he is rangy, athletic, and has a solid set of basic straight punches and sufficient power to do serious one-punch damage, particularly with low hooks and uppercuts. While Maguire’s stocky, powerful frame makes him a nightmare for Johnson in the clinch, it also means that it is almost a given that he will absorb some punishment each and every time he is forced to break and restart with the American. This means that Johnson has ample chances to rock the Brit, and possesses the athleticism to capitalize on the opportunities that result.
The Verdict: In the end, this math-up is not a good one for the TUF alum. Johnson has decent striking for MMA, but he lacks the advanced-level footwork and range control needed to stifle a powerfully built grappler like Maguire. The opportunity for a quick KO exists in any fight where one fighter has a five-inch reach advantage like Johnson does, but it is far more likely that the tough British champ will absorb a few painful looking shots before dragging his lanky foe to the canvas and submitting him in short order with a power-based submission such as a Kimura or Guillotine Choke. Maguire via Submission (Kimura), Round 1