Friday night the UFC returns to the birthplace of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts as UFC on FX 4: Maynard vs. Guida hits the Garden State of New Jersey. Opening the main card action is a featherweight brawl between “The Real Deal” Ross Pearson (13-5) and Cub Swanson (16-5). Playing the role of anchor is a welterweight affair between the harbinger of the hairrow “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (49-14-1) and TJ Waldburger (15-6). The main event will feature 155er “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-1-1) against “The Carpenter” Clay Guida (29-12), but before they meet two other lightweights will face off in the center of the Octagon: “The King” Spencer Fisher (24-8) and “Hands of Stone” Sam Stout (17-7-1).
At First Glance: The last bout before the main event is one of two things. It is either a co-main feature that holds as much if only slightly less significance than the headliner, or it’s a fight that is billed purely for its entertainment value, often as a way to make up for a less than promising main event that is nevertheless necessary to the title picture. This bout is the latter of the two. Guida, though energetic and fast-paced, is still a grinding wrestler. Maynard is known for his fights doubling as barbiturates. However, each man is near the top of the title heap so a bout is needed. To keep fans appeased, Zuffa has offered a third meeting between “Hands of Stone” Sam Stout and “The King” Spencer Fisher. Their first two bouts were among the most entertaining in the lightweight division’s history and the third was likely booked for that reason alone as neither man is exactly banging at the champion’s door.
In Depth: Stout and Fisher have gone the distance twice and put fans on their feet twice in the process. Neither man shows even a slight interest in taking the fight to the mat. Stout likes to fight a war of Muay Thai attrition by punishing the legs and body of his opponent in the pocket. He doesn’t pack the one-punch power, but everything he lands does damage and adds up over time. Fisher is a more mobile striker and lands with a good deal more power. He also tends to throw fewer strikes per salvo than Stout. In their first pairing, this won the fight for “The King”. He was able to evade the majority of Stouts attack’s and landed big telling shots on the exit. He also showed a tremendous ability to shrug off the punishment of three rounds of damaging body shots. In the second bout, he survived, but he got drawn into pocket wars with the Canadian brawler and paid the price on the judges’ cards for his inability to match Stout’s volume. As with the last two meetings, Stout will fight the exact same fight and it’s up to Fisher to counter it effectively.
The Wild Card: At 36, Spencer Fisher is well past his prime as a fighter. He has also been in more than his fair share of gritty, ugly brawls with 13 of his 32 bouts finding their end with strikes. Most of the decisions on his record were barroom-style brawls as well. This has taken a toll in injuries and general wear and tear on “The King’s” body. From 2002 to 2009, Spencer never dropped two fights in a row and lost only four fights. He was finished in just one of those fights. From late 2009 to 2012, however, Fisher has gone 1-4 and has been finished twice.
The Verdict: Time makes fools of us all, fighters more so than others. While Spencer Fisher may or may not be joining many well-known fighters on the list of warriors who stayed on the battlefield well past their time to retire, it certainly has the look of heading that way. He is skilled and has the power to put away his opponents, but he has slowed down and injuries have taken their toll. As a result, the final chapter of the Stout/Fisher trilogy will likely be far more one-sided than the first two. Fisher could shock the MMA world by performing like he did years ago, but those are long odds to gamble on. Stout via Unanimous Decision