Manchester, England welcomes the UFC for the promotion’s fourteenth visit to the UK and features an intriguing bout between hard hitting wrestler Mark Munoz and Brazilian striker Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. The five round main event match was originally slated to feature England’s own, Michael Bisping against Mark Munoz (13-3), but Bisping pulled out of the match due to an eye injury just weeks before the scheduled fight. With a little more than a month before the show, the UFC officials were left scrambling for a replacement.
That’s when former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida (19-4 MMA) answered the call and decided to make the drop to Middle Weight for the first time.
In the night’s co-main event lightweight sluggers Ross Pearson and Melvin Guillard square off in a matchup of hard-hitting strikers eager to continue their ascents further up the rankings after recent wins.
The Fox Sports 2 broadcast also features Light Heavyweights Jimi Manuwa and Ryan Jimmo, longtime UFC vet Alessio Sakara vs. newcomer Nicholas Musoke, flyweights Phil Harris and John Lineker, and the first female matchup in Europe, Rosi Sexton vs. Jessica Andrade on the Facebook Preliminary card.
Lyoto Machida vs. Mark Munoz
With Bisping recovering from a reinjured detached retina in is right eye, the Manchester crowd welcomes Lyoto Machida as he makes is Middleweight debut in the UFC.
Set to welcome him to the Middleweight division is Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz who’s fresh off an impressive unanimous decision win over Tim Boetsch at UFC 162 last July.
Machida looks to bounce back from a disappointing and highly controversial loss to light heavyweight Phil Davis back at UFC 163 and as is often done with fighters in a state of stasis, the Brazilian has chosen to drop down and test the waters in the Middleweight division.
This, along with the fact that Lyoto took the bout on short notice only adds to the intrigue of how he’ll react to fighting at 185 pounds for the first time much less against an always game Mark Munoz.
Mark Munoz’ aggressive wrestling style could very well come into play in a fiver rounder despite the fact that fighters with similar styles have faltered against “The Dragon” in the past.
Munoz’ strong showing against Tim Boetsch and wins over Demian Maia and Chris Leben showed that if he can maintain a grinding, close quarters affair, he can outpace and batter just about anybody in the division.
However, as Ryan Bader, Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz have all learned, catching the Brazilian karate specialist is far easier said than done and Machida enters the bout a solid favorite.
Pearson vs. Guillard
Although local favorites Tom Watson and Michael Bisping both pulled out due to injury, British born Ross Pearson remains as one of the only UK fighters on the main card and faces American Top Team’s newest addition, Melvin Guillard.
Guillard’s last win came by way of a stunning KO of Mac Danzig at UFC on Fox 8 and the victory earned him the Knockout of the Night award, his fifth career Fight Night award.
Before that victory, Guillard struggled, going 1-4 in losses against Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner.
During that period, Guillard also found difficulty finding a suitable, long term training facility and left the south Florida Blackzilian camp before making an unsuccessful bid at returning to Albuquerque’s Jackson Winklejohn MMA. After a brief stint at Colorado’s Grudge training facility, Guillard has returned to the Sunshine State to train at the American Top Team facility in Coconut Creek, Florida.
The newly focused TUF 2 contestant is confident the new training site is what’s needed to put another win streak together but his opponent, Ross Pearson, is certainly looking to please the hometown crowd.
Pearson himself is enjoying a two-fight win streak over the likes of George Sotiropolous and Ryan Couture after returning to lightweight from a brief stretch at featherweight.
Pearson, winner of the USA vs. UK Ultimate Fighter and two Fight of the Night awards, is looking to make Guillard his eleventh win by submission or KO/TKO and although he will be the fan-favorite, he is considered a slight underdog to the American.
More Notes from the Card:
Lineker Misses Weight… Again
Brazilian flyweight John Lineker weighed in at 128 pounds, two pounds over the limit for a flyweight bout. After compiling an impressive three fight win streak (two of those 2nd round TKO’s), Lineker publically stated his view that he would be next in line for a title shot at 125. However, considering that this is the third time Lineker has failed to make weight in his five fight UFC career, it’s safe to assume that even with an impressive win over Portsmouth, England’s Norman Parke, it is decidedly unlikely he’ll receive a title shot.
Alessio Sakara Faces Third Scheduled Opponent
Italian pugilist Alessio Sakara (15-10 MMA) is scheduled to face UFC newcomer Nicholas Musoke (10-2 MMA) in the Main Card’s second bout. The fourteen UFC bout vet was originally set to face Tom Watson but the Brit was forced out of the bout due to injury and was then scheduled to fight Swedish striker Magnus Cedenblad. Less than three weeks away from fight night, Cedenblad himself pulled out due to injury leaving his Swedish countryman Nicholas Musoke as the third fighter scheduled to face Sakara.