Paul Felder vs Ross Pearson Preview and Analysis – UFC 191

Paul-FelderHeadlining UFC 191’s preliminary card, which will be televised on Fox Sports 1, is an exciting lightweight matchup between two of the best strikers in the division, Paul Felder and Ross Pearson. Felder lost a close fight to Edson Barboza in his latest outing, but he can take comfort in the fact that he was very competitive with one of the best strikers in the world. Pearson, meanwhile, is coming off a loss to Evan Dunham in July, as Dunham outgrappled a clearly frustrated Pearson for three rounds and picked up a unanimous decision win. Both fighters will look to get back in the win column on Saturday night.   Paul Felder (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC, -440 favorite) Felder has been quite impressive in his brief three fight UFC career. Paul started off with a split decision win over Canadian Jason Saggo in October of last year. That fight showcased Felder’s underrated takedown defense, scrambling ability, and ground and pound. Up until that point he had been known primarily as a diverse striker with knockout power. That assessment would hold true in his next outing, as he put Danny Castillo to sleep with a well-timed spinning backfist at UFC 182 in January. That fight earned him a “performance of the night” bonus and a $50,000 check from the UFC. Felder’s most recent appearance was a decision loss to Edson Barboza in a thrilling back and forth affair. That loss was highly disappointing to Paul, as it was the first loss of his career and he felt like he did enough to win. He will now get right back into the Octagon only six weeks after his loss to Barboza. Felder is one of the most diverse strikers in the lightweight division. The Philadelphia native is dangerous from range and in the pocket. From range he excels with various types of kicks to all levels, including a whipping right leg kick and great spinning kicks to the head and body. In the pocket he works a crisp jab, left hook, and straight right hand. Additionally, he throws sneaky standing elbows and spinning backfists. Felder is also defensively sound on the feet, as he keeps a tight guard and utilizes efficient movement and footwork. Barboza was able to tag Felder with several kicks to the body, but he was able to guard his head very well. Barboza was also the best fighter Paul had faced to that point by a large margin. As I previously mentioned, the 31 year old Felder is an underrated grappler. He has very good takedown defense, both in the center of the Octagon and against the fence. He has excellent hips and strength in his upper body. Felder’s takedown defense allows him to keep his fights on the feet, which is where he obviously prefers to be. When he does get taken down, Paul stays active by throwing tight elbows to his opponent’s head and creating space to get back to his feet. While he does not go for takedowns himself, he is adept at reversing takedowns and winding up in top position. From there he has powerful ground and pound but is not a slick guard passer or much of an offensive submission threat.   Ross Pearson (17-9 (1 NC) MMA, 9-6 (1 NC) UFC, +350 underdog) Pearson is a longtime UFC veteran that has had mixed success in the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion. Ross first made an appearance in front of UFC fans on season nine of The Ultimate Fighter, which was a competition between fighters from the United States and the United Kingdom. Pearson performed remarkably on the show, as he went on to win the show by defeating fellow Englishman Andre Winner in the finals. Ross has compiled an 8-6 record, including one no contest, since the show. All but two of those fights have come in the lightweight division, which might be the most talent stacked division in the UFC. Pearson holds notable victories over Gray Maynard, Dennis Siver, Sam Stout, and George Sotiropoulos. Like Felder, Pearson prefers to keep his fights on the feet and trade strikes with his opponent. The Englishman takes much more of a boxing approach than Felder, as he primarily uses his hands to win fights. He is smooth in the pocket and throws a crisp jab and straight right hand. Additionally, he has an excellent counter left hook, which was the punch that put Sam Stout’s lights out in March. Much of Ross’ game revolves around his counter-punching, which is very efficient because of his timing and awareness in the pocket. From a defensive standpoint, Pearson is hittable, especially with kicks and well-timed counter-punches. That has led to him getting knocked out three times in his career. The 30 year old Pearson is defensively solid on the ground, but he can be exploited in that realm by more experienced grapplers. Ross’ takedown defense has always been hit or miss depending on how good of a wrestler his opponent was. Pearson has little to offer from his back from an offensive standpoint; he mainly looks to create space and get back to his feet. While his guard retention has been acceptable in some cases, better grapplers have been able to pass his guard and achieve dominant positions. However, Pearson has only been submitted once in his UFC career, which is pretty impressive considering some of the positions he has found himself in over the years.   Thoughts This should be an exciting affair for however long it lasts. Both fighters prefer to stand and trade with their opponents and that is exactly what is going to happen here. Felder is very tough and durable; he never likes to take a step backwards. While Ross is good at countering his opponent in the pocket with punches, he lacks much of a game from range. Felder, meanwhile, has a much more varied offensive attack. He can exchange in the pocket and strike from range. Further, Felder is much more durable, as he has shown a sturdy chin while Pearson has been knocked out three times and dropped on several other occasions. I see Felder’s constant pressure and more diverse striking attack wearing down the Englishman and ultimately landing something big in the second round that closes the show.   The Prediction: Paul Felder defeats Ross Pearson by knockout (round two)

Written by Mike James

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