British standout and The Ultimate Fighter season 9 winner Ross Pearson (11-3, 3-0 UFC) will look to continue his unbeaten streak in the UFC as he battles The Ultimate Fighter season 5 contestant Cole Miller (16-4, 5-2 UFC) in the opening bout of the UFC Fight Night 22 main card on Wednesday night. Both Pearson and Miller are coming off impressive performances as Pearson avoided the powerful and dynamic striking abilities of Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 21 to earn himself an unanimous decision victory while Miller submitted Dan Lauzon in the first round of their UFC 108 clash. The bout won't serve as a meaningful divisional battle, but a loss for Pearson would certainly derail his chances at a quick rise to the middle of the division while giving Miller two straight wins and a likely shot at some better competition.
Fortunately for Pearson, I don't see a huge threat in Miller in this match-up. While Miller is certainly a fighter who can pull off slick submissions on the ground, his striking skills will likely be his demise in this fight. As noted in the lead-up to this fight, Pearson has already spoken about his strategy against Miller, and it runs along the same lines as the game plans he implemented against Dennis Siver and Aaron Riley. Fast feet and fast hands, meaning we'll probably see Pearson throw punches from range and pepper Miller over the course of three rounds.
Miller's counter to those types of opponents is his grappling prowess, but Pearson's takedown defense and wrestling ability isn't exactly green. He's fairly strong, knows how to sprawl quite effectively, and the fact that he strikes from a distance only helps his strategy of maintaining his feet. He's improved considerably in both his stand-up game and ability to stuff takedowns, but that isn't to say he's invulnerable to some more creative ways of bringing him to the mat.
Miller will need to close distance to make that happen or lull Pearson into a false sense of security. In any case, I don't think Miller will be able to implement that type of gameplan, mainly because we haven't seen Pearson deviate from his own gameplan in any of his three appearances in the Octagon. He's fairly discipline in maintaining range and staying away from his opponent's strengths.
In the end, this is another fight in Ross Pearson's progression up the ladder. He should have all the advantages with the exception of getting into a dangerous situation on the ground in which Miller has control of a limb. If Miller can't gain that position or get Pearson to the ground, look for Pearson to pepper him on the feet and win via decision.