UFC 135 Fight Card Primer: Tony Ferguson vs. Aaron Riley

via video.ufc.tv

One is an Ultimate Fighter winner looking to establish himself in the UFC with a win over a solid veteran. The other is that solid veteran, returning to the cage after 16 months and a rash of injuries. The bout is a classic UFC tactic - newcomer vs. gatekeeper. But this one's a little closer than the usual fare. Tony Ferguson (11-2, 1-0 UFC) will square off with Aaron Riley (30-12-1, 3-4 UFC). 

Neither fighter is currently ranked at lightweight on the USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings, and let's face it, they're probably a while away from even sniffing the elite list. This lightweight UFC 135 fight will be the second fight of the televised part of the broadcast, and will be shown on Spike TV.  The Spike show begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

How do these two stack up?

Ferguson: 27 years old | 6'0" | 76" reach
Riley: 30 years old | 5'8" | 69" reach

What have these two done recently?

Ferguson: W - Ramsey Nijem (KO) | W - Brock Jardine (TKO) | W - David Gardner (TKO)
Riley: W - Joe Brammer (UD) | L - Ross Pearson (TKO) | W- Shane Nelson (UD)

How did these two get here?

Tony "El Cucuy" Ferguson was an NCAA Division 2 national champion wrestler at Grand Valley State that eventually decided to switch to MMA. He compiled a solid 10-2 record and won his way onto The Ultimate Fighter 13, and just kept winning. C'mon, you remember the upkick KO of Justin Edwards on the show. Then all those other TKO's. He might have the lameduck status of winning the weakest Ultimate Fighter ever, but he seems to have the pedigree and the hands to hagd in the UFC. I guess we'll find out if that's true soon enough.

Aaron Riley has been around MMA way too long to only be 30 years old. 14 years and 43 fights have earned Riley the "grizzled veteran" label, and 12 career losses have earned him the "journeyman" label right alongside it. Riley made his UFC debut waaay back in 2002 at UFC 37, where he dropped a decision to Robbie Lawler. After knocking out Michihiro Omigawa with a headkick in Pride, he came back to the UFC and was promptly stopped by Spencer Fisher at The Ultimate Fighter 3 Finale and sent packing again. He was given a third chance at UFC 91 though, and managed to go 3-2 in this stint. Injuries have kept him out for a while, but Riley is back and ready to make a final run.

Why should you care?

Riley is your average well-rounded gatekeeper, and this is his second chance to knock a TUF winner off his perch in his first legit UFC fight (he lost to Ross Pearson shortly after he won TUF 9). If Ferguson can't get by Riley, he doesn't have much hope in the promotion. Will another TUF winner fail spectacularly? Tune in and find out!

You can catch more UFC 135 preview content from Bloody Elbow after the jump.

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