which commences at 3 p.m. ET this Saturday from Stockholm, Sweden, is a bantamweight brawl pitting 2, Brad Pickett vs. Damacio Page.
The consensus MMA rankings assess Pickett as the #9 and Page as the #20 bantamweight in the world. The former WEC standouts are both well rounded, experienced, well trained, bullheaded and diverse athletes with one-shot knockout power. Coincidentally, each have been relatively inactive due to random injuries. Since 2010, Pickett has competed 4 times while Page has made just 2 appearances.
They also share common opponents in Scott Jorgensen and Demetrious Johnson. Page's frenetic scrambling and active guard facilitated a win over Jorgensen where as Pickett didn't have an answer for the D1 wrestler (both were decisions). Conversely, Page was submitted by Johnson and Pickett sprawled and brawled his way to a unanimous decision.
Page, a Greg Jackson product, has a highly under-rated takedown and clinch game. Since tapping to a Genki Sudo triangle in K-1 circa 2006, Page has won 7 of 10 that includes a KO over Bellator's Marcos Galvao, a submission over Will Campuzano and double-guillotine losses to Brian Bowles. With the exception of Jorgensen, Page has finished every win (8 TKOs, 6 subs).
After Pickett lost to Hideo Tokoro by submission in K-1 back in 2007, he's won 10 of 12 with only Jorgensen and Renan Barao accounting for his defeats. However, most of that streak took place in the UK-based Cage Rage and Ultimate Challenge promotions.
Gifs and analysis in the full entry.
Though he's not absent skill, Page is a rugged brawler. He unloads a frenzied volley of massive overhands, high kicks and flying knees as he does against Bowles to the right.
He's never been stopped by strikes, though 5 of his 6 losses are by submission. His bulletproof beard affords him the luxury of putting his head down and swinging for the fences. His pace and conditioning have always been solid, so Page will generally be whirling massive strikes from start to finish at a steady rate.
The other traits that allow Page to get away with being reckless are his tremendous balance, strength and clinch game.
He hits a nice Harai Goshi against the slippery "Mighty Mouse" to the left. His clinch prowess along with the aforementioned scrambling he used to keep Jorgensen at bay are hearty weapons, albeit rarely implemented. If Page had his way, he'd stand and wang 'til the cows come home, and Pickett shares that mentality.
Though he's also a high-voltage pressure striker, Pickett is more methodical and brandishes a tight and technical boxing arsenal. He will throw knees in the clinch and at close range, but his typical strategy is to intently study his opponent's tendencies and rattle off a variety of crisp counters as they advance. Pickett follows the basic boxing handbook and targets all levels with counter punching. While every fighter basically tries to punch his adversary in the head, Pickett has a knack for gauging his foe, making on-the-fly adjustments and snapping quick and accurate punches through their defense.
That's one sign of his strong fight I.Q. and another is the way he mixes in takedowns (left). Pickett actually opens up more opportunities for his striking by springing for well-timed double legs, which gives the defender another dimension to be concerned with. He starts off committing himself to explosive combinations to get his opponent back on his heels or stationary while deflecting blows, then drops levels and rifles deep into the pocket. Submission-wise, I gained a newfound respect for Pickett's ground game after he caught Kyle Dietz with a Peruvian Necktie at WEC 45.
There are a lot of commonalities between Pickett and Page: they're dangerous strikers with deceiving capabilities in the clinch and on the ground. Standing, Page will swing for the fences and Pickett will use angles and head movement to counter. They're both tanks in the clinch; Page might be susceptible to submissions but I'm not sure Pickett can or will attempt to exploit that.
I was thinking Page when this was first announced, but his idle schedule and the style match up have me leaning toward Pickett. Someone is going down if either land flush so I see this as almost a pick-em fight.
My Prediction: Brad Pickett by decision.
All gifs via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com