UFC 149: Matt Riddle Vs. Chris Clements Dissection

Riddle x Clements

Enduring too many makeovers to list, the injury plagued UFC 149 card goes live on pay-per-view this Saturday from Calgary, Alberta. Urijah Faber takes on Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight strap in the main event and Bellator crossover Hector Lombard collides with brute Tim Boetsch in the co-main slot. The full PPV lineup is as follows:

Renan Barao vs Urijah Faber
Tim Boetsch vs Hector Lombard
Shawn Jordan vs Cheick Kongo
Brian Ebersole vs James Head
Matt Riddle vs Chris Clements

Matt Riddle (6-3) vs Chris Clements (11-4)

Canadian slugger Chris Clements trained under the late Shawn Tompkins and owns a black belt in Taekwondo (TKD) and 10 of 11 wins via TKO. "The Menace," a wide-bodied welterweight, made his Octagon debut at UFC 145 with a split-decision victory over veteran Keith Wisniewski. The only signs of Clements' TKD background was a medley of spinning back kicks -- one of which landed to the solar plexus and dropped Wisniewski -- and a few spinning back fists.

More UFC 149 Dissections

Faber vs. Barao | Lombard vs. Boetsch | Kongo vs. Jordan
Ebersole vs. Head
| FX & Facebook Prelims

The bulk of his stand up was comprised of ill-intended punches that were more primitive and malicious than pretty. Joe Rogan astutely mentioned Clements' unorthodox "Tomahawk" style of chopping overhand right and, in heated exchanges, the brawler also threw wild, almost waist-level hooks with both hands in rapid succession.

While Clements generally got the better end of the stand up, the equalizer was Wisniewski's clinch trips and top game. Clements was surprisingly effective with elbows in unfavorable positions: he opened a cut on Wisniewski with a short elbow from his guard and intelligently gazed up to the arena's big screen in order to sight-in a nice back-elbow when Wisniewski took his back on the mat.

Continued in the full entry.

SBN coverage of UFC 149

With no professional MMA fights and only some high school and Division 1 wrestling experience, Matt Riddle got an opportunity on TUF 7 and capitalized immediately by shattering Dan Simmler's jaw with one of the nastiest knockouts in the show's history. He was picked off by wily grappler Tim Credeur in the next round but settled a developing grudge with Dante Rivera (who said he'd retire if Riddle beat him) at the live finale with a unanimous decision win.

All 9 of Riddle's outings have transpired in the Octagon. He started out with an impressive 5-1 pace but has since dropped 2 (Sean Pierson, Lance Benoist) of his last 3 with a contentious split decision over Henry Martinez in his last to get Riddle back in the win column. Now 26-years-old and a purple belt under Cameron Diffley, Riddle is training at Pennsylvania's Throwdown team alongside Amir Sadollah and Gilbert Yvel and has won a few smaller grappling tournaments (NAGA, Grappler's Quest and Copa Atlantica).

Riddle is far from a polished mixed martial artist but has done well in his 4-year tenure, as evinced by his 2nd-round TKO of DaMarques Johnson. The rangy southpaw compensates for his lack of experience with excellent instincts, loads of willpower and a tenacious clinch game with good head control, dirty boxing and high knees. In spite of his background in wrestling, Riddle has often employed it in reverse to trade leather on the feet even though his striking fundamentals are average.

On the feet, this should be a game of range with Riddle looking to keep Clements on the fringe with his length or tying him up in close quarters to avoid Clements' boxing wheelhouse. Since neither are known for finesse or footwork, I expect Riddle to wait for Clements to charge in before establishing his left straight or right hook while circling right, away from Clements' power hand. For some variety, Riddle should step in and go high with the Thai clinch when Clements closes the distance or drop levels and shoot takedowns.

Clements seems to have the simple intention of getting in close and unleashing his hands, and does so in a basic way with straight-line attacks. He does mix it up a little by going downstairs with his right hand or flicking out his left and following it up with a spinning back fist. His spinning back was the only distance tool he used against Wisniewski.

Clements might have trouble defending Riddle's takedowns and surviving on the ground. Against Wisniewski, his creativity with elbows from vulnerable positions kept him in the fight but still stands as a risky and incomplete strategy in the long run. Riddle's blend of strength, athleticism and agility make him a legit threat with takedowns and punishment from the top and his growing grasp of position complements his ground striking and submissions.

The big key for Riddle will be keeping the fight at a distance or swarming Clements with clinching and takedowns rather than standing in front of him. Clements is a gamer with fight-ending power in his hands and cleaving elbows at short range, so staying out of Clements' sweet spot should dictate his success. I like Riddle's 6" reach advantage, his more versatile arsenal and his edge on the ground over Clements one-shot power and fairly one-dimensional approach. However, this will be a test of his Fight I.Q. as Clements won't be forgiving of any mistakes, especially in dictating the range.

My Prediction: Matt Riddle by decision.


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