It's rare to see the UFC take a chance on someone with as few fights as Brian Houston. At 4-0 with 3 quick first round stoppages, Houston certainly appears to have the makings of a bright prospect, but no matter how impressive his fights thus far, he's awfully untested. From what I've seen of his game he's a devastatingly powerful sprawl and brawl striker. He was a college football player at Hampton University with NFL aspirations before an injured senior season saw him embark on a semi-pro football career with the Omaha Beef in Omaha, Nebraska. His professional career as a fighter is only a year old, but he has good size and athleticism for a division that is quickly increasing in competitive depth.
Unfortunately for Houston, to get a good look at the fighter he's developing into one needs to look no further than his opponent, Yoel Romero. Romero had a less than stellar introduction to most MMA fans in an uninspired TKO loss to Light Heavyweight powerhouse Rafael Cavalcante. But after almost two years on the sidelines due, at least in part, to the Strikeforce crossover he made a drop to Middleweight and immediately announced himself as a potential contender with a spectacular knockout of Clifford Starks at UFC on Fox 7. Although he's not much more experienced than Houston (at only 5-1) and is much older at 36, his spectacular athleticism and wealth of wrestling experience appear to have translated expertly into MMA. His striking is crisp, powerful, and accurate; his wrestling is excellent and his lack of time in MMA means that he's relatively fresh in the sport.
It's hard to look at this as anything but a bad matchup for Houston. He's a good prospect, but lacks the top end experience and high-end camps that Romero has access to. Romero also appears to be using his training time expertly to advance his game so it's hard not to expect him to come out a better fighter than we saw last time. I hope the UFC keeps Houston around and finds ways to get him good matchups with equally green competition in the future because I don't expect him to come out of this with the win.