clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Diggin’ Deep on UFC on FOX 22: Van Zant vs. Waterson - Main card preview

Get the scoop on the first half of the main card of UFC on FOX: Van Zant vs. Waterson, as MMA legend Urijah Faber prepares for the final contest of his illustrious career against fellow veteran Brad Pickett.

MMA: UFC 203-Faber vs Rivera John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest name on the card for real fight fans isn’t Paige Van Zant or Michelle Waterson, despite them participating in the main event. No, the former face of the WEC, Urijah Faber. is calling it a career following this contest in his hometown of Sacramento. The longtime top contender has been competitive up to the end, losing only to the elite of the division. In hopes of him going out on a high note, the UFC is giving him a favorable contest against another shopworn vet in Brad Pickett. If you’ve enjoyed watching Faber over his career, this is your last chance to see the all-time great one more time.

That isn’t the only attraction for the first half of the main card. Mike Perry and Alan Jouban are two sluggers who don’t know how to be in a boring contest. Now they open the main card as a strong favorite to take home FOTN bonus money. Trust me, if you eliminate status or nostalgia, this is absolutely the fight you want to see.

The main card starts at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT

Urijah Faber (33-10) vs. Brad Pickett (25-12), Bantamweight

We all know that Faber is calling it a career after this contest. But is it possible that we’re seeing Brad Pickett in the cage for the last time as well? The wily Brit has openly discussed the possibility of retirement recently. He has dropped four of his last five after all….

While it is true that Faber has visibly lost a step – maybe even two – he is going to be facing a fellow shopworn veteran. In other words, he is being set up to look good in his swan song and I have no problem with that. Few have been more adept in a scramble that the leader of Team Alpha Male, his ability to get the back or snatch ahold of a neck being trademarks of his. Well, it was. Faber has been unable to create or capitalize on those situations. As I’ve already hinted, he should be able to find some success in that field against Pickett due to Pickett’s declining abilities.

Pickett is often mistaken for a brawler. Though he has had a tendency to be drawn into that type of fight, he’s more similar to Faber than most would think. Though not as technical or powerful as Faber as a wrestler, Pickett exhibits good timing in his shots, often chaining his attempts together until he finishes the job. In terms of pure BJJ, he’s an underrated practitioner and probably holds the edge over Faber in that regard.

On the feet, both have been far more prone to being rocked or stumbled than they were in their prime. Faber has more natural power in his hook-heavy boxing, often used to cover his takedowns. Faber’s technique has regressed since the nasty separation of Duane Ludwig from Team Alpha Male as his combinations have pretty much disappeared. Pickett has always been a volume puncher due to his lack of power. His technique is solid enough that he can hurt or put down his opponent if he lands in just the right spot, but he’s more likely to be put out at this stage as his chin continues to deteriorate.

Knowing there is a strong possibility that this is the final contest for both men, I don’t want to pick one over the other as I’d like to see both end their illustrious careers on wins. Faber’s notorious durability isn’t what it once was, but it has held up far better than Pickett’s. I see Faber eventually landing a bomb on the Englishman and finishing him with either a RNC or a guillotine, ending his career with one of his signature submissions. Faber via submission of RD2

Alan Jouban (14-4) vs. Mike Perry (9-0), Welterweight

Violence is promised to grace us when these two hard hitters step in the cage. Jouban has been knocking on the door of the official UFC rankings while Perry came out of nowhere to proclaim himself one of the top young prospects in the sport. The biggest surprise will be if this goes the distance.

Perry was someone whom most pundits weren’t very high on upon making his way into the UFC. It never had anything to do with his physical gifts, those were always very much in abundance. No, it was his lack of diversity in his striking and wrestling in addition to his plodding style that left him open to being pieced up by an experienced striker. Two wins over experienced strikers later and the narrative has been flipped on its head. The technical deficiencies are still there, but he makes up for it with timing, toughness, raw power, and a major upturn in his aggression. The scariest thing about the 25-year old is he hasn’t been fighting long, giving him a very high ceiling.

Jouban is a similar fighter in that he is aggressive with massive power in his punches, but there are subtle differences worth noting. For example, Jouban does a fantastic job of piecing together punching combinations with the occasional kick as opposed to Perry’s single shots. Where Jouban truly shines is in the clinch as he generates an ungodly amount of power in a short distance, piecing up his opponent with short punches and elbows that have surprising KO power.

Neither really ever looks to take the fight to the ground, though Jouban allegedly would have the advantage. I say allegedly as so little has been seen of Perry on the ground besides some vicious ground strikes. Jouban has a reputation as a skilled BJJ practitioner, though it has rarely been seen in an actual fight. Don’t expect either to go for a takedown unless they have been hurt and shoot out of desperation. Given how poor both of their striking defense is, that wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Easily the contest I’m most eager to consume, it is impossible to predict who wins as both swing with reckless abandon. It all depends on who gets caught cleanly. Perry has shown a tough chin and while Jouban has shown the same, he has also shown that his chin can be cracked. I would think he’d begin going downhill soon at the age of 35. Perhaps now starts that decline.… Perry via KO of RD1