Monday, November 9, 2009

UFC 105 Fight Week Previews: Ross Pearson vs. Aaron Riley

With Strikeforce's debut on CBS over and done with, the focus shifts to the UFC's free offering this weekend on Spike, as UFC 105 hits the airwaves from Manchester, England.
As is always the case with overseas events, the card features the usual suspects like the Pauls (Taylor and Kelly), Dennis Siver and Terry Etim. Joining the mix for the first (and probably not the last time) are the half of Team UK from Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter.

Both Nick Osipczak and Andre Winner return to the Octagon after falling short on the program itself, while winners James Wilks and Ross Pearson hit the cage for the first time since securing their six figure contracts.

Wilks' match-up with Matt Brown goes under the microscope tomorrow; today, we're tackling Pearson's bout with Aaron Riley.

Ross Pearson (9-3-0) vs. Aaron Riley (28-11-1)

While the normal routine of the Fight Week Previews is to break down each fight bit-by-bit, the truth is that both this match-up and the fight featured tomorrow leave little to be dissected.

In every element of the usual analysis, Riley gets the better of Pearson.

He trains with Greg Jackson and Company in Albuquerque, he has just about as many losses as Pearson has fights and he's got 28 wins on top of that.

While Pearson has yet to face anyone whose name rings a bell with even the most hardcore fans, Riley can count the likes of Spencer Fisher, Jorge Gurgel, Eddie Alvarez and Chris Lytle among his opponents.

Not to take anything away from Pearson, a fighter fitting the moniker of "The British Bulldog" if ever there was one, but the lightweight Ultimate Fighter winner is thoroughly beaten on paper.

That being said, fights don't take place on paper, do they?

Riley should be coming into this fight on a five-fight winning streak, but a brutally-quick stoppage the first time he touched gloves with Shane Nelson leaves him riding just the rematch win into England.

Pearson comes in off what is undoubtedly the high point of his career, earning a decision over countryman and fellow UFC 105 participant Andre Winner to claim the lightweight contract back in June.

While it may have been the high point of his career to date, Pearson's performance was simply better than a poor performance from Winner. Neither fighter truly dominated during the 15 minutes they shared in the cage and "The Real Deal" will have to step up his game against the veteran Riley.

While both fighters reach 5'8" on the ruler, the biggest difference-maker come Saturday evening in England might be size.

Though Riley and Pearson will weigh the same when they step on the scales Friday, Riley is a big lightweight who spent the early part of his career competing at welterweight, and that size different played a pivotal part in his domination of Shane Nelson the second time around.

Putting Pearson in this tough is both admirable and a little confusing; while no one wants to see a parade of tomato cans put before the winners of The Ultimate Fighter as was done in the past, you also don't want your latest reality star to take a loss right out the gate.

We'll find out Saturday night whether it was a decision that quickly puts Pearson on the map or leaves him stranded on the sidelines of the lightweight division.

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