There aren’t a ton of new faces on this Saturday’s UFC 127 card, but the three newcomers lucky enough to recently sign their lives away to Zuffa, LLC. all seem capable of making notable first impressions. Find out more about this trio of veterans after the jump and let us know how you think they’ll do with your own comments …
BRIAN EBERSOLE (WW)
Experience: Loads of it. Ebersole rolls in with a pro record of 46-14-1-1, including stops in Strikeforce, IFL, King of the Cage, Shooto and just about every other independent MMA promotion you can name. He hails from Illinois, but 15 of his last 16 fights have been overseas (almost all of them in Australia). He beat Carlos Newton at Impact FC last July and is riding a seven fight win streak. Unfortunately, aside from Newton he doesn’t have a ton of recent victories over anybody we’ve heard of before. You have to go back to 2005 to find back-to-back wins over journeymen Matt Horwich and Alex Serdyukov. Recent losses include Hector Lombard (2008), Alex Schoenauer (2007) and Kyle Noke (2006).
Will be facing: Chris Lytle (30-17-5, 9-9 UFC)
Lowdown: Even as a late replacement for Carlos Condit, Ebersole is a serious dude. He’ll be skilled enough in all phases – not to mention owning an advantage in the lankiness department – to be dangerous. He also clearly enjoys a good laugh, as you can tell from the heel promo he cuts on his way to the cage against Lombard. As an addendum to yesterday’s Gambling Addiction Enabler, we’re hearing that Lytle may have had knee surgery as recently as three weeks ago … so maybe Ebersole looks a little better going off at +205 now …
(Ebersole vs. Noke. Fight starts at 3:55, but watch the beginning to see Ebersole literally sit through his in-ring introduction)
RIKI FUKUDA (MW)
Experience: The current DEEP middleweight champion brings a 17-4 record compiled exclusively in Japan, save three fights in Hawaii and one in Mississippi. He’s fought for all the usual suspects – Dream, Pancrase, K-1, Shooto – and went 1-1 in EliteXC in 2007-08. The loss there was a decision to Joey Villasenor. Fukuda is 7-0 since 2008, with five wins by decision and two by TKO. Though he comes from a wrestling background, he ain’t afraid to throw down.
Will be facing: Nick Ring (10-0, 0-0 UFC)
Lowdown: Technically both guys are Octagon noobs, but we know what Ring is about after his stint on “TUF” was cut short by a wobbly knee. People keep talking about him like he’s the goods, but we’re going to take a wait-and-see approach. Meanwhile, we like what little we’ve seen from Fukuda, especially the ground and pound stylings in the bottom vid. If nothing else, he should make things fun.
(Fukuda vs. Ryuta Sakurai, where Sakurai falls out of the ring not once, but twice. The first time he hits his face on the ring bell. The second time, he hits his head on the floor. The result? A win for Fukuda. That’s Japan for you.)
(Fukuda vs. Sato)
TOM BLACKLEDGE (LHW)
Experience: Blackledge is one of the core members of the Wolfslair and served as an assistant coach during Rampage Jackson’s disastrous turn on “TUF 10.” He’s 10-6 overall – including a loss to Stefan Struve back in 2007, when Struve must have been like 13 — but what he lacks in strength of record he makes up for with sheer excitement. Blackledge has only been out of the first round once in his entire career. He’s got a handful of submissions, but striking looks like his bread and butter. He’s British, what did you expect?
Will be facing: Anthony Perosh (also 10-6, 0-1 UFC)
Lowdown: Well, clearly Blackledge likes to kick people in the head (see below). His knockout of Enoc Solves was voted the top KO of 2009 in the M-1 Challenge series by … whoever it is that votes on that sort of thing. History tells us his bout with Perosh (who himself has only been to decision twice, and lost both times) ain’t going anywhere near the distance. Look for this one to get some PPV time if the UFC finds itself in need of filler.
(Blackledge vs. Enoc Solves)
(Blackledge vs. Tom Howard)