The next fight we are going to preview on the road to UFC Fight Night 15 could be billed as a possible “Loser leaves town” type matchup. Ed Herman versus Alan Belcher is a battle of two UFC middleweights trying to establish solid footing in the burgeoning talent pool of the middleweight division.
Herman (14-6 MMA, 3-3 UFC) was a finalist for season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” losing a tough, back-and-forth decision to Kendall Grove. He was offered and signed a contract with the UFC regardless, and has had fluctuating results since. His first fight after the show, he was systematically taken down and submitted by a fighter who was offered a spot on the same season but passed, Jason MacDonald.
Herman seemed to finally find his stride as a UFC fighter in 2007 with 3 straight wins against increasingly tougher competition, culminating with handing Joe Doerksen his first knockout loss of his career. In came 2008 and a loss to Demian Maia at UFC 83. Not much to take from that loss, as Maia has been exposing everyone he has faced to possibly the best submission game in the middleweight division, if no the whole UFC. Herman has shown his best attributes are his wrestling and overall ground game with improving stand up. He has also shown he still has a way to go with his takedown and submission defense, as well as overall conditioning.
Belcher (12-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC) is a fighter from Biloxi, Mississippi who may be slightly guilty of believing the hype of his nickname a little too much. “The Talent” has had an up and down UFC career starting by filling in for the oft-injured David Terrell at UFC 62 against Yushin Okami. Belcher lost a tough unanimous decision against Okami, but demonstrated that he belonged in the big leagues.
He followed with an impressive head-kick knockout of Jorge Santiago at UFC Fight Night 7, showing his impressive stand up skills also pack knockout power. A bit of a schizophrenic fighter, his performances are very erratic. He has excellent Muay Thai skills and decent wrestling to go with them, but his ground game is very rudimentary as he sports a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He may be an occasional victim of his own overconfidence, as demonstrated in his last fight at UFC 83 where he was to face Patrick Cote.
Cote succumbed to a knee injury two weeks before the fight and he was replaced with Jason Day, a first time UFC fighter. Belcher looked visibly relaxed and somewhat sloppy in the early going as Day asserted himself on the ground and then surprised Belcher on the feet with a hard elbow that open the floodgates to an impressive TKO victory over Belcher.
Both fighters come in with big expectations in the UFC. They are also coming off of disappointing losses with a “must-win” mentality and maybe just a little something to prove to themselves as well as everyone else. The oldest adage in our sport applies here, as it is striker versus grappler in this bout. Whoever can control the flow of this fight will win, with Herman wanting to take down Belcher and work his ground and pound while Belcher will try to keep it standing and work for the knockout on his feet with his superior striking.
Who wins the position battle? In my opinion Belcher has just enough take down defense to stave off a rather average single leg takedown that Herman possesses. This should enable him to expose Herman on the feet. Herman does not have a great chin as he has shown time and time again in his losses, and was even rocked a few times in his win over Doerksen. Belcher has very good knockout power in both his hands and feet, and should be able to keep the fight standing long enough to win via TKO.
Herman has very good potential that he has never seemed to be able to reach at Team Quest. I think he needs a change of surroundings with a new striking coach that can get through to him. I look for Belcher to win via TKO in round 2 and possibly give Herman a chance to look for that new camp after another disappointing loss.