Every Wednesday, The MMA Corner’s Duncan Price will bring a view of the MMA world from across the pond in England, covering well-known British fighters within the UFC and Strikeforce, and also looking at significant events put on by British promotions within the borders of the United Kingdom.

UFC 138 Special

UFC 138 takes place this coming Saturday, Nov. 5, from the LG Arena in Birmingham, England. With the date fast approaching, it is only right that we designate this week’s Brits & Pieces to previewing the much anticipated event.

The History

Mark Munoz (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

In the winter of 2010, Marshall Zelaznik, head of the UFC’s United Kingdom division at the time, went on record to say that he believed that the company would hold four to six events in the UK during 2011. Initially that statement was revised to four to six events in Europe and by June, Zelaznik was forced to admit that there may not be a single UFC event throughout the whole of Europe this year.

Just over a month later the news broke that we would get a European event after all and it would take place in Birmingham, England, which had previously hosted UFC 89. This time, rather than utilise the National Indoor Arena in the city centre, the promotion secured the larger 16,000-seat LG Arena located within the grounds of the National Exhibition Centre located on the outskirts of the city.

The event began to take shape from then onwards as several current British UFC combatants were added to the card, as well as some lesser known home-grown prospects.

Chris Leben (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

The main event was later announced as Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz. To many fans this came as a bit of a letdown, even after the UFC revealed that it would be the very first non-title five-round fight in the promotion’s history. The relative weakness of the bout coupled with the lack of international talent on the remainder of the card left some questioning the commitment of the UFC to the European market.

Subsequent injuries to John Hathaway, Paul Taylor, Pascal Krauss, Oli Thompson, James Head and Mark Scanlon have depleted the card further, but the UFC managed to find stand-ins for all but two of the original twelve contests. The casualties were John Hathaway vs. Matt Brown, and more recently Paul Taylor vs. Anthony Njokuani, which both had to be scrapped as it was too close to the event to find adequate replacements.

Whilst questions remain over the future intentions of the UFC in European and British markets, it is undeniable that the fans here are desperate to see some top MMA action.

The Veterans

Since this is Brits & Pieces, we are going to concentrate on the fighters from the UK. All told there are three British competitors at UFC 138 who have at least one UFC fight under their belt, namely Terry Etim, Jason Young and Rob Broughton.

Terry Etim (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

When it comes to Octagon experience, lightweight Terry Etim is certainly up there, as he has fought in the UFC no less than eight times. Until a loss to Rafael Dos Anjos in his latest appearance, he was riding a three-fight win streak that included victories over Sam Stout and Justin Bucholz. Etim is a rangy striker who can also use his long limbs to attempt the occasional submission, although he would prefer to keep the action standing where possible.

Even for a heavyweight, Rob Broughton is a rather robust guy. Put it this way, in terms of physique, he’s more like Roy Nelson than Cheick Kongo. There is no denying that the man has talent though, in fact less than two years ago he defeated the very man he ended up replacing on this card, Oli Thompson. Broughton is a powerful if somewhat wild puncher who can also submit his foe should an opportunity arise. The main thing that holds him back, as with many larger heavyweights, is his apparent lack of stamina.

Jason Young has just one contest on his UFC record so far, but he impressed first time out against the highly-regarded Dustin Poirier. Although Young was defeated by unanimous decision, he more than held his own and proved that he was worthy of a spot on the featherweight roster. In a theme that seems to run through British fighters, he prefers to stand and strike on the feet, but he also has a few submission wins under his belt against lower-level opposition. In a division that is still relatively small at the moment, this would be an excellent time for Young to prove how good he can be.

The Beginners

Brad Pickett (L) battles Ivan Menjivar (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

So we have looked at the experienced Brits, now let’s examine the talent dipping their toes in UFC waters for the first time. In total there are five newcomers on the UFC 138 card: Brad Pickett, John Maguire, Philip De Fries, Che Mills and Vaughan Lee.

Bantamweight Brad Pickett can’t truly be considered a rookie, as he fought for the WEC before the merger of the two promotions. Although he has never fought in the UFC before, he is considered one of our top prospects and a potential title holder in the future. Pickett holds notable victories over the likes of Demetrious Johnson and Ivan Menjivar.

John Maguire is known for his solid grappling skills as well as being the current UCMMA welterweight champion. He has won his last five fights in a row, three of which were in defence of his title. Maguire previously faced BAMMA champion Tom “Kong” Watson back in 2009, but unfortunately lost by TKO.

Another débutante with a strong grappling pedigree is heavyweight Philip De Fries. All of his seven career victories have come by submission, the majority of which came via rear-naked choke. Although he is relatively untried at this level, it will be interesting to see how he fares first time out.

John Maguire attempts to submit his most recent opponent, Peter Irving (WWBRD.com)

Veteran of the national circuit, Che Mills will get his first official shot at the big time here. He actually appeared in the preliminary section of The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom, but lost in the elimination round to eventual winner James Wilks. Mills has decent all-round ability and holds two creditable wins over Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis.

In the spirit of introducing the lighter weight classes to the fans in the UK, the UFC inked bantamweight Vaughan Lee to appear on the preliminary card. Lee has won four of his last five bouts and it is this recent run of form which likely alerted the promotion to his ability.

The Lowdown

FULL UFC 138 FIGHT CARD:

  • Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz
  • Renan Barao vs. Brad Pickett
  • Papy Abedi vs. Thiago Alves
  • Terry Etim vs. Edward Faaloloto
  • Cyrille Diabate vs. Anthony Perosh

PRELIMINARY CARD

  • Justin Edwards vs. John Maguire
  • Michihiro Omigawa vs. Jason Young
  • Rob Broughton vs. Philip De Fries
  • Chris Cope vs. Che Mills
  • Chris Cariaso vs. Vaughan Lee

Both the UFC Fight Club Q&A with Rashad Evans and the fighter weigh-ins will be held on Friday, Nov. 4, at the National Indoor Arena’s Community Hall.

Doors to the Q&A open at 1 p.m. GMT local time, and Evans hits the stage one hour later. The session is open only to members of the UFC Fight Club, the UFC’s official fan club.

The weigh-ins, which are free and open to the public, follow at 4 p.m. GMT local time.

UFC 138 itself kicks off the following day, Saturday, Nov. 5, at 5.30 p.m. GMT local time.

Top Photo: The LG Arena in Birmingham, England, will host Saturday’s UFC 138 event.

This piece was authored by Duncan Price. Follow him on Twitter, @DuncMMA