This Saturday, UFC veteran brawler Matt Wiman welcomes submission ace Paul Sass to his fourth fight in the Octagon at UFC on Fuel: Struve vs. Miocic. Sass is unbeaten and unrelenting in his submission game, finishing all but one of his thirteen pro fights in that fashion. Wiman is a tough challenge for anyone, but will he be the one to take the Englishman’s momentum?
Wiman prefers a battle and is well-rounded enough to handle the fight wherever it goes, though he is not outstanding in any one particular area. He has good hands and a strong overhand right that Sass will need to be cautious of in this fight. In his fight with Dennis Siver, Wiman used this punch frequently from the outside to negate his shorter opponent’s reach. Wiman will likely throw shots from the outside in order to keep a distance from Sass shooting in or pulling guard.
We have seen Wiman find success with his wrestling, but that may not be an option for him in this fight. Any opponent that has grappled with Sass thus far has been finished with a submission, save for Rob Sinclair.
“Handsome’s” mix of wrestling and strikes usually turn his fights into a grinding affair, and he has the gas tank to go three rounds. It will be difficult for Wiman to stay away from danger with Sass, but if he can drag the fight out, it might be to his favor, given how Sass rarely goes past round one.
Wiman has a solid chin, though it probably will not be tested as much as his grappling in this fight. Often, he is willing to walk through punches in order to initiate a clinch or takedown. I don’t see Wiman utilizing any grappling in his offense, but eventually the fight will go to the ground and he will probably look to escape rather that grind his opponent with wrestling.
Sass is much like Ronda Rousey in the way that he has a competent MMA game, but only needs to rely on his submission prowess to win fights.
Surviving Sass while he is fresh will be Wiman’s biggest challenge. That is something no fighter that has faced him in the UFC has been able to do.
Jacob Volkmann and Mark Holst were taken out quickly by Sass, because he makes opportunities to find a submission. When he gets close to an opponent, any free limb will be snatched and latched and the fight usually ends right then and there. The same happened to Michael Johnson, but, before he lost, Johnson had success with his stand-up.
Early in the fight, Johnson was able to land punches while continually backing away from Sass. He appeared to have hurt the Englishmen with strikes, but eventually the distance was closed. Sass pulled guard and when Johnson stood to pull his leg away, Sass grabbed it to secure a fight-ending heel hook.
Wiman could build off what worked for Johnson, and his punches will need to be precise and hard to throw Sass off his game early. As the fight goes on, it will favor Wiman, but I see Sass’ submission competency to be too high of a threat to see it any other way than what has been the norm for Sass up to this point.
Unless Wiman can score a quick knockout, eventually he is going to be tied up with Sass and then it won’t take long for the fighter from Liverpool to secure a win.
Photo: Matt Wiman (L) delivers a flying knee (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)