Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 133 Preview: Brian Ebersole vs. Dennis Hallman

There are certain words and terms that get used far too often in MMA circles. It’s not uncommon to watch a UFC event and hear Mike Goldberg discuss the “meteoric rise” of a certain fighter. Every fighter is seemingly a “world-class” striker, wrestler, or submission fighter. And all sorts of fighters, even those with quite a few years of experience in the sport, are labeled as “prospects.” Then people like me talk about how certain words and terms are overused, and proceed to use those exact words and terms.

One such adjective is “unorthodox.” Keith Jardine has probably never had a fight in which the word wasn’t used to describe his style. But Brian Ebersole really, truly is an unorthodox fighter. His defense against strikes largely consists of covering his head with both arms and bending down at the waist. The cartwheel kick that he displayed against Chris Lytle has been a mainstay of his arsenal. He’s known to flat-out charge at his opponent at the beginning of a round – or fake such a charge. Who knew that the charge was used by somebody other than James Thompson?

What won’t you see with Brian Ebersole? Well, you won’t see many double-leg takedowns, one-two combinations, or just about anything that might be considered standard in MMA. However, behind the awkward nature of Ebersole’s fighting is a deceptively smart combatant. For example, Ebersole wasn’t for a moment going to get sucked into a stand and bang affair with Chris Lytle at UFC 127. Instead, Ebersole did a lot of striking in the clinch to go along with all of the things that make him so unorthodox in the first place. The result was a unanimous decision victory in a big upset – an upset that SILVA predicted, but I was too scared to go along with.

Don’t get any ideas that Ebersole might be able to take this style of fighting into true UFC title contention. While Ebersole did manage to beat Lytle, his strange skill set and relative lack of athleticism wouldn’t work at all against (for example) Jon Fitch or Josh Koscheck. Nor would it be good enough to take out somebody like Thiago Alves. For an example of what happens when Ebersole takes on somebody with superior talent, check out his fight against Hector Lombard on YouTube. You’ll find a couple of cartwheel kicks, and genuine moments of awkwardness, but what you won’t find is any sustained period of success for Ebersole. What he earned himself with his unorthodox style in that fight was probably lasting longer than he otherwise would have.

Now, Dennis Hallman isn’t on the same level as any of the above mentioned fighters. Still, Hallman may be the perfect fighter to go up against somebody like Ebersole. Hallman is extremely experienced, boasting a record of 50-13-2; those 65 fights are three more than the 47-14-1 Ebersole has had. That means that Hallman has been there and seen that in the MMA world, and he should be well-prepared to deal with Ebersole’s weird methods of attack. Of course, the same might have been said of Lytle, who entered his fight against Ebersole at 30-17-5.

The key difference between Lytle and Hallman is that Hallman is very much a submission-based fighter. In fact, Hallman has finished 39 of his opponents by submission, and just four by TKO. (One of those four is Karo Parisyan, Hallman’s most recent victory.) And as it turns out, nine of Ebersole’s 14 losses are by submission, and none are by TKO. Maybe there’s something to the crouched turtle striking defense.


And here we are again. The more I watch these guys fight, the more I think that Dennis Hallman has to have the advantage. Yet, Brian Ebersole might be the most crafty fighter I’ve ever watched. Despite an almost complete lack of standard fight techniques, Ebersole finds ways to make fights so awkward and difficult for his opponent that he gains the upper hand. I went against SILVA once with Ebersole, when he beat Chris Lytle at UFC 127. I’m not going to do that again.


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