The sixth fight of the nine-fight preliminary card on Saturday will be a welterweight match between two Ultimate Fighter competitors, Clay Harvison and DaMarques Johnson. Neither fighter has been able to put together much momentum in the UFC. Johnson is 3-3 in the UFC, and has been fighting at a relatively low level in the welterweight division, beating Edgar Garcia, Brad Blackburn, and Michael Guymon, while losing to James Wilks, Matt Riddle, and Amir Sadollah. Harvison, on the other hand, is 1-1 in the UFC, winning a split decision against Justin Edwards, and then losing in a one-sided beatdown at the hands of Seth Baczynski.
While the sport of MMA has evolved to the point at which any aspiring high-level participant needs to be at least proficient in all areas, it’s still important to be particularly good in one of them. Georges St-Pierre dictates where fights take place with his wrestling. Anderson Silva is an amazing striker. Fighters like Demian Maia and Fabricio Werdum are in the second tier of their respective weight classes, using world-class jiu-jitsu as their base. It’s very easy to write fight previews featuring fighters like these, because it’s usually very clear what they and their opponents want to do.
With DaMarques Johnson and Clay Harvison, it’s a lot harder, because they don’t seem to have special talent in any one area. Sure, they’re proficient in all of them, but they don’t seem to have any specialty going for them. What are these guys best at? Striking? It’s honestly hard to tell.
Johnson in particular has a nasty habit of being out-struck by his opponents. In fact, according to Fight Metric, Johnson has managed to win the significant strike battle in the UFC exactly once… when he landed two strikes against Michael Guymon’s one. None of Johnson’s UFC fights have gone to decision, as he has two submission wins and one win by TKO, but has lost once by submission, once by TKO, and once by submission due to strikes. I’d suggest that Harvison’s best chance to win would be to take Johnson to the ground and start throwing strikes, as Johnson has given up 12 takedowns in his UFC career.
The problem is that Harvison hasn’t really shown much wrestling; in fact, he was taken down seven times by Justin Edwards in his professional UFC debut. Really, the only sustained offense we’ve seen from Harvison was when he took advantage of a very fatigued Justin Edwards to land a number of strikes.
SILVA PREDICTION: DAMARQUES JOHNSON (38.01) OVER CLAY HARVISON (28.01)
If this fight is a striking match, I anticipate it will be somewhat even. If either fighter takes the other to the ground, that fighter should have the advantage. Johnson is the pick to win, because he does have a little more of a successful fight history than Harvison does, but it would take some sugar-coating to say this is anything more than a low-level UFC welterweight fight.