The second main card fight features a welterweight looking to get back into title contention in John Hathaway, taking on a fighter looking to stay undefeated in the UFC in John Maguire.
Striking: Hathaway is a tall welterweight with good reach, and he usually is able to take advantage of that. That’s what he did in his UFC 114 win against Diego Sanchez, and he also displayed good boxing in his last fight against Pascal Krauss. In a division full of wrestlers, Hathaway could fairly be considered one of the better strikers. The one knock I have against him is a relative lack of knockout power – with only five wins by TKO in 17 fights, Hathaway is a fighter who out-points his opponent as opposed to knocking him out. He should have a large advantage over John Maguire, who is much more of a wrestler and grappler. In his two UFC fights, Maguire has shown little patience for the striking game, going for takedowns in every round. That didn’t prevent him from being knocked down by Justin Edwards in his UFC debut. If Hathaway is able to keep this fight standing, he should be considered the overwhelming favorite to win.
Wrestling: It’s a little tough to get a good grasp of how good Maguire is as a wrestler based on his UFC fights. On one hand, he was able to land takedowns on a regular basis. On the other, he faced two fighters with very weak takedown defense in Justin Edwards and DaMarques Johnson. Hathaway’s takedown defense is much better than those guys, but it’s nothing amazing. He was mostly able to keep his fight against Diego Sanchez standing, but was taken down often by merely decent wrestlers in Mike Pyle and Kris McCray. Now, Hathaway has decent takedown offense as well, and there’s a possibility he will land takedowns of his own, but given Maguire’s skill set as a grappler, I think Hathaway will look to keep it standing. My guess is that Hathaway will succeed there, but I won’t be surprised in the least if he’s forced to work off his back.
Submissions: This is where Maguire has the advantage. Maguire is not a particularly active fighter, and that includes the ground game, but he has done a good job of maintaining position and capitalizing on the mistakes of his opponents. But just as John Hathaway has much better takedown defense than Justin Edwards and DaMarques Johnson, he has a better ground game as well. Now, make no mistake about it – the ground game is where Hathaway is weak, and he was dominated by Mike Pyle in particular. Kris McCray also had moments of making Hathaway look bad. But I don’t see Maguire having quite as much success as Pyle and McCray did. If Maguire does succeed in landing takedowns, he should have the overall advantage on the ground, but Hathaway should be good enough to defend Maguire’s attacks while either getting back to his feet, or stalling long enough to be stood up by the referee.
Prediction: John Hathaway by decision. His striking advantage over John Maguire should be much greater than any advantages Maguire might have in wrestling and submissions. This is a tricky fight for me to break down, because Maguire’s past opponents have such glaring flaws that Maguire was able to take full advantage of. I just think Hathaway is a much better fighter than Edwards and Johnson, and should be able to keep this fight standing, out-point Maguire, and win by decision in the end.