*** PEARSON AND WILKS APPEAR ON MAIN CARD - HATHAWAY AND TAYLOR MEET IN FASCINATING WELTERWEIGHT CLASH ***
The Ultimate Fighting Championship® organization is delighted to showcase a selection of the best UK mixed martial artists at its record-breaking UFC 105® event in Manchester on November 14, including appearances from a total of 10 British UFC stars.
As well as witnessing the British debut of UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture, as he returns to light heavyweight to tackle Brandon Vera, UK fight fans will also be treated to a full menu of international talent at the MEN Arena.
Fast-rising Nottingham star Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy meets fellow top contender Mike ‘Quick’ Swick in a fascinating and crucial welterweight clash, while Manchester’s very own Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping battles Denis Kang in a risky middleweight assignment.
Completing the UFC 105 main card will be appearances from winners of The Ultimate Fighter® series nine, Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson and James ‘Lightning’ Wilks.
Lightweight winner Pearson will square off with Aaron Riley over three rounds, and Wilks goes up against Matt ‘The Immortal’ Brown at welterweight.
Sunderland’s Pearson (11-3) has been itching for this moment since defeating fellow Brit Andre Winner to lift The Ultimate Fighter crown in June.
“I expected a tough fight for my UFC debut and that is exactly what they’ve given me with Riley,” says Pearson.
“I wasn’t shocked that someone like Riley was picked to face me, because everybody knows it’s hard to find soft touches in the UFC. I wanted a genuine test for my first UFC appearance and that is exactly what I’ve got.”
Pearson impressed fans of The Ultimate Fighter with his aggressive, all-action fighting style and his laidback, down-to-earth demeanour away from the Octagon. The 24-year-old now looks to prove he’s ‘for real’ on November 14.
American Riley (28-11-1) possesses the experience and skills to tell us all we need to know about Britain’s latest sensation. Boasting wins over Shane Nelson and Jorge Gurgel, the Indiana-native is considered one of the toughest lightweights in the UFC.
“Riley’s a very good, all-round fighter and has good wrestling and kick-boxing,” admits Pearson. “He’s also a southpaw, which makes things a little more tricky. It goes without saying that he’s also very tough, durable and has a lot of experience. This is a definite test for me and Riley is the toughest opponent of my career. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Another man carrying the coveted title of The Ultimate Fighter is Leicester-born Wilks (7-2), a talented jiu-jitsu practitioner with a degree in business.
British born and bred but now based in Laguna Hills, California, Wilks shocked everyone on last season’s Ultimate Fighter, as he cut through the competition and pre-show favourite DaMarques Johnson to lift the crown.
Now back in his homeland, Wilks is excited to return to Britain as an Ultimate Fighter winner.
“This is a huge moment for me, as it will be the first time I’ve ever fought in my home country,” says Wilks. “All my pro fights to date have taken place in the United States, and I can’t wait to get back home and show the UK fans what I can do.”
Wilks goes up against Matt Brown (12-7), a former Ultimate Fighter contestant from season seven. Now established as a game and exciting welterweight contender, Brown holds explosive recent victories over Pete Sell and Ryan Thomas. Seemingly getting better with each and every outing, Brown could provide Wilks with the ultimate test of his credentials.
“Matt Brown is on a great run of form at the moment and I’m ready to tackle a fighter at the very top of his game,” admits Wilks. “He’s coming off two big wins and his confidence will be at an all-time high.
“I’m ready for that and I know what I’m up against. Matt doesn’t let up from the first round to the last and I’m the same. Whether we’re standing or going to the ground, this fight is going to be an explosive and fast-paced fight. I expect fans to see non-stop action the whole way. It will be my arm raised at the end, though.”
Another intriguing match added to UFC 105 is the exciting all-British showdown between John ‘The Hitman’ Hathaway and ‘Relentless’ Paul Taylor. Set for three rounds, the welterweight battle of the Brits has already been earmarked as a potential ‘Fight of the Night’ by UFC fans.
“Taylor’s a great opponent for me,” enthuses Hathaway. “He’s been involved in some of the most exciting fights ever seen in the UFC. He’s a big fan-favourite and all his fights gain a lot of attention. He’s also been in with some great opponents like Marcus Davis, Paul Kelly and Chris Lytle. I’m looking forward to testing myself against someone who has been in with some top guys.”
The 22-year-old Hathaway is currently the third youngest mixed martial artist competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Unbeaten in 12 pro bouts, Brighton’s Hathaway holds Octagon wins over Tom Egan and Ricky Story. On November 14 in Manchester, ‘The Hitman’ will face his toughest assignment yet.
“Paul’s a world-class Muay Thai fighter and could give anyone problems in a striking match,” admits John. “He’s also very fit and determined. It’s hard to ever really get on top of him and stop his workrate. He’s always coming forward and looking to scrap.
“I’ve spoken to Paul in the past and he’s a nice guy, but this is all business on November 14. I respect Paul a great deal, but on that night he’s just another opponent for me.”
Relentless in name and style, Taylor (10-4-1, 1 NC) is a fan favourite from Walsall, England and a renowned kickboxer. With six UFC bouts under his belt, three of them winning “Fight of the Night” awards, Taylor has already cemented his reputation as one of the organisation’s most exciting battlers.
“Whether he’s winning or losing, Paul always brings his A-game,” adds Hathaway. “He’s never let anyone down and always pushes his opponent to the limit.
“Paul gets a lot of ‘Fight of the Night’ honours and there’s a good chance we could share another on November 14. I’m ready for a war and it would be a massive statement if I could stop Paul within the distance.”
Leading Liverpool lightweights Terry Etim and Paul ‘Tellys’ Kelly also see action at UFC 105 as they both look to continue positive form at the MEN Arena.
The 23-year-old Etim (13-2) faces American contender Shannon Gugerty (12-3) in a competitively matched 155-pound affair.
“Gugerty’s a durable ground specialist with 12 victories from 15 professional mixed martial arts bouts,” says Etim, who has won his three previous UFC bouts. “As with any fight in the UFC, I’m expecting the toughest test of my career to date and will be treating this fight on November 14 as my world title fight.
“Gugerty has two first-round UFC wins to his name and has only lost against Spencer Fisher, one of the top lightweights in the world. He also comes from a very strong camp of fighters and trains with top UFC fighters like Brandon Vera. Gugerty is no joke and is going to be a tough test for me. Saying that, though, I definitely see myself coming out on top and winning the fight.”
Meanwhile, Kelly (10-1) goes up against rapidly improving German favourite Dennis Siver (14-6) over three rounds. The fight will be Kelly’s second appearance as a lightweight since dropping down from the 170-pound welterweight division.
“If Dennis comes to fight, it will make for a great war,” insists Kelly. “He’s too small to be running around and moving. He’ll be there in my face, looking to make a war with me. I also know Dennis can bang as well, which will be interesting. He’s a former kickboxer and a very dangerous guy on his feet. I’d love to have an absolute tear-up with Dennis on November 14.”
While TUF 9 victors Pearson and Wilks appear on the main card, fellow show alums ‘Slick’ Nick Osipczak (4-1) and Andre Winner (10-3-1) appear in UFC 105 preliminaries.
Lightweight runner-up Winner will battle Rolando Delgado (8-4-1), while Osipczak challenges unbeaten Matt Riddle (3-0) at welterweight.
“This is a good fight for me, simply because Riddle is at the same level of experience as me,” says Osipczak. “I think this is a great match between two young guys looking to go places. We’re both hungry for success and we’re both improving on a daily basis.
“I think it’s going to be a really tough fight and it may all boil down to who can implement their game plan better. We’ve both got the attributes and the capability to win the fight, but it’s all about who can hold it together under the bright lights and the big crowd.”
Finally, a light-heavyweight matchup between UFC newcomers Alexander Gustafsson (8-0) and Jared Hamman (11-1) rounds out the bumper UFC 105 card.