By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly
Daddy vs. The Dentist
Joe Stevenson Makes His Debut Against Josh Neer
Ultimate Fight Night Preview
By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly

The anticipation will finally come to an end for fans waiting to see the winners of the Ultimate Fighter season 2 debut and welterweight winner Joe Stevenson will be looking to make a big splash when he takes on Josh Neer at Ultimate Fight Night on Thursday night.

Coming into season 2 of the Ultimate Fighter show, Joe Stevenson was already a veteran of more than 20 professional fights in promotions like King of the Cage and Gladiator Challenge and he was pegged right away as the favorite to win the whole competition and with good reason. Stevenson has tremendous skills in every facet of his game and coach Matt Hughes was quick to pick him first among all the fighters on the show.

Stevenson showed a lot of personality during the show, getting under the skin of Jorge Gurgel at every given opportunity, and being one of the more outspoken fighters during the season. He proved his dominance in his first fight when he took on Marcus Davis from Rich Franklin’s team, by slamming and punishing his opponent early in the fight, ending Davis’ run on the show and with the win, Stevenson threw down the gauntlet letting any potential opponent know that the road to the welterweight championship for the Ultimate Fighter would lead directly to him.

In the semi-finals, Stevenson again proved dominant, taking out Jason Von Flue in short fashion, setting up an interesting match-up against Luke Cummo in the finale. The fight saw Stevenson take Cummo down multiple times during the fight, but he also got caught a few times with strikes and it was quickly seen that he would not have an easy time winning the competition. Throughout the fight, Stevenson showed his superior takedown skills and was able to pull out the unanimous decision and walk out the Ultimate Fighter welterweight champion.

Josh Neer will be making his third appearance in the UFC, going 1-1 in his first two fights. Neer lost in his UFC debut to veteran Drew Fickett by rear naked choke, but made a very impressive return by defeating Ultimate Fighter season 2 participant Melvin Guillard by triangle choke in the first round. Neer has always been seen as an extremely heavy hitter, gaining his nickname “The Dentist” after knocking the teeth out of the mouth of one of his early opponents, but as of late he has shown that he also has considerable ground skills winning by submission in a few fights.

Neer is a veteran of multiple MMA organizations and should have no problem showing up for this fight as he has gotten past the initial shock that so many fighters face with their first time in the octagon. While the odds seem heavily against Neer, anything can happen and he could potentially be a very dangerous opponent for Stevenson in his first fight out since winning on the Ultimate Fighter.

Stevenson will no doubt look for the early takedown and try to either ground and pound his opponent or go for a submission and put an end to the fight. Stevenson has great conditioning but did seem to tire in the latter parts of his last fight against Cummo, but with the extra time off since that fight, he should have been able to prepare for his big debut, ready to go for all three rounds if necessary. His attack on the ground is unrelenting and if he is able to take Neer down and push him against the cage, the fight could end early.

Josh Neer will need to use all of his experience to keep Stevenson from taking him down if he can, but will likely see the ground at some point during this fight. The best offense can be a very good defense, and Neer can help his cause greatly if he can neutralize Stevenson’s ground attack with a tight guard game and striking whenever the opportunity presents itself. Neer is a well rounded fighter and if he has worked on his sprawl, he needs to use his takedown defense very heavily especially in the early part of this fight, and try to land some heavy strikes when Stevenson shoots in for the takedown.

The pressure in this fight will no doubt land squarely on the shoulders of Joe Stevenson but he has faced some very tough opponents before this one and has performed with great skill all along. The Ultimate Fighter welterweight winner will have to wait no more for his debut as he will face off against Josh Neer at Ultimate Fight Night this Thursday.