Two cards in one week is never a bad thing, I like to think. Especially considering how many great fights are on this card as well as Wednesday’s Ultimate Fight Night 27. As always we’re doing double duty and predicting the main card, as well, of this weekend’s PPV.
Participating are myself, Adam Keyes, Luke Cho-Yee, Daniel Sohn and Ryan Frederick
UFC lightweight title – Benson Henderson v Anthony Pettis
Ryan Frederick: Their first fight is one of my all-time favorite fights and one I use to introduce new people to the sport. Both have gotten tremendously better since then, and Pettis has proven to be a finisher while Henderson has yet to finish a fight in the UFC. This will be fun, and I think history will repeat itself. Pettis
Daniel Sohn: Both of these guys have come a long way since their WEC finale fight. Pettis is spectacular, but it just seems like it’s Benson Henderson’s time now. Bendo wins close fights. Pettis has to finish Bendo or he loses, and I don’t see Bendo getting finished.
Adam Keyes: I’ve had a tough time picking a winner on this one. Pettis did get the better of Henderson in their close first outing, but Henderson has looked like a completely different animal since then. While I can quite easily see Pettis taking this one due to a more aggressive striking game and his unpredictable nature, I’m leaning towards Henderson to shade this based on his pressurising game and I expect the champ to utilise a grappling heavy approach to nullify Pettis’ wild attacks. Henderson
Luke Cho-Yee: What a special fight this could be. Henderson is very good in all areas and has no obvious weakness. Pettis is not quite as rounded but he has a unique and unorthodox attack that is very difficult to counter and has gazumped Hendo once before. Having lost in that infamous first encounter, Hendo must look to quickly impose his will on the contest and break the rhythm of Pettis before he can get comfortable and strike with trademark impunity. If the Champ can mix up his game as he has done so successfully since going undefeated in the UFC then he will end up on top throughout the contest and retain his title. Henderson
Scott Sawitz: This is a really tough call to make, of course, and I think it’s going to be insanely close one more time. And when it comes to close fights, Benson Henderson wins. Henderson
Frank Mir v Josh Barnett
Ryan Frederick: I’m really interested in seeing how Barnett fares in the UFC. Mir is the measuring stick and looking to put a stop to his losing streak. However, I think it’ll continue as Barnett is just slightly better at this stage of their careers. Barne
Daniel Sohn: Barnett is smart enough to use his size and skills to neutralize Mir’s greatest strengths. He wins in his return to the Octagon. Now whether he passes his piss test is another question. Barnett
Adam Keyes: This is a fight I have looked forward to for quite a while due to the intriguing stylistic matchup. Both men possess solid, if a little lethargic stand-up that is more than good enough to get by but it tends to be on the ground where these two settle their contests. Ultimately it could boil down to Mir’s jiu-jitsu vs. Barnett’s catch wrestling and here’s hoping, as this is where we will hopefully be treated to some high-level grappling between two storied heavyweights. As I can’t quite bring myself to prise these two apart based on their well matched skills, I’m going to plump for Mir in this one based purely on his steady diet of top competition these last few years, something Barnett hasn’t been fed on since his Pride days. Mir
Luke Cho-Yee: This one feels like years in the making. There are so many parallels between these two veterans and one hopes it will live up to expectations. Mir has become a much more polished striker over recent years and although he will fancy his chances on the mat he would be better served using his length and movement to keep Barnett at distance. ‘The Warmaster’ Barnett will need to close the gap and dominate through his chain wrestling style that few can contend with once he secures top position. I expect a really close back and forth contest that will produce a polarizing decision. Mir
Scott Sawitz: People are insanely excited for this fight … and it’s going to be awful. Don’t kid yourself. We were excited for Mir/Cro-Cop and that was 15 minutes of cage-dancing before the big knockout. Expect the same. Barnett hasn’t beaten anyone elite since Big Nog in Pride … but he is good with a microphone, thus the pro-wrestling mouth breathers that make up a good portion of MMA followers fawn over this guy. Everything that’s wrong with the UFC PED policy is summed up with Barnett getting a prominent spot on this card. Mir will probably take this by a super dull decision. Mir.
Chad Mendes v Clay Guida
Ryan Frederick: Guida doesn’t appear to be the same type of fighter he was in the past as he seems to be point-fighting now. Mendes is a beast and I don’t see any way he loses this fight. Mendes
Daniel Sohn: Mendes is on fire right now, although his competition hasn’t exactly been the cream of the crop. Guida seems like he is reinventing himself with every fight. Mendes seems to be just a little bit better in every area. Give this one to “Money”. Mendes
Adam Keyes: For me, Chad Mendes is the best 145lbs’er not name José Aldo. Mendes has been on absolute tear since losing out to the champ back at UFC 142, albeit against out-matched competition but the Team Alpha Male product can only defeat what’s in front of him and he has done that in dominating fashion. Guida on the other hand has looked a shadow of his former self in his most recent fights, abandoning his come-forward, stalking style in favour of a more defensive approach that has lost him many fans as well as his bout with Gray Maynard. I can only see one outcome based on recent performances and the two men’s skillsets, put me down for a Mendes victory with the former title challenger blasting out Guida within two. Mendes.
Luke Cho-Yee: Finally someone who has the skills to nullify Guida’s snore-inducing style. Mendes could not have looked better since losing to the champion Aldo and the inclusion of ‘Bang’ Ludwig at Alpha Male has created an ever more dangerous fighter who few will be able to contain. Guida is no doubt a step up in competition and it will be an difficult test but I expect Mendes to make a statement and continue to power his way back toward the summit of the featherweight division. Mendes
Scott Sawitz: Mendes has improved drastically since Duane Ludwig took a hold of his striking and a rematch with Jose Aldo would be a very interesting one. Mendes is without a doubt the second best featherweight in the world while Guida’s ranking comes from being a really good lightweight. I like Mendes to finish Guida, and do so early.
Ben Rothwell v Brandon Vera
Ryan Frederick: A very important fight for both men as the loser could be cut from the UFC roster. Vera is a well-rounded fighter but something has been off with him since Jon Jones broke his face. However, I think he wins this one. Vera
Daniel Sohn: Rothwell is fighting in his native state, which will likely give him some extra mojo. I think he would beat Vera anywhere, but in his home state, he’s going to bring the pain. Rothwell
Adam Keyes: While Vera looked good in losing to Shogun last time out, that was back in August and his previous fight before that was in October 2011. Couple that inactivity with a return to the heavyweight division; I can’t see how Vera can come through this unscathed. Rothwell isn’t exactly the best the division has to offer, but he’s tough as hell, can throw serious leather and should have enough about him to deal with Vera. Rothwell
Luke Cho-Yee: These two fighters are in desperate need of a win and the loser could well end up with an unwanted call from Joel Silva. I expect Rothwell to come out extremely aggressive and head-hunt from the outset, using his considerable frame to try and nullify the lighter, more agile Vera. Vera is the more talented striker and if he can implement that Muay Thai heavy game that he possesses, then he will create opportunities that he must capitalize on. Vera
Scott Sawitz: All we need is Bruce Buffer announcing this as a “Loser leaves town” match, I think, as both guys are fighting to stay in the UFC. Vera stayed because he jumped weight classes, and Shogun Rua couldn’t put him away in the first. Rothwell was a Top 10 heavyweight at one point … one who just kept getting hurt all the time. All that time away to heal has robbed him of a lot; against Gonzaga he didn’t look as good as he should and I think he’s on the downslope because of injuries. Vera is talking all the usual stuffs about being back … and this time I think he might be doing more than just doing a Tito Ortiz Excuse Parade. Vera.
Erik Koch v Dustin Poirier
Ryan Frederick: Another fight I’m really looking forward to. These guys fight the same way and their styles should make for a close, action-packed fight. I like Poirier in this fight, but just barely. Poirier
Daniel Sohn: Both of these guys were headed for title shots (Koch actually earned one) before they stumbled in recent fights. This one is going to be a banger. Poirier will probably bounce back from his loss a little stronger than Koch. Poirier
Adam Keyes: Koch was unlucky last time out against Ricardo Lamas. Not so much in terms of the outcome as Lamas was clearly superior, but more so the situation Koch found himself leading up to it. Koch was on a tear previous to the Lamas fight reeling off four straight wins and twice positioned himself for a title shot but with both opportunities lost due to injuries, meaning that by the time the Lamas fight rolled around he was out of the cage for well over a year. Now that Koch is back in to the swing of things, I expect him to get back on track and deal with Poirier who, for what my view is worth, has been disappointing and yet to register a high level victory in the division. Koch
Luke Cho-Yee: This should be a super entertaining bout. Koch and Poirier are two evenly matched, fan friendly young fighters who attack from all areas and are always looking for the finish. I expect a really competitive battle as both men tussle for supremacy, particularly in the scrambles for top position. I regard Poirier to be slightly ahead in his development and having learned from past defeats against top ranked opponents, I expect ‘The Diamond’ to stay ahead of the curve and edge this enthralling contest. Poirier
Scott Sawitz: Koch had a bunch of cage rust against Ricardo Lamas and it showed. i like Poirier but I think Koch puts it together for this one. Koch