As usual I will be comparing and contrasting the fighting styles of the athletes competing in UFC 150, but beforehand a few sentiments following UFC 149.
Firstly, I’d like to apologise if there was even one person that read my head-to-head and based on that decided to watch the embarrassment that was the main card. I personally enjoyed Faber vs Barao and all heavyweight fights are either incredible or terrible, but there was no excuse for Hector Lombard’s performance.
Secondly, on the face of it, my predictions for the card were horrendous, the worst I’ve ever done, but I’d like to point out (to hide my shame) that each of the ones I got wrong were either a suspect decision, very closely contested or lost in a manner I suggested could be their downfall.
I recovered well with a 7/10 on UFC on FOX 4, and let us hope these go well too! I’ll be focusing on the main card for these head-to-head’s as I have a fair bit to say about them and wouldn’t want to bore you.
Benson Henderson (C) vs Frankie Edgar
Now, Benson took the lightweight belt from Frankie in Japan earlier this year in a fantastic five-rounder. I happened to believe Edgar won the fight, but, unlike my usual stubborn self, can understand the decision to hand Benson the title. What is certain is that Edgar deserves the rematch after his exploits against Penn and Maynard, and if there’s anything we’ve learnt from those rematches, it’s that Edgar always improves drastically between the first and second fights.
The up-kick from Benson to Edgar was what I believe won the first fight between the two, it was a turning point both in the round, which Edgar was winning, and in the fight altogether as Henderson started to pick up some confidence and his trademark ‘smoothness’.
It’s almost certain that this fight will go the distance. Edgar has never been stopped in his professional career, and Henderson has only been stopped once, five years ago. One thing that you would assume makes a big difference is the disparity in weight between these two; Benson is a huge lightweight while Edgar would be small at featherweight, let alone lightweight. However, this means Edgar never has any health issues as he’s not had to starve himself to make weight and he’s fully energized. He also was able to out-wrestle Benson in their first fight, especially in the early rounds, despite the size difference; such is the talent of Frankie.
Betting on the result of this fight is unwise, I have to give the edge to Edgar because he simply always defies the odds and I thought he won first time out. What is a smart bet however, is that these two will see the distance and get Fight of the Night honours, they were 3/1 last time out, and I profited nicely from it!
Edgar bts. Henderson via Pts (Probably 48/47 Split Decision)
Donald Cerrone vs Melvin Guillard
Donald Cerrone and Melvin Guillard are always contenders for a shot at the lightweight title, but seem to choke when given big opportunities. Guillard seems to have a glaring weakness for chokes, with eight of his nine losses coming via a choke submission, primarily guillotines or rear naked chokes. On his feet he is a force to be reckoned with, and in his last bout against Fabricio Camoes he showed that he was able to defend the Brazilian’s jiu-jitsu offence on the ground and get back to his feet which is a promising sign that he’s finally started working on defending his neck. He also was blatantly coasting through and guaranteeing a victory, attacking with flurries with his boxing, but not going in for the kill as he’s famous for. This was wise, showing maturity from a fighter that has been infamously difficult to predict, as a loss would have been a third in a row, and possibly seen the end of his UFC career, at least for a time.
Donald Cerrone had his opportunity to put himself in a number one contender position on New Year’s Eve against Nate Diaz. Diaz has shown vast improvements over the last 12 months, especially after dropping to 155lbs, and totally outclassed Cerrone who looked completely out of sorts. Since then though he has dominated Jeremy Stephens with superb Thai boxing along with a little wrestling. His range will be a huge advantage on the feet in this contest and keeping Guillard at distance is a must for Cerrone. Although Cowboy has never been KO’d, Guillard is certainly capable of doing so as he throws serious power in his hands and knees.
The advantage in power goes to The Young Assassin, but I believe Cerrone will fight smart, keep him at bay and not allow Guillard close enough to land those bombs. After getting comfortable, I think Cowboy is more than capable of taking Guillard to the ground and there he may be able to lock on a choke.
Both men have trained together as they both fight out of Greg Jackson’s and this means Cerrone will know better than anyone Melvin’s dislike for neck attacks, so I expect he’ll utilise this and know exactly how to keep Guillard at bay.
Cerrone bts. Guillard via Sub (Probably R1)
Jake Shields vs Ed Herman
This one should be relatively simple. Both are submission experts and are tough to knock out. Shields has faced higher competition and should be superior on the ground, but his boxing is far from lethal.
Shields should have enough to win here, although he’s struggled a little since joining the ranks of the UFC due to issues inside and out of the Octagon. He hasn’t struggled enough, however, to suggest he will fall short here, although it has forced him to move back up in weight to middleweight, where he had his Strikeforce success.
If Herman wins this, not only will I be shocked, but I think he’ll win via stoppage if he manages to pounce on the slow starting, and vulnerable on the feet, Shields. This is highly unlikely though, I see Shields being the superior wrestler and BJJ practitioner. He’ll take Short Fuse Herman to the ground and score a decision win. He certainly has the ability to finish the fight, but a combination of Herman’s jiu-jitsu competence and Shield’s lack of aggression may stop him doing so.
Shields bts. Herman via Dec
Yushin Okami vs Buddy Roberts
Okami’s opponent has changed three times for this bout, and this final opponent is, on paper, by far the easiest of the three. Okami’s last fight, against Tim Boetsch, was considered a surefire win before and during the fight, until a small stumble in the third round allowed Boetsch to attack and capitalize, winning the fight in the third by TKO. It was unexpected, and if fought again I expect Okami would have come out the victor. He is known for slow starting and being slow to react to his opponent’s advances, but is able to be so and still win due to his size and strength. Very few in the division are as big or strong as him, he looks like a light heavyweight, not a middleweight, and he’ll certainly overshadow Buddy Roberts who has been thrown to the dogs here.
His only chance, ignoring possible freak incidences, is coming out fast and aggressive early in round one and getting a technical knockout. Okami is fantastic when allowed to do his thing and wrestle his opponents; unleashing strong ground and pound, so Roberts has to stop that by dominating on the feet early. However, doing this isn’t easy and is almost unheard of as a game plan from one of Greg Jackson’s fighters. Okami wins this by ground and pound stoppage or decision.
Okami bts. Roberts via TKO (I expect R2 or R3)
Max Holloway is too technical and rangy for powerful Justin Lawrence, wins a decision if he can stop the takedowns.
Dennis Bermudez’s wrestling gets the better of Tom Hayden and walks away with the decision victory.
Jared Hamman proves too powerful and strong for Michael Kuiper, as well as better cardio, gets a late TKO win.
Erik Perez backs up an immensely impressive debut with a submission win again Ken Stone.
Chico Camus beats Dustin Pague within the rounds if he can prevent the takedowns, and stops Pague by KO.
Nik Lentz does his usual boring lay-and-pray and wins a not too impressive or exciting decision over Eiji Mitsuoka.
I hope this card fulfils its potential unlike UFC 149, but post any disagreements you have.
MMA is about disagreeing and discussing, so please – comment and let me know, I’m sure lots of you will disagree.