ALar previews UFC 164: Henderson v. Pettis II
With all this UFC action, my blogging fingers are growing weary, but I will fight through the pain and deliver for you, my loyal readers! This Saturday the UFC is throwing one of the best cards in recent memory at us. If you checked out the sick night of FREE fights last night during the Condit/Kampmann card, you should almost feel compelled to shell out the cash to watch this one. We all know the story of the ‘Showtime Kick‘ and have seen it 1,000,000 times in the pre-fight hype videos for this card, but that fight was much closer than the highlights would lead you to believe. Many across the MMA blogosphere scored it for Bendo. Though, Henderson hasn’t exactly been challenged during his recent title reign. As an armchair handicapper, I believe that Anthony Pettis will be the first to give Benson and his belt a scare.
Saturday night also marks the return of the reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion to the promotion. What?!?! Yes, Josh Barnett technically never lost the UFC Heavyweight strap that he beat Randy Couture for at UFC 32 in March, 2002. He was stripped of the belt for a testing hot after the bout, but even so, he has never technically lost his UFC gold. The entire card from Facebook prelims to Main Card is worthwhile entertainment and this Saturday could prove to be one of the best night of fights in 2013. On to the preview!
Facebook Prelims (Picks in BOLD)
(This could be the best set of Facebook prelims that I can remember!)
Jared Hamman v. Magnus Cedenblad
Ryan Couture v. Al Iaquinta
Soa Palelei v. Nikita Krylov
Prelims on Fox Sports 1
Chico Camus v. Kyung Ho Kang
Camus is a Milwaukee kid and Roufussport product. The crowd will cheer him to a W.
Pascal Krauss v. Hyun Gyu Lim
Kraus, another Roufussport product, will earn a submission win.
Louis Gaudinot v. Tim Elliot
With the way the Flyweight division is structured, the winner here could earn a title shot with a dominant victory. Both guys have had long layoffs, but I enjoy Gaudinot’s style, especially his green hair. Decision win for Gaudinot.
Jamie Varner v. Gleison Tibau
Barn burner alert! Varner is a slight favorite here, but I see this fight as a pick ’em. Tibau is a massive Lightweight and I can see him thumping his way to a decision win.
LATE UPDATE: MMA Fighting just reported Tibau has 17 pounds to lose before tomorrow’s weigh ins. Changing my pick to Varner by TKO!
Main Card, Pay Per View, 10 PM ET
Erik Kock v. Dustin Poirer
What a freakin’ way to start off a PPV! The winner here is instantly thrust into the complicated Featherweight title picture. After watching Fightville, I am a certain Poirer fan. Koch is coming off a tough hometown loss to Ricardo Lamas and Poirer recently dropped a decision to Cub Swanson. If Poirer brings his A-Game, like what we saw against Jonathan Brookins, I think he takes another decision here (or snaps on a late D’arce choke!) If Koch is game and Poirer shows up in a lackluster form as he has done before, this could be a cakewalk for the former #1 contender. In the end, I like a split decision for the Diamond Poirer.
Ben Rothwell v. Brandon Vera
Well, it is safe to say that someone is going to sleep in this one. This tilt marks Vera’s return to Heavyweight where he last competed in 2008, earning a decision win over Reese Andy… In my opinion, Vera is grasping at straws to stay relevant with this move. He has been out of the cage since his surprisingly gutsy loss to Shogun on FOX last August, while his opponent Rothwell hasn’t seen action since being choked out by Gabriel Gonzaga in January. After Rothwell starched Brendan Schaub and showed up to weigh ins looking like he had done a few crunches, I really thought his career was ready to take off. Then, sadly, that Gonzaga fight happened… Vegas calls Vera the favorite here, but I don’t know if he has the chin to stay awake in the cage with another viable Heavyweight. I hope that Rothwell can channel the monster that destroyed Schaub and earn an early TKO victory against ‘The Truth’.
Chad Mendes v. Clay Guida
Chad Mendes is the best fighter in the UFC Featherweight division, not named Jose Aldo, there, I said it! Mendes is a freakishly athletic wrestler who has displayed vicious power since his loss to Aldo in January of last year. His opponent on Saturday will be the newly maligned Clay Guida. Early in his career, Guida was a fan favorite for his lumberjack look and energetic fighting style. Recently, Guida has relied on a wall and stall and lay and pray technique that has put him at odds with many MMA fans. Mendes is a 4-1 favorite in this bout and I think that may be lowballing the Team Alpha Male product. Mendes is going to win this one in spectacular fashion and earn himself the next title shot at Jose Aldo. (Sorry, Ricardo Lamas…) Mendes by submission. Yup, submission.
Josh Barnett v. Frank Mir
Now if your inner MMA fanboy isn’t tingling about this one, I don’t want to watch fights with you! (Kidding, of course…) This clash tosses two of the greatest grapplers in the history of the Heavyweight division against each other. We know of Mir’s deadly ground attacks from his collection of arms that he keeps above his mantle, and we know of Barnett’s ability to slay any Heavyweight that resides outside of the UFC.
When I break down this fight, I look to each of their fights with Daniel Cormier as the measuring stick. Mir was relatively useless against DC, while Barnett, even in a loss, put on a valiant performance in a great heavyweight scrap. Barnett showed that he has a competent stand up game that can cancel out any kickboxing attack that Mir could attempt to mount. There is always the chance that Mir snatches a limb and snaps it on the ground, but I believe Barnett has the better wrasslin’ skill set to control Mir and keep the Jackson product where he wants when this thing hits the mat. Barnett’s clean striking will give him the advantage on the feet as well. Unanimous decision for the reigning *UFC Heavyweight Champ*, Warmaster Barnett.
Lightweight Championship Fight
Champion Benson Henderson v. Anthony Pettis
You’ve probably seen the Showtime Kick one too many times by now, but still, how freakin’ awesome was that?!?!? That kick likely sealed the decision for Pettis at WEC 53 and I expect similar flash to earn him another decision win on Saturday. Let me break it down for ya… Henderson has looked decent in his title defenses, but he hasn’t left fans in awe with his performances. Henderson’s strategy to not get hit and attack opponent’s legs certainly works to win him rounds, but if Pettis is out there channeling his inner Liu Kang, then I believe he can edge out a decision in the eyes of the easily swayed judges.
The hometown crowd will also certainly help Showtime’s cause. I don’t consider Henderson’s striking to be elite, but he knows how to utilize the tools he has well. His leg kicks are devastating and that is the number one facet of this fight that scares me from Showtime’s point of view. If Anthony’s knee isn’t 100% and Bendo thumps one of those tree stumps into his injured limb, this could be a short night for the Milwaukee kid. If Pettis’ knee is fine, I see him going all sorts of Tekken in the ring and avoiding Henderson’s takedowns and making use of the time he is given on his feet. There is slim chance of a finish in this one, but if Showtime’s knee is healthy, I believe his flair and hometown status will earn him a decision on Saturday.
Check our Twitter for some hilarious live-tweeting! Enjoy the fights!