A preview of UFC 150: Edgar vs. Henderson 2, which features two awesome main events and a bunch of other fights that could be really boring.
Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar: Henderson has quickly become one of my favorite fighters and I promise that has nothing to do with his allegiance to the Carolina Panthers. Ok, maybe it has a little bit to do with that. But it mostly has to do with the fact that he’s never in a boring fight and I expect this to be no different. Their first fight earlier this year was fantastic and this one should be fantastic. Don’t be fooled by the terrible promo that UFC has been airing this past week that claims that Edgar was dominating the fight but he got hit with an up kick, continued to dominate the fight, but somehow lost. Henderson did a lot of good things in the first fight, mainly with his boxing. His jab was on point and his counter striking, especially his left hand, gave Edgar a lot of trouble when he would try to get in and out. Edgar did a nice job taking away the kicks of Henderson by catching them, but he never really made Henderson pay when he did. Edgar’s boxing with sharp as you’d expect, but Henderson, unlike Penn and Maynard, matched his speed and seemed to have his timing down pretty well. I expect Edgar to make some minor adjustments in this fight, but I’m not sure what they’ll be. Maybe he’ll try more takedowns in order to spend more time on top, but it’s not like Henderson is easy to takedown or hold down. In fact, the one time Edgar tried to establish top position in their first bout was when Henderson was able to push him away and land that up kick. Henderson’s guard is actually pretty underrated, not because he’s really a threat to submit his opponent, but because he’s constantly working. He’s going to be elbowing Edgar, throwing up is legs for a submission, and twisting and turning. Henderson trusts his scrambling ability and submission escapeability so much that he’s unafraid to give up a bad position, knowing that he’ll likely survive and end up in a neutral or better position. I actually wouldn’t be shocked if Henderson tried a few more takedowns this time around. Like Henderson, it’s not like Edgar is easy to takedown or keep down, but Henderson does his best work when he’s on top and unleashing his ground and pound. Plus, he’ll have a size advantage in this fight and if he can clinch up with Edgar (much easier said than done given Edgar’s speed) it’s possible that he tries to muscle him to the ground. This is most likely going to be another close fight because both guys are tough to finish and neither is really known for their finishing ability outside of Henderson with his guillotine. Like the first fight though, I think Henderson takes it because he’s more likely to damage Edgar and look more dominant. Even if he’s not really being all that dominant, when rounds are close, perception counts for a lot in the eyes of the judges.
Prediction: Henderson, Decision
Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard: This is a hell of a fight that came together like a month ago but I’m sure most of us are happy that it’s here. When it comes to explosiveness and power, few came close to Guillard in the lightweight division. He hits hard and he hits fast, but he’s not just a winging power puncher. He actually has some slick boxing and he’s not afraid to throw opponents off guard with kicks and knees. He’s also a good defensive wrestler, which forcers lesser opponents to stand and strike with him. For all his strengths though, Guillard’s weaknesses are just as evident. His chin is pretty suspect, his submission defense is almost non-existent, and he seems to have these mental lapses that lead to stupid decisions, which in turn leads to losses. Cerrone is more than capable of exposing those weaknesses. Even though his last bout against Jeremy Stephens wasn’t as exciting as a lot of his previous efforts, it was a much more complete fight. He didn’t start off slow like he’s prone to do and he didn’t get hit as much, which he’s really prone to do. He fought very long, used plenty of kicks, and fought with a controlled aggression. Cerrone will likely have to weather an early storm, but if he does that, this is his fight to lose. He should be able to get the better of Guillard striking and when Guillard starts to tire or his chin fails him, Cerrone should have no trouble putting him on his back and submitting him.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone, Submission, Round 2
Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman: A lot of guys drop a weight class when they lose a fight. Shields won his last fight and decided to go up in weight, which was an extremely wise career move. Even though he still would have been “in the mix” at welterweight, it seemed clear that he didn’t like the weight cut and it’s a much easier road to the title at middleweight. No one does more with less than Shields. He’s a very basic striker who only uses the one-two combo and body kicks. He does absolutely nothing else, but he also knows that he can’t do anything else, so he doesn’t try anything stupid like a spinning back fist. His wrestling isn’t great, but he has a nasty guillotine from the clinch and is persistent with his takedowns. Herman has had a bit of a career resurgence since his injury, but he hasn’t really beat anyone of note. He’s fallen in love with the uppercut on the feet, which isn’t really a punch that is going to concern Shields given the way he strikes. Herman is a solid wrestler but I think Shields will be able to out-grapple him unless Herman can use that world class jiu-jitsu that had him submitting Demian Maia (if you don’t get this joke, don’t bother getting on my case). It’s possible that Shields submits Herman late in the fight, but I’m more confident in him winning a the decision.
Prediction: Shields, Decision
Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts: “THE CHERRY” IS BACK! For those that don’t know, Todd Bergman and I have tried to get the rumor rolling that Roberts is a virgin and Samer Kadi came up with the nickname “The Cherry.” Our goal is to give him some publicity because otherwise no one would care about him. They might care about him after this fight though, because he’s in way over his head. People are down on Okami because he lost to Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch, but who doesn’t lose to Silva and he was getting the better of Boetsch for 10-minutes until Boetsch went beast mode in the third round. Okami is still a top-level middleweight and I expect him to prove that on Saturday. The only thing that concerns me about Okami is that he decides that this is a can’t-lose fight and not a must-win fight. If he’s fighting not to lose, he’ll probably just bully Roberts in the clinch and hug him to death. If he’s fighting to win though, he’ll blast Roberts on the feet and finish him impressively. I’ll play the optimist here and say he’ll fight to win.
Prediction: Okami, TKO, Round 1
Justin Lawrence vs. Max Holloway: I’ve been very high on Lawrence since The Bill Engvall Show. Lawrence impressed everyone in Winter’s Bone, did a solid job in X-Men: First Class, and then absolutely destroyed it in The Hunger Games. Lawrence is a world-class killing monster. Shit, wrong Lawrence. The Lawrence that fights on Saturday is not even close to a talent of his un-related movie star, in fact, he’s a one-trick fighter with really good karate, although everyone just assumes that if you’re great at karate, you must be as awesome as Lyoto Machida. FALSE! Lawrence doesn’t have the same kind of wrestling or grappling as Machida. Holloway is a solid striker in his own right and his best chance to win is to clinch up, use his knees and elbows in tight, and even land a couple of takedowns. If Holloway tries to play a distance striking game, there’s a chance he gets picked apart, but I think he’s smarter than that.
Prediction: Holloway, Decision