Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC on Fox 7: Henderson vs. Melendez
When fans found out about Strikeforce shutting down, ideas of a UFC versus Strikeforce card have been hoped for. Finally, three months after the final Strikeforce card, the UFC has put together a card where we will get to witness four UFC veterans against four Strikeforce veterans. This is arguably the most well balanced free card the organization has ever put together and that should be a cause for some excitement.
Interestingly enough, although this card is under the UFC banner, it will be in the hometown of the Strikeforce fighters as they make their way back to the HP Pavilion in San Jose on April 20th. Ben Henderson will be headlining his second consecutive Fox card against another Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu standout in Gilbert Melendez. This is the rare cross promotion champion versus champion fight and it should be an interesting one.
The four main card bouts will be aired live on Fox in the US and Sportsnet ONE in Canada. The six preliminary bouts will be aired live on FX in the US and Sportsnet ONE in Canada. The two remaining bouts will be aired live on Facebook.
Now for the breakdown:
UFC Lightweight Championship Bout
(c) Ben Henderson (18-2) vs. Gilbert Melendez (21-2)
After a very impressive and fairly dominant reign as the Strikeforce Lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez finally gets a crack at UFC champ, Ben Henderson. Melendez has been begging for this opportunity for a while and has seemed fairly disinterested over his last couple fights and this may be the shot he needs to prove that he truly is the best Lightweight in the world. Stylistically, Henderson is one of the toughest guys to prepare for in MMA as Nate Diaz learned in his last bout.
Both fighters have similar styles as they work their angles well on the stand up and they both have solid grappling, most of which may cancel each other out. This fight should be extremely exciting, especially when they get into fast paced exchanges. Melendez was considered by many to be the best in the division at one point; however, Henderson has looked great since getting into the UFC. The outcome should hopefully solidify who the real number one Lightweight in the world is.
Melendez does a great job with his boxing and has an awesome jab that should be able to help him maintain good distance whenever he needs to. Henderson has a tendency to get hit too much and gets a little wild with his kicks. If Melendez can keep his distance and land some power shots to hurt Henderson, he could steal some rounds and get the decision victory. Where this fight can make a big difference is during those exhausting and relentless grappling exchanges that Henderson puts opponents through. Henderson should be able to slow Melendez down late and take the championship rounds for the decision win.
Prediction: Henderson via Unanimous Decision
Daniel Cormier (11-0) vs. Frank Mir (16-6)
This bout was supposed to happen in Strikeforce back in January, but an unfortunate injury to Frank Mir cancelled those plans. Daniel Cormier will get another opportunity to fight Mir but on a much bigger stage for his UFC debut. Cormier has been as dominant as a fighter could possibly be since starting out in MMA, knocking out Antonio Silva and dominating Josh Barnett in all aspects of the sport. Mir presents a similar style to that of Barnett but his crafty bottom game and his ever improving striking should make a big difference.
If Cormier can keep this fight on the feet, and he has given fans no reason to believe why he shouldn’t, he could definitely pick Mir apart and eventually land a knockout blow. Mir is deadly from the bottom, as he has proven so often. He may want to pull guard to threaten the Olympic wrestler. It should be interesting to see how Cormier is able to dictate the pace and distance against a guy like Mir. His underrated speed and power should make the difference in this bout. Welcome to the UFC, Daniel.
Prediction: Cormier via TKO Round 2
Nate Diaz (16-8) vs. Josh Thomson (19-5)
After failing to defeat Ben Henderson for the Lightweight title, Nate Diaz makes his return against former Strikeforce Lightweight champion, Josh Thomson. A long layoff and a very poor performance against KJ Noons got under the skin of Thomson, so when he was given an opportunity to fight Gilbert Melendez for a third time, he made sure he left it all out in the cage. If that is the Thomson that is going to show up in this fight, we are guaranteed to see some fireworks.
Fans know what they are going to get out of Diaz. They will get the relentless pace and the awkward boxing along with crafty Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This fight has an awesome contrast in styles as Thompson’s wrestling and top control should definitely make this a tough fight to predict. Diaz should be able to pick apart Thomson on the feet, forcing him to shoot for a takedown. Diaz is great from the bottom and will constantly be active but despite that, Thomson should be able to take what could very well be a controversial decision.
Prediction: Thomson via Split Decision
Jordan Mein (27-8) vs. Matt Brown (16-11)
Matt Brown was originally scheduled to face Dan Hardy in what was supposed to be an amazing fight. Hardy went down with an unfortunate injury but he was replaced by Canadian Jordan Mein, in what should be an even better fight! After successfully debuting against a very tough Dan Miller, Mein has stepped up on short notice to fight Brown, who has been on his most impressive win streak of his career.
Brown has a style that is more about moving forward than utilizing any technique. He is great from the clinch and his pace is never ending. Mein proves time and time again that dealing with his boxing is a horrible idea. He has fast hands, great power and great cardio but what is most impressive about him are the angles he is able to work from. Brown will never stop but Mein should be able to dominate on the feet as long as he does not let Brown’s pace get in his head. This could easily be a fight of the year candidate.
Prediction: Mein via Unanimous Decision