Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis
There are moments that define every organization from the time they start to their last days. For the WEC, it was the last fight in their history, in the last round, in the last couple minutes, where some guy jumped off the cage and kicked some other dude in the face. Well, if you’re wondering where those guys are now, they’re fighting in a rematch of that unbelievable bout from three years ago.
The UFC makes their way back to the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on August 31 for UFC 164. UFC Lightweight champion Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson will headline the card as he defends his title against Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis in a rematch of their December 2010 bout. The five main card bouts will be aired live on PPV. There will be four preliminary bouts aired live on Sportsnet 360 in Canada and Fox Sports 1 in the US. The remaining three bouts will be aired live on Facebook.
UFC Lightweight Championship Bout:
(c) Benson Henderson (19-2) vs. Anthony Pettis (16-2)
Feels like just yesterday that Anthony Pettis used the cage as a catapult for one of the most spectacular kicks in MMA history. In the final WEC bout in the organizations history, he and Benson Henderson fought in arguably one of the best back and forth fights of all time. Both fighters have gone on different paths upon entering the UFC, with Henderson flying through competition to eventually win the title and defend it multiple times and Pettis starting slow but finding himself in his last two bouts, knocking out top competition with devastating blows in the first round.
This has been a much-anticipated rematch that not many may have predicted as a title fight after the UFC absorbed all WEC contracts. Pettis and Henderson have earned their reputation as the two best Lightweights in the world and will have another chance to put on a crazy display of martial arts technique from their wide arsenal of skills. What made their first fight so incredible is their willingness to display outstanding grappling, clinching and striking for 25 straight minutes in what was a very tough fight to call until the aforementioned “Showtime kick”.
Henderson is the champion for a reason and has looked terrific on the feet and on the ground since his arrival. Despite a couple controversial decisions against top contenders Gilbert Melendez and Frankie Edgar, there is still little questioning his status as the best Lightweight in the world. His best ability going into this fight against Pettis will be his strength. Pettis is a small Lightweight while Henderson is considered fairly large for the division. If he is able to impose his will by clinching and getting takedowns while controlling him from top position, he can come out on top.
Pettis is one of the few guys that will be quicker to the punch than Henderson. If he can get in tight and sway away from the clinching of the champion, Pettis may be able to win the rematch, once again taking a championship belt from Henderson. It is safe to guarantee that this will be an exciting back and forth bout, similar to the first. Henderson is a great fighter but he seems to get hit a bit too much and Pettis is not a fighter you want to be hit by. Cardio will not be an issue, which may actually end up playing into the favor of Pettis, who will be able to maintain a distinct speed advantage en route to a decision victory.
Prediction: Pettis via Unanimous Decision
Frank Mir (16-7) vs. Josh Barnett (32-6)
It is safe to say that this fight was made for all those who have a historic attachment to the UFC’s Heavyweight division. Nostalgia is the best way to describe a bout between Frank Mir and Josh Barnett. Both men are well past their primes but are still considered top 10 material Heavyweights and have been able to prove it on multiple occasions against legitimate competition.
While Mir has been fighting the best of the best, Barnett has spent quite some time outside of the UFC, fighting arguably lower level competition until his run in Strikeforce, where he looked great against a couple of legitimate fighters before being derailed by Daniel Cormier. The reason this bout is so intriguing is that both men have been considered the top American Heavyweight grapplers and many have been disappointed that their paths have yet to cross. Well, better late than never.
Mir has a legitimate Brazilian jiu-jitsu base with much improved striking. He has been able to submit some of the best grapplers and knock out some top tier strikers in the UFC. Barnett, on the other hand, possesses some of the best and unique catch wrestling skills in the sport and has always had aggressive and frustrating striking. It should be one of the best style clashes the division can offer and one of the toughest fights to call on paper. Let’s go with Barnett testing the always-questionable chin of Mir with a TKO victory.
Prediction: Barnett via TKO Round 2
Chad Mendes (14-1) vs. Clay Guida (30-13)
Should fans be excited about this fight? That’s tough to say. Clay Guida has often given us great fights that have been drowned out by some horrible performances. Well, Chad Mendes likely won’t allow that from Guida. If Guida wants to circle the cage like he did against Maynard, Mendes, who is one of the most aggressive fighters in the Featherweight division, will likely rush him.
Both fighters have a strong wrestling base and have solid in and out boxing that they utilize to set up explosive takedowns. The difference between the two is technique versus sheer activity. Mendes is a very technically sound and an overall talented fighter while Guida gives up a lot of talent in fights but makes up for it by constantly moving and having a fantastic gas tank.
Guida has been criticized plenty over his last two fights and with good reason. Mendes, on the other hand, has been disgustingly dominant. He deserves top three fighters only. That being said, it is tough to consider Guida a top three fighter with his inconsistencies in the cage. Mendes should explode on Guida and use his speed to control the bout on the ground and on the fence, even against the former Lightweight.
Prediction: Mendes via Unanimous Decision
Brandon Vera (12-6) vs. Ben Rothwell (32-9)
Two longtime veterans of MMA will clash in what looks like it will be a loser leaves town match as Brandon Vera makes his return to the Heavyweight division to take on Ben Rothwell. Vera has not fought in the Heavyweight division since 2008 and he will be moving up to take on the much larger Rothwell. This should be an interesting battle between speed and size.
Rothwell has looked pretty bad in the UFC, to say the least. Outside of a miracle knockout of Brendan Schaub, he really has not been able to have much success inside the Octagon. He was fairly dominant in his IFL days and he will likely never get anywhere near that kind of success, but he does have enough talent to hold his own in the UFC. He just seems to be struggling mentally. He has the size and power with enough submission ability to do well.
Vera presents a different kind of challenge though. Now that Vera has moved up to the division where he had his most success, he has a great chance of using his speed and quick striking to his advantage. Rothwell generally walks around flat footed, as he is not very mobile, something Vera will definitely take advantage of as he uses a wide variety of leg kicks and jabs en route to a decision victory.
Prediction: Vera via Unanimous Decision
Erik Koch (13-2) vs. Dustin Poirier (13-3)
It has been a tough road for both Erik Koch and Dustin Poirier of late. Koch had a title shot booked multiple times but injuries kept him and Aldo outside of the cage and he eventually took a fight with Ricardo Lamas instead, getting dominated and finished in devastating fashion via ground and pound. Poirier was so close to a title shot but losses to Chan Sung Jung and Cub Swanson have held him back.
Both fighters are two of the most talented the Featherweight division has to offer. Injuries and mental breakdowns in fights have been their handicap. They have a chance to skyrocket themselves within the division with an impressive performance and neither guy will want to miss out on that opportunity. Koch is a nasty striker with solid grappling while Poirier is the definition of well rounded young fighter that just does a little bit of everything.
This fight is all about control. Poirier is likely the more overall talented fighter but is not as proven as Koch. If Poirier wants to win this bout, he will need to be mentally settled down, ready to avoid the mistakes that have cost him some bouts before. If Koch can keep the fight standing and control the Octagon, he could win the fight. Something about a full training camp and work ethic has me leaning towards Poirier. Should be interesting to see what happens.
Prediction: Poirier via Unanimous Decision