It’s the UFC’s 150th event tomorrow night in Denver and we’ve got our predictions for all the big fights below.
Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar
Edgar’s done great things in the UFC’s lightweight division, but I’m in the camp that thinks he’d do even better at featherweight and I think this fight will be the final push he needs to finally make that move.
While Edgar does have a speed advantage over the current champion, What Henderson has that someone like Gray Maynard didn’t was an ability to match, and at times outdo his intensity, energy and endurance.
In addition Henderson is bigger and stronger than Edgar and can match him in the grappling department. he’s also very durable – not that Edgar isn’t, but while ‘The Answer’ is tough to finish, he’s shown in a number of fight recently that he can be badly hurt.
Overall it just looks like a fight that favors Henderson more and I think it’ll play out in fairly similar fashion to their last meeting with the champ getting the decision victory.
Ben Henderson to win by decision.
Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard
This match-up certainly has the potential to produce fireworks if it stays standing. Of the two Guillard is the more dangerous strike with both speed and KO power on his side.
Luckily for Cerrone he has a cast-iron jaw, but nonetheless he’d be wise to use his 3″ height and 2″ reach advantage to keep this fight at range and turn this into a technical fight rather than the all-out brawl that Guillard will be pushing for.
Really though the perfect gameplan for Cerrone would be to avoid the striking battle altogether as there’s a huge gulf in class between the two men on the floor. Cerrone’s transitions from the striking to takedowns nicely and if he does get him on the mat, his submission skills against Guillard’s notoriously underdeveloped defense would have fight-ending consequences.
It’s all a matter of whether Cerrone will follow that gameplan or get sucked into a brawl with Guillard instead. I think he might choose the latter option in the early stages, but will eventually change his mind in the face of Guillard’s heavier firepower and opt to take him down and tap him out instead.
Donald Cerrone to win by submission in Rd2.
Ed Herman vs. Jake Shields
Shields returns to 185lbs for the first time since vacating his Strikeforce middleweight title and he’ll be hoping that leads to an improvement on the rather lukewarm performances he’s put on so far in his UFC career.
I’m not so sure. Regardless of the weight class Shields striking remains sub-standard for a fighter at his level, though he’s lucky on this occasion in that Herman isn’t particularly noteworthy in this regard either.
Shields does have better wrestling than Herman though and is a skilled jiu-jitsu player. Herman’s BJJ is his strong suit too though so I think that even if he is able to take him down, Shields might have to rely on dominant positional control to score him points rather than a submission to earn the victory.
One big question mark will be over Shields cardio. It’s been poor in recent fights, and a move up in weight coupled with an admission that he’s struggled to adjust to Denver’s high altitude suggests he’ll tire if the fight goes 15 minutes. I think he’ll still do enough to get the win, but I think the performance will be sloppy.
Jake Shields to win by decision.
Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts
A late swap in opponent sees Okami facing what looks on paper at least to be a must easier opponent in Roberts (rather than Rousimar Palhares).
Despite the fact he lost to Tim Boetsch last time out, Okami actually looked very good in that fight, with his striking notably improved. Add that to strong clinchwork, high level judo and a smothering top game and this begins to look like a very tough match-up for Roberts indeed.
To his credit Roberts picked up a win in his UFC debut back in June, but there wasn’t anything in that performance to suggest he’s ready for such a big step up.
His main assets in that fight were his jab from range and good takedown defense and they’ll certainly come in handy against Okami, but I don’t think it’ll be enough and he’ll get outgrappled for much of the 15 minute fight.
Yushin Okami to win by decision.
Justin Lawrence vs. Max Holloway
This has all the making of a stand-up battle between these two up and coming featherweight fighters.
Both men are talented and versatile strikers, though Holloway generally focuses more on crisp boxing combinations with the occasional flashier technique thrown in for good measure, while Lawrence’s kickboxing background shows with his varied diet of kicks and punches. I’d give a power advantage to Lawrence, but Holloway has the busier overall work rate.
If the fight does happen to hit the floor then Lawrence will have the edge with his superior wrestling, but I’d expect him to only utilize this if the fight on the feet isn’t going his way.
This should be a close, entertaining fight and while I think he’ll have to work hard to keep up with Holloway’s pace I’m going for Lawrence to land the better strikes over the course of three rounds to get his hand raised at the end of the fight.
Justin Lawrence to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Dennis Bermudez vs. Tom Hayden
Jared Hamman vs. Michael Kuiper
Ken Stone vs. Erik Perez
Dustin Pague vs. Chico Camus
Eiji Mitsuoka Vs. Nik Lentz