Check out our UFC 164 predictions ahead of the event in Milwaukee on Saturday night.

Main Card:

Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis

Much of the attention in their first encounter in the WEC was drawn towards the remarkable ‘Showtime Kick’ from Pettis, but that aside it was a very close fight that could have gone either way.

I see no reason to expect anything other than another close encounter between these two this time around. On the feet Pettis is the more technical, slicker, dynamic striker, but Henderson’s got some heavy kicks, his hands have improved since their last meeting and he’s as tough as they come. Still, Pettis has the advantage here.

Henderson is stronger and generally better as far as grappling goes though. While Pettis has looked very impressive recently, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Guida shut him down with dominant wrestling in his UFC debut and Henderson could look to emulate that. Henderson’s not quite as stifling as Guida though, tending to leave some openings which Pettis could exploit to get back upright.

I’m torn here. I think we’re heading towards a decision, but who gets the nod? I can see Pettis catching the judges eye with his flashy strikes on the feet, but Henderson’s a smart fighter and I see him competing strategically, using takedowns to score points. I’ll with Bendo’s wrestling to be the deciding factor here.

Ben Henderson to win by decision.

Josh Barnett vs. Frank Mir

Two heavyweight veterans collide in the co-main event and it’s an interesting stylistic match-up. I’d give the striking edge to Mir, he has more power and is generally a bit more comfortable on the feet. While Mir’s ability to recover from punches is highly questionable, I don’t see Barnett having the power to trouble him too much.

Barnett’s biggest advantage here is his wrestling. He’ll work better in the clinch and it’s going to be much easier for him to take down Mir than vice-versa so he should be able to establish top control which will give him an immediate advantage. Mir is very skilled with submissions even from his back, but Barnett fights intelligently and won’t rush into anything, instead methodically controlling both tempo and position.

I’d certainly not discount Mir in this fight by any means, especially if he can keep it standing, but I have a feeling Barnett’s going to frustrate him on the mat and win by decision.

Josh Barnett to win by decision.

Clay Guida vs. Chad Mendes

There’s a number of well-matched fights on this card and this is certainly one of them. Both Guida and Mendes are dominant wrestlers so it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top in that regard.

On the feet, Mendes is finally blossoming into a dangerous striker with genuine power in his hands. On the other hand Guida’s not especially technical or hard-hitting, but he’s exceptionally tough and is gritty in a fire-fight. However, he’s been acting somewhat bizarrely in the cage lately, preferring to bounce around energetically, but not actually do a whole lot of fighting. Hopefully we won’t be seeing a repeat of that tomorrow night.

Guida can be hard to beat and his pace can be hard to deal with, but I still fancy Mendes’ chances here. I think he can shut down Guida’s grappling and land the more telling blows on the feet to emerge with a tight decision win here.

Chad Mendes to win by decision.

Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera

Vera tries to re-energize his career by moving back up to heavyweight, but to do so he has to get past a wily veteran in Rothwell.

Vera’s unquestionably the far more technical striker with his muay thai in this bout, but I question whether he’s going to have the power to break down Rothwell who’ll be able to absorb a lot of punishment and will still pose a threat with his heavy hands.

More likely though Rothwell won’t be looking to indulge Vera on the feet. He has the wrestling and size advantage which should come in very handy. From there either ground and pound or a submission will be decent possibilities for him, and I think he can get the stoppage inside of two rounds.

Ben Rothwell to win by TKO in Rd2.

Erik Koch vs. Dustin Poirier

This is another finely balanced, intriguing match-up between two very talented young featherweight fighters.

Both of these guys are dynamic, fast-paced and well rounded competitors who should be able to mix it up wherever the fight goes. Koch’s perhaps slightly more dangerous on his feet, particularly with kicks and more active on the submission front, but Poirier’s wrestling is a little better and he blends all of aspects of his game together very smoothly at a high-tempo.

I could see this one turning into a bit of a barnburner and if it goes to a decision I feel Poirier might just edge it, but instead I’m going to take Koch to hurt Poirier with strikes on the feet in the second round to claim a TKO victory.

Erik Koch to win by TKO in Rd2.

Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)

Gleison Tibau vs. Jamie Varner
Tim Elliott vs. Louis Gaudinot
Pascal Krauss vs. Hyun Gyu Lim
Chico Camus vs. Kyung Ho Kang
Nikita Krylov vs. Soa Palelei
Ryan Couture vs. Al Iaquinta
Magnus Cedenblad vs. Jared Hamman