Chicago, Illinois – August 29, 2013
UFC 164: HENDERSON VS. PETTIS
Aug 31, 2013 BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
“Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny”
- Bob Marley
Throughout history there are players that are meant to oppose each other, like Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarity, Captian Kirk and Kahn, Ali and Fraizer. . . You could easily add "Smooth" Henderson and "Showtime" Pettis to that list. Back when WEC was still around, Pettis more than lived up to his namesake, snatching Henderson's lightweight belt with the "kick heard round the world", a stunner of absolute “Matrix-ocity”. It was the highlight reel to end all highlight reels. Like a true champion, Henderson rose above the humiliation, becoming UFC's current LW title holder. The UFC finally brings us the inevitable reunion of these two top-shelf competitors. Warming up the eagerly awaiting audience, two heavy-weight vets with a beef so thick, you can serve it as dinner. I'm talking about Mir and Barnett, who never entered the ring together, but have been fighting in the grudge arena for some time now. This card also sees the return of Brandon "The Truth" Vera to the heavy-weight division and a feather-weight top-ten tussle. These are my picks and predictions for UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis.
BENSON “SMOOTH” HENDERSON CHAMP(21-2) VS. ANTHONY “SHOWTIME” PETTIS #2(18-2)
Injuries have plagued "Showtime", keeping him at a frustrating arms length from both the light-weight and feather-weight title shots. It has been a long time since we have seen this flashy, yet effective young contender in the octagon and that will play a factor in what will definitely be his toughest test to date. Yes, the current champ Henderson was the receiver of the Pettis "wire work", cage walking, belt snatching, roundhouse kick, but he is not the same fighter he was 3 years ago. Since then, Henderson has defeated the top of the light-weight food chain, with victories over Bocek, Jim Miller, Guida, Frankie Edgar twice, Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. Before his sidelining injuries, Pettis was on a 3 fight win streak, destroying "Cowboy" Cerrone with a powerful body kick. The Champ is a slight odds favorite, but those in the know realize Pettis has the potential to finish Henderson. The stars lined up for this one, but the injured TJ Grant would strongly disagree, since he was next in line for a shot at Henderson. That being said, the question remains, “Is Pettis ready for this? Should he have fought another top tier LW before facing Henderson?” I think so. Prediction: Henderson by decision, setting up a future rubber-match.
FRANK MIR (16-7)#6 VS. JOSH BARNETT #10 (39-6)
MMA physics lesson # 1: When an irresistible force meets and immovable object, you have some serious action in the Octagon. Josh Barnett and Frank Mir do not like each other and that could result in both heavyweights fighting emotionally, albeit with decades of honed skill between them. Barnett will most likely utilize his seasoned grappling and top game, taking Mir to the mat, while attempting a GNP TKO. Good plan, but we're talking Mir here, an anaconda trapped in a man's body. Mir’s last effort was a good show against the heavily-favored Daniel Cormier and that could partly be attributed to Mir adopting Jackson MMA as his new training farm. Barnett is the slight favorite in this razor-thin contention. It will be a game of inches, Barnett giving Mir an inch and Mir taking a foot. Prediction: Mir leg locks Barnett, ending it with a submission.
CHAD MENDES (14-1)#1 VS. CLAY “THE CARPENTER” GUIDA (30-13)#9
After dropping his last 2 LW fights to top 10 contenders, Guida went down a weight division and notched a split-decision win against Hatsu Hioki. Mendes power-punched his way through his last 3 opponents, finishing all by TKO. That 1 in Mendes’ “L” column was to Champ Jose Aldo. Guida’s grind out style will keep Mendes on his toes, but won’t be a serious threat to the NCAA Division I wrestler. Mendes is favored, he’s earned that. It will be a tough test, but I see Mendes unloading on Guida with some ill will punches. Prediction: Mendes by TKO.
BEN ROTHWELL (32-9) VS. BRADON VERA (12-6)
Having been out of the cage for over a year, Vera returns to the HW class that he started out with. He goes up against Ben Rothwell, who’s been “ping ponging” his way through the UFC (loss/win/loss/win/loss). Vera is the favorite in this contest and rightly so. He will use his superior speed and striking skills to his advantage. Rothwell will put up a fight in the 1st round through sheer strength and then run low in the tank come the 2nd. Prediction: Vera by TKO 2nd round.
ERIK KOCH (13-2)#6 VS. DUSTIN POIRIER (13-3) #10
Looking past the losses to Top 10 Feathers Cub Swanson and Chan Sung Jung, Poirier looked impressive against a game Jonathan Brookins, submitting him with a d’arce choke. Koch also defeated Brookins and KO'd Raphael Assuncao before being on the receiving end of Ricardo Lamas’ vicious elbows. Setbacks for both of these upcoming 145ers, who face each other in a match that sees the victor bounce back into the thick of the feather-weight fray. Odds favor Koch, but not by much. This is a very close fight to call. Hometown advantage goes to Koch. It also doesn’t hurt that MMA and striking trainer extraordinaire Duke Roufus is Koch’s Mr. Miyagi. Prediction: Koch by strikes.