UFC 150 – Henderson -vs- Edgar II – Predictions
It’s getting clichéd at this point, but here were are yet again with a UFC card that suffered from a number of injury-related changes to the original line-up. I’m not going to retread the same ground as I have before; the UFC hasn’t had a good year in terms of keeping fight cards intact between their announcement and presentation date. Regardless, UFC 150 does have some positive momentum in that last week’s UFC on FOX 4 card delivered one of the best free MMA events in recent history.
So, hopefully on that note the fighters tonight will look to emulate their peers last week and rise to the occasion. As much as it sucks to miss out on some great fights, when up-and-comers get an opportunity to steal the spotlight some times we see some great things. Also, my partner in crime Rui also returns to the fold to offer his picks as well. Enough preamble, let’s get to the fights.
Rui’s current record: 21-18
Derek’s current record: 24-15
Lightweight Championship Fight
Benson Henderson (C) -vs- Frankie Edgar
Rui: This will be another good fight but unfortunately I find that Edgar will be once again on the losing end of this one. I’m not counting him out, and he’ll come out fighting but I believe Henderson will have learned from their first fight and adjust. I have Henderson by Decision, as it’s just so damn hard to stop Edgar.
Derek: Like Rui, I have a great deal of respect for Frankie Edgar and his accomplishments in the UFC. I don’t think he’s going to lose this fight because he’s a bad fighter, I just think Henderson is at the peak of his game right now. Both guys are extremely well matched in all areas of MMA, but Henderson is a giant compared to the former champion, so I have to give him an edge here. I know Frankie thinks the last fight was controversial, but I don’t agree; Henderson definitely won the first fight.
I don’t have any reason to think this rematch will end any different. I see Henderson winning either by stoppage or decision, the latter of which being a lot more likely.
Rui’s Prediction: Benson Henderson.
Derek’s Prediction: Benson Henderson.
Donald Cerrone -vs- Melvin Guillard
Rui: Former training partners fighting one another? I’m not a huge fan of Guillard, but he’s a good athlete but he seems to fall prey to submissions and in this case his opponent is the total package. I find it hard to believe that Cerrone can cut down to 155 pounds, and still be able to pull off wins — he’s 6’0” tall and he’s not just skin and bones!
At first Cerrone seems a little stiff, but it’s the way he fights. Like a straight-forward, in-your-face fighter who rarely circles away or does any fancy footwork. Being this well rounded and having such a physique is just simply amazing. I cannot praise this guy enough and was shocked by the way he lost to Diaz! Still, I’ll take Cerrone by submission in the third.
Derek: Even before the weigh-ins, I was leaning towards Cerrone to win this fight. After Melvin weighed in 2.5 pounds over the 155 limit for the weight class, my pick was set in stone. Overall, Cerrone has a lot of advantages in this fight; solid kickboxing technique, durability, a great grappling game and a pretty good fight IQ (aside from trying to box Nate Diaz). Guillard, while very talented, has always had two big weaknesses; bad in-fight decision making, and a weakness in the submission grappling department. In a lot of respects, this fight is tailor-made for Cerrone to win.
With all of that in mind, it’s still a very real possibility that Melvin lands one of his brick-like fists right on Cerrone’s jaw and everything I just said becomes moot. Melvin is not a bad fighter by any means, but he’s got holes in his game and has a tendency to flake-out in the cage. Cerrone was within reach of a title shot before Nate put an epic beating on him, so I expect “Cowboy” is extremely motivated to notch a second consecutive win and remain in the ambiguous “mix” Dana White is always referring to. Melvin has was to win this fight, but not enough to convince me to pick him.
Rui’s Prediction: Donald Cerrone.
Derek’s Prediction: Donald Cerrone.
Jake Sheilds -vs- Ed Herman
Rui: Both are good fighters but the experience goes to Shields for sure as he’s been in the fire many times before… Looking at his record, he’s been going to decisions as of late but winning, though there is one TKO loss and Decision loss in there as well.
Derek: After entering the UFC with a substantial amount of hype behind him, grappling guru Jake Shields has had very mixed success in the octagon. After losing to GSP in the welterweight division, Shields won a gift decision over Martin Kampman, beat a dwindling Akiyama and got blasted unconscious by Jake Ellenberger. Opting to return to a division closer to his natural weight, Shields is back at middleweight and hoping to rekindle the promising career path he was on before entering the UFC.
Herman is no slouch, and — if he can keep the fight standing — should outclass Shields in the stand-up department. Shields’ gameplan is no secret to anyone; he’s got a minimal striking game that consists of a jab, and primarily tries to tie-up opponents, drag them to the ground and proceed to work his world-class jiu-jitsu game until either the round ends, he wins a decision, or secures a tap. On paper, this is Shields’ fight to lose. Ed Herman has played spoiler before, though, and has a decent wrestling base himself so Shields may have difficulty getting this fight to the ground. An upset is always possible, but I’m going to play it safe here: Shields by submission is my pick.
Rui’s Prediction: Ed Herman.
Derek’s Prediction: Jake Shields.
Yushin Okami -vs- Buddy Roberts
Rui: I couldn’t write baptism by fire as Roberts has one fight prior to this one in the UFC and they wrote that he’s “well-rounded”. He’s 12-2, so he’s doing something right but I highly doubt he’ll be able to defeat the “Thunder”, who’ll want to make some noise. Considering he’s lost his last 2 fights — even if one of them was to Anderson Silva, — I think this underrated fighter will have upped his overall training and come out with “W”. Okami by stoppage, probably in the third round.
Derek: After losing — as most expected — to Anderson Silva, Okami seemed poised to get back on the winning track in his bout with Tim Boestch. That, somehow Tim Boestch pulled a rabbit out of his hat and unleashed one of the most furious, brutal comebacks in MMA history and suddenly Okami — who had been handily winning two whole rounds — was crumpled in a heap and still in the losing bracket.
Like Rui said, this may not be Roberts’ first time in the octagon, but it’s definitely a major step up in competition. Despite the one-sided beating Anderson put on Okami, and Boestch’s epic comeback, this is a tough fight for anyone. I expect Yushin to implement his typical gameplan; throw jabs, bully his opponent in the clinch and ragdoll him with superior wrestling. This is a big chance for Roberts, but I think it will end up being a learning experience for him and a much needed victory for Yushin Okami.
Rui’s Prediction: Yushin Okami.
Derek’s Prediction: Yushin Okami
Justin Lawrence -vs- Max Holloway
Rui: Two up and comers with big expectations for both of these fighters. Heard many good things from Holloway, but one thing that always makes me wonder for a striker is their takedown defense. (Especially when his opponent is a good wrestler, such as with Lawrence.) I will usually put my money on the wrestler — unless there is a glaringly obvious reason this is a bad idea — and will have to do the same again in my pick on this one. I’ll take Lawrence by TKO in the first.
Derek: Although I am probably setting myself up for a post-fight disappointment, I think Holloway is going to pull off an upset here. While Lawrence looked pretty good onThe Ultimate Fighter: Live, I thought he was given a lot of praise for someone who is both very young and inexperienced at MMA. Lawrence has a lot of things going for him, a credentialed background in striking as well as a solid wrestling base; it’s not that I think he’s a bad fighter, but he’s still maturing. Holloway has looked very smart in his fights, and the only knock against him that I can find documented anyway is a lack of KO power; not exactly the worst problem to have. (That means he hits dudes a lot.)
I’ll take Holloway as the winner here, though I’m not sure how. Lawrence is tough, but he’s been stopped.
Rui’s Prediction: Justin Lawrence.
Derek’s Prediction: Max Holloway.
As always, be sure to check back tomorrow for the post-fight analysis and possibly some bitching and moaning about how bad my picks turned out to be.