Ufc on Fox 7 Breakdown and Predictions
UFC is putting on the 7th major network television event this Saturday, and it’s about time you figured out the score. Let’s dive right in with the main event:
Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez:
This is a bit of a grudge match with Henderson’s last title defense coming at the decisive expense of Melendez’ training partner, Nate Diaz. The so called “Skrap Pack” are on a bit of a skid lately with Nate and Nick both losing to top flight competition, and Jake Shields coming off of a boring win that was overturned to a no contest for a failed drug test. The most successful of the camp is still Melendez, who most recently eked out a third victory over Josh Thomson. Melendez cited lack of motivation for his poor performance in that bout. This won’t be a problem in Saturday’s match as he’s got plenty of pressure, exposure, and bragging rights on the line. That last fight was very close and a little controversial, but Melendez held on to the Strikeforce strap and was granted top contender status as the promotion was folded into the UFC.
Henderson on the other hand, blasted through Nate Diaz in his last effort with diverse striking, superior grappling, and a damn toothpick in his mouth for good luck. If we’re judging by the last performances of these two lightweights, Bendo has a definite edge. He’s got more weapons on the feet, a better wrestling pedigree on paper, and the submission defense to counter virtually any crafty Gracie BJJ tricks Melendez might be plotting on the ground.
Melendez is a boxing dynamo, and unlike his campmates, the Diaz bros, his footwork is fairly impressive as well. His ability to bait his opponents and set up powerful counters could cause Henderson some problems, but as Melendez’ kicks aren’t anything to write home about, I have a hard time seeing him dominating this aspect of the fight. As I mentioned, Henderson’s got a better wrestling pedigree on paper. In an actual fight, this facet of their games is probably much more even. So even, in fact, that I see them both stifling each other on the ground. If I have to give an edge anywhere it’s to Henderson for being so athletic and explosive.
The determining factor in this fight I think will be who becomes overly aggressive. If Gil can patiently set up his counters and avoid the powerful leg kicks that Henderson will be blasting him with, he’s got a definite shot to put Ben down for the count. However, Benson has shown an excellent ability to fight at his own pace, and deal with more effective boxers than Melendez, (that’s a shout out to Frankie Edgar, if you hadn’t guessed.) With so many tools, and that insane athleticism at his disposal, I just can’t see this fight going anywhere but where the champ wants it to.
Henderson via a highly technical and extremely entertaining 5 round decision.
Frank Mir vs. Daniel Cormier
I wasn’t excited about this fight until I saw the “Road to the Octagon” special on Fox. I thought Cormier would just steamroll Mir like he did Josh Barnett, but a couple of factors have made me readjust my expectations.
One, Cormier has said he’s not looking to finish but instead, grind out a painful 15 minute decision against Mir. Two, Mir switched up his camp and has been training with Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn for this fight. Three, I rewatched Cormier’s deeply unimpressive fight with Dion Starring at the Strikeforce finale.
So here’s where I’m at with this fight now: Cormier is an aggressive semi-technical boxer with sub-par kicks; Mir is a semi-technical kickboxer with par kicks. However, with the increased intensity of Mir’s training, and the impeccable game planning of the Jackson/Winklejohn duo I believe he might be able to increase the effectiveness of his striking to a point where he can be quite competitive standing up. Next, if Cormier wants this fight to go to the ground, that’s where it’s going. Mir on the ground is scary. He’s always got scary finishing potential, and though he’s been stifled by superior wrestling in the past, he still has a wealth of experience sneakily taking out high level competition when they aren’t expecting it.
The same can’t be said for Cormier, whose most impressive win remains his match with Josh Barnett. He out grappled a savvy grappler, but he was clearly in much better shape than the veteran. He is probably still going to be in better shape than Mir, but the gap there won’t be nearly as wide. If he can maintain position without putting himself at risk for 3 rounds, this is his fight to lose. But one misstep with Mir and you’re going to end up with a broken limb.
Am I perhaps getting caught up in the fight promotion hype, and making an intentionally uninformed/emotional decision? Probably.
Mir via improbable 2nd round Submission.
…Aaaaand logic gets the better of me while editing.
Cormier via predictable unanimous decision. For real this time.
Josh Thomson vs. Nate Diaz
This is by far the least certain I’m feeling about a fight on the main card. These two men are very equally matched. Diaz is a great boxer; Thomson is an effective all around striker. Diaz has strong submission skills and so does Thomson. Thomson’s got the edge in wrestling, while Diaz is a cardio machine who’s almost impossible to finish. This is one of those rare moments where I wish every fight were 5 rounds.
These two will go to war for 3 and if you’d let them, they’d go to war for an additional ten minutes, and then Diaz would go for a bike ride. This is a really tough one for me to pick, because Diaz has the more impressive streak of late, but he’s had trouble with good wrestlers in the past, and he doesn’t have the out and out strength it would take to KO Thomson. This one’s a tossup, but I think Josh’s grappling carries the day.
Thomson via split decision?
Jordan Mein vs. Matt Brown
This is an interesting match with a lot of implications in the pecking order of the division. Two dudes with a ton of experience are on an absolute tear and they’re looking to move into the mix at the shark tank that is welterweight. 23 year old Jordan Mein is on a 3 fight win streak after dropping a split decision against Tyron Woodley. He’s looking to keep the momentum going against The Immortal Matt Brown, who’s blasted through his last 4 opponents with dominant ease. This is a tough call. Youth and vigor vs. age and savvy. I would say experience, but Mein has more fights somehow.
Brown’s had trouble with submissions in the past, and Mein’s got some clean jujitsu, his standup is no joke either so he’s likely to be the more technical striker. Brown has some good, not great, grappling, but so far in Mein’s career it hasn’t taken an elite level grappler to take and keep him down. In essence each fighter has a skillset which has caused the other some problems in fight’s past. The surging Jordan Mein is a heavy favorite in this fight, and I expect there’s a reason for that.
Jordan Mein via 3rd round submission.
As for the rest of the best here’s my quick picks for the preliminary cards:
Chad Mendez vs. Darren Elkins- Mendez 1st round KO.
Francis Carmont vs. Lorenz Larkin- Larkin 2nd round TKO
Miles Jury vs. Ramsay Nijem- Jury 3rd round submission
Joe Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama- Benavidez Unanimous decision
Tim Means vs. Jorge Masvidal- Means 3rd round TKO
T.J. Dillashaw vs. Hugo Viana- Dillashaw unanimous decision
Anthony Njokuani vs. Roger Bowling- Njokuani 1st round TKO
Clifford Starks vs. Yoel Romero- Yoel Romero unanimous decision