It’s the biggest thing to happen to Toronto since the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1967. And given the Maple Leafs struggles over the years, it will probably be the biggest thing to happen to Toronto for at least another 50 years. Instead of watching subpar performances from Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, and Jean-Sebastien Giguera, Toronto fans get to enjoy watching two of the five best fighters in the world as well as the last performance of a legend in this sport. And if that weren’t enough, since they don’t have ice girls in the original six city, Toronto fans can enjoy the lovely Brittney Palmer, who officially knows of my existence.
UFC Welterweight Title Fight: Jake Shields vs. Georges St. Pierre ©
Georges St. Pierre looks to defend his UFC Welterweight Title for sixth time at UFC 129 and for the second straight time in his home country of Canada. Standing in his way though is Jake Shields, undefeated since 2005.
When you win 15 straight fights, many people will say that you’re not fighting the right competition. Well Shields’ competition includes Dan Henderson, Jason Miller, Carlos Condit, Yuhsin Okami, Martin Kampmann, and other high level fighters and you don’t beat those guys by simply being lucky. Some people will say that his striking is underrated, but that’s only because most believe that his striking is a zero out of ten when really it’s a two or three out of ten. So in that sense, yes, Shields’ striking is underrated. About the only thing he does on the feet is throw slow leg kicks, decent lead leg body kicks, and a solid one two. If he throws anything else against St. Pierre, then he’s either been holding back all these years or he’s improved a lot in a short time. One thing I will say about Shields is that he does seem to have a hell of a chin. He got dropped early against Henderson but he quickly regained his wits and took some hard shots later in the round but always stayed composed. St. Pierre is more of a volume striker though so while Shields was able to eat power shots, it remains to be seen if he can withstand an onslaught of strikes. Shields’ bread and butter is his top game jiu-jitsu but getting St. Pierre to the ground will be a lot easier said than done. Shields has a quick single leg takedown but he doesn’t really set it up, outside of sometimes throwing a jab. He also does a nice job of timing kicks and turning them into takedown attempts. To Shields’ credit, he is relentless with his single leg attempt but St. Pierre has such incredible balance that he might be better off giving up on the takedown rather than wasting his energy trying to wrestle St. Pierre down. One thing Shields has is a nasty guillotine choke and he’s very good at locking it on in the clinch. If Shields can’t get St. Pierre down, he could push him up against the cage, and then allow St. Pierre to turn things around, thus giving him a possible false sense of security, and quickly lock on the guillotine choke. If Shields can get St. Pierre down, then the fight will get very interesting. Shields has very good top control and he’s excellent at passing to better positions. He’s great at using head control to pass, he’s very patient, and often times he likes to pass to his right. Not only is his top control very good but he’s outstanding in scrambles, almost always ending up in a dominant position and he’s constantly looking for submissions. He likes to go for kimuras and arm triangles from side control and armbars and guillotines from mount. Even though a lot has been made about Jake’s jiu-jitsu, he’s never shown much off his back. He likes to grab hold of his opponents legs when he’s on his back and a lot of times he’ll just use that to initiate a scramble or get to his feet. If Shields finds himself on his back in this fight, unless he has a slick guard that he’s been hiding all these years, he’s going to be in a lot of trouble. A lot has been made about Jake’s cardio considering that he badly gassed in the first round against Kampmann but I wouldn’t put too much stock into that performance. He went about the cut the wrong way (trying a crash diet instead of properly cutting weight) and it obviously affected his conditioning. While Shields’ cardio is still questionable compared to St. Pierre, it won’t be as bad as it was in the Kampmann fight. I expect that we’ll see the best Shields ever in this fight. He’s already at a great camp with Cesar Gracie but what will benefit him is the fact that his top training partners: Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, and Gilbert Melendez, all fought in the same time frame so you know they pushed each other in camp. Not only that but they brought in Chael Sonnen to further help with Jake’s wrestling. The problem is, I’m sure if the best Shields is good enough to beat the best St. Pierre. Shields needs to somehow get this fight to the ground and he needs to be on top. His best bet might be getting things into the clinch where he can initiate scrambles, try for a guillotine, use the cage to help with takedowns, and even bait St. Pierre into taking him down where he can turn things into a grappling contest. The only way I see Shields winning this fight is if he catches St. Pierre with a guillotine or any other submission early in the fight. There’s a chance that he wins three out of five rounds by scoring takedowns and controlling St. Pierre but St. Pierre hasn’t lost a round since August 2007 so it’s hard to imagine him losing three rounds this Saturday.
If you ask me who the most well rounded fighter in MMA today is, St. Pierre would be my answer. He does everything well and he does it smoothly and calculated. People call him a robot in the media but he’s also a robot in the cage. That’s not a bad thing mind you. If robots fought in MMA, unless they were facing Will Smith, they’d probably dominate the sport. Against Josh Koscheck, St. Pierre showed off an outstanding jab that he used to blind Koscheck in one eye. Besides his snake-like and accurate jab, St. Pierre has a quick inside leg kick, a good straight right set up by the double jab, and of course his patented superman jab-leg kick combo. St. Pierre biggest strength on the feet though is his ability to get in and out without getting hit and using distance to his advantage. Koscheck proved that St. Pierre’s takedowns aren’t unstoppable by stuffing a couple of his attempts in their UFC 124 meeting but Shields’ defensive wrestling isn’t as good as Koscheck’s and if Shields truly believes in his jiu-jitsu, he should welcome the takedown should St. Pierre go for it. St. Pierre does have a tendency to leave his neck exposed when going for takedowns but will Shields be quick enough to capitalize given St. Pierre’s ability to mix up his strikes with his takedowns? That remains to be seen. On top, St. Pierre has excellent control. When he wants to, he does a great job of posturing up and raining down strikes although lately he seems very content on just lay in his opponents guard and playing things a bit safer. He’s great passing and while he uses head control to pass, he also uses his striking to set up his passes. If there’s any hole in St. Pierre’s top game, it’s his back control. For some reason he’s very sloppy on the back and usually loses position when he goes for an armbar. Instead of using hooks, he’d be better off using a body triangle but we’ve never really seen that from him. Like Shields, St. Pierre isn’t really known for his dangerous guard and that’s because he’s so good at getting to his feet when he’s on his back. Of course he’s never had someone quite like Shields on top of him but given St. Pierre’s strength and athleticism, I don’t think he’ll be on his back very long should he end up in the position. One thing I’ve noticed about St. Pierre in watching UFC Primetime is that he’s doing a lot of work from the southpaw position. In previous fights when he switches to southpaw, he usually throws one strike and then switches back. I have a sneaky feeling that we’ll see a lot of St. Pierre in southpaw during this fight, if only to throw Shields off a bit when it comes to Shields attempting his single leg takedown. Nobody follows a game plan better than St. Pierre and I’m sure his game plan in this fight will be to keep things on the feet. He’ll likely counter Shields when he throws a lazy kick and I think we’ll see a lot of leg kicks from St. Pierre in this fight in order to take away some of the explosiveness of Shields’ single leg attempt. Maybe the leg kicks get St. Pierre taken down but he’s so quick with them and his balance is so good that I don’t think they’ll get him in trouble. St. Pierre has lacked that killer instinct in recent fights but he still has the power and overwhelming striking ability to finish Shields with his hands or feet. I’m not sure he’ll be able to submit Shields, unless it’s by rear naked choke and of course he could win the decision by controlling things on the feet and staying off his back.
I don’t want to write off Shields because he’s a top-level fighter and he’s proven that over the years but St. Pierre is St. Pierre. He appears to be on a whole other level from not only every welterweight but also from the majority of fighters. I think this fight ends up looking like St. Pierre vs. Matt Hughes 2. St. Pierre will use leg kicks and Shields will try to get the takedown and if it doesn’t come early, he’ll lose a lot of confidence and start taking bad shots, which will lead to St. Pierre countering and finishing Shields.
Prediction: Georges St. Pierre to defeat Jake Shields by TKO in Round Two
UFC Featherweight Title Fight: Mark Hominick vs. Jose Aldo ©
While the main event features a Canadian trying to defend his UFC gold, the co-main event features a Canadian trying to earn UFC gold. Highly touted Mark Hominick battles Jose Aldo, looking to make the first defense of his UFC Featherweight Title.
While Hominick sort of lucked into this position thanks to a terrible performance by Josh Grispi at UFC 125, he earned the fight by making a statement against George Roop in his last bout. Hominick is an outstanding striker, not only with his technical offense but his defense as well. He throws tight punches, has a quick straight right, puts together very good combinations, and uses an effective jab. He has a tendency to duck to his right when he jabs but he keeps his hands high in order to block any counter punches. One thing Hominick does very well is throw ripping body shots. He does a great job at changing levels and mixing up his striking. He can’t get lazy when he throws to the body though because Aldo is one of the few fighters who will counter with not only knees but also uppercuts. Defensively, Hominick protects his head very well by getting his hands back in time and displaying very good head movement but he doesn’t check leg kicks. I’m sure Hominick has taken plenty of leg kicks in training given his kickboxing background but taking them in sparring and taking them from Aldo are two different things. Aldo throws leg kicks with such precision and power that he could probably buckle some heavyweights, much less a fellow featherweight. Hominick’s wrestling is decent but not spectacular. Aldo was able to stuff the takedowns of Manny Gamburyan, Mike Brown, and Urijah Faber so I doubt he’ll have too much trouble stuffing the takedowns of Hominick, should Hominick attempt one. It’s very possible that Hominick ends up on his back in this fight and should that happen, you can expect him to attempt a triangle. Hominick has an active guard and it’s effective against lower level grapplers but I’m not sure that it will be all that effective against a guy like Aldo. The good thing for Hominick in this fight is that Aldo will most likely want to stand with him, which is where Hominick is at his best. Anything can happen on the feet, especially when you’re dealing with a striker as technically sound as Hominick. Of course if Aldo decides to turn things into a grappling contest then it’s a whole different fight. Nobody was really pressed Aldo like Hominick is going to do. He’s going to be in Aldo’s face the entire fight, pumping his jab, putting together combinations, and also looking for the left hook to the body. Expect to see a lot of straight right hands from Hominick in this fight, not only as an offensive weapon but as a counter strike when Aldo throws leg kicks and moves in. If Hominick can catch Aldo clean or wear him out with his pace, he could definitely finish him with strikes. As long as the fight stays on the feet, Hominick has a chance to win this fight.
If you’re looking to build a MMA highlight reel, you might want to start with Aldo. He’s one of the most explosive and unpredictable fighters in the sport but he’s also very technically sound. Striking wise, he might not be as technical as Hominick, but he is more diverse. He’ll throw knees, uppercuts, body shots, kicks, ect…. He likes to use a jab-leg kick combo, he gets in and out quickly, and everything he throws is with bad intentions and heavy power. I don’t think anyone in the sport is better at timing than Aldo. If his opponent leaves a leg dangling for a split second, Aldo will chop it with a leg kick. If his opponent shoots in, Aldo will counter with a knee or uppercut. Fighters can’t afford to make mistakes against Aldo on the feet because he will always capitalize. One thing we’ve never seen out of Aldo is his offensive wrestling. His takedown defense is outstanding but usually when he ends up on top of a fighter, it’s because he’s hurt them. I’m not sure how good his shot is but in the clinch, he’s very strong and controlling. If he wanted to, I’m sure he could dominate Hominick in the clinch. As far as his ground game goes, it’s relatively unknown. His top game appears to be outstanding because he’s so good at controlling his opponents and damaging them. We’ve never seen him off his back though and I doubt this is the fight where we see what kind of guard he has. Aldo is coming off a neck injury that forced him out of his January fight so it’s fair to question just how healthy he is heading into this fight. I don’t think the injury will affect him too bad but you never know when it comes to neck injuries. Aldo is young though, so he should be more likely to shake something like this off at this point in his career. Aldo would be very smart to get this fight to the ground. While I’m sure that he can hold his own against Hominick standing, there is no reason to take that risk. Should Aldo decide to stand with Hominick though, I’m sure he’ll throw plenty of leg kicks since Hominick doesn’t like checking them. I also think we’ll see a lot of body and teep kicks from Aldo in order to keep Hominick at a distance and stop him from coming in aggressively. And when Hominick does move forward aggressively, expect Aldo to clinch and rough him up with knees. No one should be shocked if Aldo decides to take this fight to the ground. As much as he likes to strike and he’s known for his striking, he’s not a dumb fighter and I’m sure he knows that his ground game is superior to Hominick’s. Aldo can win this fight in a variety of ways. Even though Hominick does have a good chin, Aldo’s power is second to none and he could put him away with one strike or easily overwhelm him. If he does decide to take the fight to the ground though, he could submit Hominick with an arm triangle or rear naked choke. Aldo usually isn’t a decision fighter but since he’s fighting in Hominick’s hometown, maybe he’ll take sympathy on him like he did with Faber in Sacramento.
I’ve really warmed up to the idea of Hominick winning over the past couple of weeks but I just can’t go against Aldo until he shows me some type of weakness. If Aldo wants to strike with Hominick though, it’s definitely possible that Hominick catches him given his accuracy and power. That said, I have to go with Aldo. I think he’ll fight smart, work a lot in the clinch, and eventually get the fight to the ground where he’ll finally show off his jiu-jitsu and submit Hominick.
Prediction: Jose Aldo to defeat Mark Hominick by Submission in Round Two
Light Heavyweight Fight: Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture
Looking to snap a two fight losing streak, Lyoto Machida faces a man who has been wanting to face him for years now and a legend in the sport, Randy Couture, possibly competing in the last fight of his career.
Once thought to be unstoppable, Machida now finds his back against the wall thanks to back-to-back losses. He’s still an excellent striker. He stands southpaw, throws quick leg kicks, gets in and out better than almost anyone in the sport, and does a great job of knowing the distance. He has a very quick straight left hand and when he wants to, he follows it up with a good right hook. He likes to leap in with a knee to the body, which I think is his best strike, and he has a great left body kick followed by a straight left. His footwork and feints are tremendous and a lot of fighters don’t know how to react to his style. Against Quinton Jackson, Machida sort of allowed himself to be controlled in the clinch, which was a big reason as to why he lost. He wasn’t dominated in the clinch by any stretch of the imagination but Jackson did control him and land his best strikes of the fight on the clinch break. Machida actually proved to be very strong in the clinch as he put Jackson on his back in the third round but, at least for the first two rounds, he was content on just hanging out and playing a control game. He can’t be content in the clinch with Couture. He needs to find a way out or at least a way off the cage. Even though Machida has good balance, Jackson did put him on his back when he threw a knee in the clinch. Granted Machida was right back up but Couture is better at controlling guys on the ground. While we haven’t seen much of Machida on his back, he seems to have a solid guard and will even use a rubber guard if needed. If Machida can get on top of Couture, expect him to look to control rather than punish. He has good head control and uses a kimura threat to pass to better positions. Of course I doubt that Machida wants this fight on the ground, even if he is on top. His biggest advantage is on the feet. People will say father time hasn’t yet caught up to Couture, and maybe he hasn’t tackled Couture to the ground, but he’s definitely tagged Couture and yelled, “YOU’RE IT!” Lets not forget that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, a man never known for his punching power, dropped Couture twice and that Brandon Vera crumpled Couture with a body kick. Fact is, Couture is slowing down at his old age and he can’t quite take punishment like he used to. So as long as Machida can stay on the outside and pepper Couture with kicks and punches, he should win this fight. And even if he can’t finish Couture, as long as he can punish him with counter strikes and stay out of the clinch, he should win the decision.
Couture might be making his last stand on Saturday but you can bet that he’s looking to go out on top. He’s really improved his striking over the years, especially when it comes to his head movement. He loves to throw uppercuts although when he does so, he leaves himself open to counter right hooks. He also has an underrated jab and puts a good right hook behind it. The problem with Couture’s striking though is that he’s almost exclusively a boxer and it’s been proven over the years that Machida is almost impossible to hit on the chin. Of course no one should expect Couture to engage in a striking contest with Machida for very long. Where Couture excels is in the clinch with his dirty boxing. Machida had a lot of trouble with Jackson in the clinch and I think it’s fair to say that Couture’s clinch control is superior to Jackson’s. Couture is great at getting inside and then roughing up opponents with uppercuts, body shots, and knees. Machida has incredible balance so he won’t be easy to take down but Couture’s offensive wrestling in the clinch is arguably the best in the sport. If Couture can somehow get on top of Machida, that would be a huge feather in his cap. We’ve never seen Machida off his back and Couture is excellent at controlling guys on the ground, especially from the half guard position. Now if Machida can get on top of Couture, Couture would be in a world of trouble because Machida has a very good top game and Couture has never been comfortable on his back. People are really underestimating Couture in this fight because he’s already talking about retirement and he is 47 years old. Don’t be the person who does that. This is a fight that Couture has wanted for some time now, this is a fight that excites him, and you can never overlook Couture’s smarts when it comes to the fight game. He’s like that veteran NBA player who no longer has that explosive first step towards the hoop but he’s smart enough to use his body in order to get to the foul line. Couture has to get this fight to the clinch. He’s not going to be able to strike with Machida because Machida is too quick for him and an ankle pick takedown obviously won’t work on Machida either. But if Couture can put Machida against the cage, control him, and rough him up then it’s not inconceivable that Couture can win this fight. I don’t know how Couture finishes Machida, unless he can get him down and overwhelm him with strikes, but he could easily win a decision. Remember, judges like aggression and control. Couture will be the more aggressive and appear to be more in control thanks to Machida’s counter-striking style.
I never want to write off Couture because he is “Captain America” and he has a history of pulling off upsets but I think he’s just too old to compete with a top-level fighter, which is exactly what Machida is. Sooner or later, when Couture moves in to strike or clinch, Machida is going to catch him with a well-placed counter punch and that will be the end of Couture’s hall of fame career.
Prediction: Lyoto Machida to defeat Randy Couture via TKO in Round One
Light Heavyweight Fight: Jason Brilz vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Top wrestlers do battle in the light heavyweight division as veteran and former UFC title contender Vladimir Matyushenko takes on Jason Brilz, who is coming off a breakout performance at UFC 114.
Brilz was relatively unknown until last May when he nearly defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira when he was given very little chance. As a wrestler, Brilz’ striking leaves a lot of be desired. He throws wild haymakers and slow leg kicks. He seems to have decent power and a solid chin though. Brilz’ strength is his wrestling. He has a good single leg takedown although he does leave his neck exposed when he shoots. What impressed a lot of people in the Nogueira fight was Brilz’ submission wrestling. He showed good defense against the savvy jiu-jitsu black belt and he even caught Nogueira in a number of bad positions. I was also impressed with Brilz’ ability in the scrambles where he did a nice job ending up in dominant positions. People seem to be very high on Brilz following his performance against Nogueira, and while I understand why, lets not forget a few things. First, Nogueira turned in one of his worst performances of all time and likely suffered a mental letdown going from Forrest Griffin to Brilz. Second, Brilz is coming off an injury and hasn’t compete since last May. Finally, Brilz is 35 years old. It’s not like he’s a young prospect or a guy in his prime who finally took that step up in competition. Now granted he’s facing Matyushenko, who is 40 years old, but I still believe that people don’t realize how old Brilz is. Maybe he’s a late bloomer and I’m not giving him enough credit. I guess we’ll find out on Saturday. Brilz needs to get this fight to the ground and turn things into a wrestling match. Matyushenko is a good wrestler in his own right but he’s not very good off his back and I do like Brilz submission game on top. It’s possible that Brilz catches Matyushenko on the feet given his power but from a technical standpoint, Matyushenko is the better striker. Matyushenko has never been submitted but there is a first time for everything and Brilz does have good chokes. Even if he can’t finish Matyushenko, he can at least win a decision but out-grappling him.
For those that only know Matyushenko as the guy who Jon Jones destroyed with elbows, he’s a MMA veteran who has been competing since 1997 and is a former IFL Light Heavyweight Champion. He’s relatively well rounded. He’s a decent striker, nothing special, but stays within himself. He has a good jab and a solid right hand. Like Brilz, Matyushenko’strength is his wrestling. He’s strong in the clinch and uses his knees well, although that might get him in trouble against Brilz since it will allow Brilz to put Matyushenko on his back. Matyushenko has the talent to put Brilz on his back, and should he feel that he’s in trouble on the feet, he’ll likely go for the takedown. Matyushenko has a solid top game and has very underrated ground and pound. He does a nice job using elbows to rough up his opponents and to pass to better positions. I believe that Matyushenko will want to keep this fight standing as he is the more polished striker. He needs to throw straight punches and also go to the body of Brilz, to take away some of his already questionable conditioning. If he’s in trouble on the feet then he’ll look for the takedown. On the ground, I expect him to stay tight to Brilz and use elbows to the body. Matyushenko could overwhelm Brilz with strikes or win a decision by out-striking him and scoring timely takedowns.
I’m not expecting much out of this fight given the participants although I understand why it’s on PPV instead of Nate Diaz vs. Rory MacDonald (and for those wondering, the reason is that Brilz vs. Matyushenko could be boring and UFC/SpikeTV don’t want to put on a boring free fight. They want us to pay.) I feel like Matyushenko is a more experienced version of Brilz, which is why I favor him in this fight. I think Matyushenko will control the stand up and stuff the takedowns of Brilz en route to a decision.
Prediction: Vladimir Matyushenko to defeat Jason Brilz via Decision
Lightweight Fight: Mark Bocek vs. Ben Henderson
Former WEC Lightweight Champion Ben Henderson makes his UFC debut against the self-proclaimed best grappler in division, Mark Bocek.
If you don’t think Bocek is a great grappler, just follow him on twitter and he’ll let you know. To his credit, he backs up his talk for the most part. On the feet, Bocek is a decent striker. He has a good counter right hand but otherwise he uses his striking to set up his takedowns. Bocek’s wrestling is better than people give him credit for as he has a good single leg and is rather relentless in going for it. It’s very possible that he could takedown Henderson given Henderson’s aggression and less than stellar takedown defense. On the ground, Bocek is outstanding. He does a nice job on top using his striking to set up his passes and he’s a guy who follows the “position before submission” rule to a tee. He’s also very dangerous off his back and has an active guard, which he uses to set up submissions and sweeps. Something that worries me about Bocek though is his newfound ego. I have no problem if he believes that he’s the best grappler in the division but he hasn’t exactly beaten many top lightweights in the world. I’d just like to actually see him submit or at least control a top lightweight before he starts claiming that he can submit anyone in the division. Lets not forget that this is the same guy who got choked out by Mac Danzig (and on the flip side, this is the same guy who I thought beat Jim Miller). If he can submit Henderson, then I’ll take his “best grappler in the division” claim a bit more serious. Obviously Bocek wants this fight on the ground. Even though I think he’s a little too full of himself, at least he knows what he’s good at. He’s not going to go out there and try to strike with Henderson. He knows his strength is on the ground and he’s going to try and get the fight to the ground by any means. If he can get the fight to the ground and be on top of Henderson, I definitely think he can submit him. Henderson is prone to getting caught in submissions, and while he’s extremely flexible and has huge heart, anyone can get a limb ripped or pass out if a hold is done right. If he’s not able to submit Henderson though, he could win a decision by ending up in the better positions.
Henderson might be most famous for being on the receiving end of the “showtime kick” but before that kick, he was highly competitive against Anthony Pettis and the top lightweight in the WEC. Henderson is a solid striker who throws good body kicks, likes to double up his jab and follow with the straight right, and he has a very good counter right hook. He doesn’t react well to really be pressed on the feet though. Bocek doesn’t have the striking acumen that Pettis has but if he decides to press Henderson, he could force him to make a mistake. Henderson is a good wrestler but might be a tad overrated in that department. He’s strong in the clinch and does a nice job landing trip takedowns but his actual shot isn’t all that great. On the ground, Henderson is at his best when he stacks his opponents and uses his long reach to rain down punches. Now because he’s standing over his opponent in this position, it does leave himself open for up kicks but he has a solid chin and is able to take them. People rave about Henderson’s submission defense but I’m not sure it’s all that great. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is a survivor but when I think of great submission defense, I think of a guy like Jon Fitch, who is on the ground the majority of his fights and never gets stuck in a submission. Henderson gets stuck in submissions, he’s just incredibly flexible and has great heart so he doesn’t tap out. Bocek is going to test that flexibility and heart though. As for his own submission game, Henderson is underrated. He has very good chokes, especially his guillotine, which is his go to choke on the ground and in the clinch. Henderson is decent off his back but he definitely doesn’t want Bocek on top of him. One thing I love about Henderson is his pace. It’s a very controlled aggression for the most part but when he needs to, he can really turn it up and wear guys out. Now that he’s in a three round fight for the first time since April 2009, I think we’ll see a very aggressive Henderson who will push the pace and look to tire out Bocek. While Bocek has solid cardio, I’ll take Henderson’s over the majority of the lightweight division. I think Henderson will want to keep this fight on the feet for the most part because he is a better overall striker. His kicks might lead to easier takedowns for Bocek but I also think that Henderson welcomes the takedowns when he throws kicks because that’s how he can lock on his guillotine. I also think Henderson will want to fight a lot in the clinch because he’s strong in that position and has good knees. Plus, again, it’s a way for him to set up his takedown. Henderson has power in his hands and if he catches Bocek clean, he could finish him with one shot or overwhelm him with strikes on the ground. While Bocek is a good grappler, he’s not above being caught in a submission and if Henderson can lock on his guillotine, he could easily tap him out. Or Henderson could just win a decision by out working Bocek in all areas.
I’m really looking forward to this fight. Henderson is always exciting and Bocek has looked very good as of late and has a lot of talk to back up. I expect this to be a close fight but in the end, I feel like Henderson’s pace and striking will be enough to win him this fight. If it turns into a grappling contest though, it could really go either way.
Prediction: Ben Henderson to defeat Mark Bocek via Decision
*Nate Diaz to defeat Rory MacDonald via Decision
*Jake Ellenberger to defeat Sean Pierson via TKO in Round One
*Daniel Roberts to defeat Claude Patrick via Submission in Round Two
*Ivan Menjivar to defeat Charlie Valencia via Decision
*Jason MacDonald to defeat Ryan Jensen via Submission in Round One
*John Makdessi to defeat Kyle Watson via Decision
*Yves Jabouin to defeat Pablo Garza via Decision
Remember folks that UFC 129 starts at 9PM EST this Saturday and if you can’t watch the PPV event, make sure to check out 5OZofPain for live coverage.