By Jaime C. Feal
Although last weekend’s incredible show on FOX felt like a pay-per-view, it was in fact free, which presents an interesting dilemma for the UFC going forward: How do they ensure UFC 150 delivers good value to the fans when the last PPV, UFC 149, was an abysmal failure? Two pay per views in a row that fail to deliver could really alienate the casual fans gained from the stellar FOX presentation. The good news is this time there’s a legitimate title fight, not an interim title fight, headlining the show. To think former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and current king Benson Henderson would deliver anything other than fireworks is difficult to fathom. Where the card gets murkier is at the bottom.
Middleweight Division (185 lbs.):
Jake Shields (27-6-1, 2-2 UFC) vs. Ed “Short Fuse” Herman (20-8, 7-5 UFC)
American Jiu-Jitsu combined with solid wrestling makes Jake Shields a difficult opponent for anyone. Shields squares off with Ed Herman, who is currently riding a three fight winning streak in the UFC. Herman is a grinder with solid jiu-jitsu, wrestling, striking, and cardio. He does not excel at one particular area, but he has heart, grit, and determination.
Shields’ blueprint for success will be on the ground, where the disparity in skill between the fighters is greatest. Shields trains with the Diaz brothers under Cesar Gracie and is a high-level black belt in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His wrestling is not too shabby either, as he was able to take down former Olympic Greco-Roman gold medalist Dan Henderson at will, then repeatedly pass into full mount. Herman needs to dirty box in the clinch, and throw his nasty uppercuts. Shields doesn’t want this to turn into a striking match, and he appears to have enough wrestling to get the fight to the mat where he is most comfortable. Should his cardio hold up, Shields rides out a decision victory using takedowns and top control.
Prediction: Jake Shields wins by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Division (155 lbs.):
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (18-4, 5-1 UFC) vs. Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard 30-10-2, 11-6 UFC)
Donald Cerrone looked like a lightweight title contender until he ran into Nate Diaz. Cerrone was 5-0 in the UFC and always showed serious promise in the WEC lightweight division. Whether Donald Cerrone was exposed in his fight a gainst Diaz, or it was simply a bad night against an extremely difficult opponent, is a question that’s about to be answered in this fight.
Vegas has Cerrone as a 3:1 favorite, and Melvin Guillard really only has a puncher’s chance in the fight. Guillard has notoriously weak submission defense, recently being tapped out by Joe Lauzon. On the feet, Melvin is as dangerous and explosive as they come. However, Guillard’s weak ground game combined with his even weaker mental approach make him an easy target for someone like Cerrone. Expect “Cowboy” to use measured kickboxing on the feet before setting up a takedown that leads to a submission victory.
Prediction: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone wins by Submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2.
UFC Lightweight Championship Bout (155 lbs.):
Ben “Smooth” Henderson (16-2, 4-0 UFC) vs. Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (14-2-1, 9-2-1 UFC)
The rematch from their title fight five months ago that went the distance, this fight figures to be just as good. Frankie Edgar, the former champ, wants his belt back badly, but he’ll have to go through the confident Ben Henderson to do it. In the first fight an upkick from Henderson changed the momentum of the fight completely; otherwise Edgar probably would have won a decision.
Many were calling for Nate Diaz to get a title shot after his impressive victories over Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone. The fact that Edgar earned the immediate rematch is somewhat controversial. In fact, Dana White has already said there will be no immediate rematch this time even if Ben Henderson loses the belt. Benson has stated he is not bothered by that, so Nate Diaz essentially gets the winner of this title fight.
This time around, Henderson will use his size advantage more appropriately. Edgar is a tremendous wrestler, but he is undersized for the lightweight division, and Henderson is a massive 155er. This will be more evident Saturday night, as Henderson thwarts Edgar’s takedown attempts to keep the fight standing.
In a standup fight, I like Ben Henderson with his size, athleticism, and tae-kwon-do background. Edgar has extremely crisp boxing, good footwork, and speed, but he is a one-trick pony on the feet: essentially he fights to score points. Henderson has more power and could hurt Edgar standing, as Gray Maynard did, or just land the more meaningful shots. This fight will be a back-and-forth war, and while Edgar will no doubt have his moments, the champion Ben Henderson will retain the belt.
Prediction: Ben “Smooth” Henderson wins by unanimous decision.
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