Benson (Smooth) Henderson vs. Frankie (The Answer) Edgar
Lightweight Title Fight
I believe the first fight between Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar is the fight of the year up to this point, and this bout most definitely has all the potential to surpass the first.
Henderson and Edgar were engaged in an extremely close back-and-forth battle for the majority of the first two rounds of their UFC 144 main event, the with roughly ten seconds left in the second round, Henderson threw a brutal up kick that landed flush with “The Answer’s” face.
The blow ended up breaking the then champion’s nose, but even worse, it made him look like he was being dominated in a fight that was razor thin at that point.
After the up kick, both fighters had their moments, but after seeing a fired-up Henderson pumping up the crowd across the cage from an Edgar that looked beaten and battered heading into the final round, you knew whom the judges were going to side with “Smooth.”
Now with the rematch set for this weekend, all that remains to be seen is if Henderson can find a way to shut down Frankie for a second time.
Personally, I’ve seen Edgar improve too much in rematches over the last couple of years to pick against him here.
He took a close decision win over BJ Penn at UFC 112 and turned it into a five-round clinic when he fought “The Prodigy” the second time, and the result was even better for Edgar at UFC 136 when he finished Gray Maynard in their trilogy fight after being down 0-1-1 in the series.
Decision: Frankie Edgar to win
Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard
If Melvin Guillard can someday harness his skills and reach his full potential as a fighter, there’s no telling how far he could go in the lightweight division.
I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, as he has proven this during his UFC career with an unpredictable Melvin arriving in the Octagon a times.
Guillard has more natural ability than almost anyone in the division and the UFC for that matter, but his tendency to make mental mistakes has cost him time and time again when he finds himself across the cage from a high-level opponent.
And Donald Cerrone is one of the best fighters that Guillard has ever fought.
Whether it’s on the feet or the mat, Cerrone will have the ability to finish the fight in all areas, and this will be his key to defeating Guillard.
After watching Cerrone completely destroy Jeremy Stephens on the feet in their fight at UFC on Fuel 3, I have little doubt that he could do the same to Guillard in the stand-up game, and that’s where “The Young Assassin” is strongest.
Both fighters usually look to come out aggressive, but this time I suspect Cerrone will just look to weather the early storm and wait for Guillard to make a mistake.
When that happens (and it will), look for “Cowboy” to pounce on the neck of “The Young Assassin,” sending Guillard home with his seventh UFC loss by tapout.
Decision: Donald Cerrone to win (Submission)
Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman
After a mediocre 2-2 run in the UFC’s welterweight division, Jake Shields is moving back to the division that made him a star when he fought under the Strikeforce banner with a lengthy unbeaten track record.
Shields not only was considered one of the best fighters in the world when he last fought at 185 lbs., but he also earned a decision victory over current light heavyweight No. 1 contender Dan Henderson in his final fight at that weight.
That’s what we call a resume builder.
While Shields is obviously the favorite heading into this bout, resurrecting his career won’t be easy, as Ed Herman has found himself in the middle of his own career resurgence over the last year.
Back-to-back quick stoppage wins over Tim Creduer and Kyle Noke put “Short Fuse” back on the map, and a second-round submission victory over Clifford Starks pushed Herman into a high-profile bout for the first time in years.
I have a feeling Herman is going to be a very game opponent for Shields in this fight and take it to him on the night.
Decision: Ed Herman to win (Fight to go over the 1.5 or 2.5 rounds pick)
Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts
Now it seems that Okami is in a lose-lose situation, fighting an opponent that he is heavily favored against.
But despite his underdog status, Roberts has a chance to make things interesting against Okami.
The Greg Jackson-based fighter (Roberts) has earned himself a respectable 12-2 record so far in his MMA career, and his three-round domination of Caio Magalhaes showed a lot of people that he is more than ready to fight UFC level competition.
While Roberts has an outside chance at pulling off an upset, Okami is the smart pick here.
Okami should be able to dominate wherever the fight goes and will eventually find a way to finish a tough and scrappy Roberts.
Decision: Okami to win
Justin Lawrence vs. Max Holloway
The PPV main card kicks off with an incredibly exciting fight in the featherweight division.
Both Justin Lawrence and Max Holloway looked awesome in their Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale opponents in John Cofer and Pat Schilling, but now they must prove that they are ready for a step up in the 145-lb division.
Lawrence was an early favorite to win the TUF 15 lightweight crown, but a loss to eventual winner Michael Cheisa put that dream on hold, and now Lawrence is going to have to work his way towards title contention without the prestigious title on his resume.
Losing on the show won’t be too much of an issue if Lawrence can get past Holloway though.
The featherweight prospect looked like he was going to give Dustin Poirier some serious problems on the feet before he was taken down and tapped out by a triangle armbar just minutes into their UFC 143 bout. Lucky for him, Lawrence isn’t going to have any interest in taking things to the mat.
A battle between two young strikers is always a lot of fun, and this one could very well be the dark-horse contender for Fight of the Night honors by the end of the night.
Decision: Lawrence to win