One of the all-time greats does battle in the main event at UFC Fight Night. Dan Henderson has lost five of his last six fights, yet keeps on fighting at age 44. Can he land one more big right hand and score a win? Will Tim Boetsch be the man to end Hendo’s career? Let’s break down UFC Fight Night: Boetsch vs. Henderson.
Tim Boetsch ($10400) vs Dan Henderson ($9000)
Picking this fight is fairly simple. Do you think Dan Henderson will land one of his patented “H-Bombs” on Tim Boetsch’s chin? If the answer is yes, pick Hendo and reap the rewards of 100+ points at the low cost of $9000. If not, you can take Boetsch, who will likely outwork Henderson, but is he able to finish him? Henderson’s chin is not what it used to be, and over the course of five rounds Boetsch could land one that puts Hendo to sleep. Perhaps I’m looking through rose-colored glasses, but I think Hendo has one more left in him.
Pick: Henderson by KO/TKO
Matt Mitrione ($10500) vs Ben Rothwell ($9000)
For those of you that don’t like ground work in MMA, this should be another slugfest that is sure to be exciting — and end up with someone KO’d on the canvas. Mitrione draws raves for his quickness and power, and rightfully so. But he is also very hittable. He does have a solid chin, but Rothwell is going to take him past the first round, where Mitrione usually finishes his opponents. So I think we are looking at a battle of attrition. Rothwell has an insane chin, and finally made a commitment to take his fitness seriously. He’ll be able to survive a Mitrione flurry and answer with his own. That’s when the lights go off for Mitrione.
Pick: Rothwell by KO/TKO
Dustin Poirier ($10400) vs Yancy Medeiros ($9000)
Medeiros has had a nice run of late with back-to-back wins, but Poirier is a considerable step up in talent and experience. Medeiros’ two consecutive wins have been over bottom of the division guys. Poirier announced his return to the lightweight division with a bang, laying out Carlos Diego Ferreira in the first round in April. He’s got speed, legit knockout power and he’ll be fighting in front of his home fans in Louisiana. Poirier will end this early, so look for about 120 points from him.
Pick: Poirier by KO/TKO
Thiago Tavares ($10700) vs Brian Ortega ($8700)
Speaking of a step up in competition, Brian Ortega gets his second fight in the Octagon after his debut against Mike de la Torre was ruled a no-contest. He barreled through de la Torre in a little over 90 seconds, taking him down and choking him out, but a failed drug test got that decision overturned. He won’t be doing that against Tavares, a heady veteran who has been in the UFC for over eight years. Ortega has a killer ground game, but so does Tavares, who also has a solid if unspectacular striking game. Tavares will outwork and outstrike Ortega, taking this one by decision.
Pick: Tavares by decision
Joe Soto ($10200) vs Anthony Birchak ($9200)
Soto accomplished a rare feat when he made his debut last August. He walked right into a championship fight as an injury replacement. He put up a good fight until T.J. Dillashaw finished him in round three. Expect a different Soto this time, as he’ll have a full camp behind him and he’s fighting someone not named Dillashaw — Anthony Birchak, who lasted just more than a minute in his UFC debut. Birchak may have more size and skill, but Soto is a veteran that fights very smart. He’ll use his outstanding wrestling to win rounds and get the win.
Pick: Soto by decision
Alex Caceres ($9800) vs Francisco Rivera ($9600)
Statistically, these two fighters are almost carbon copies. They both throw strikes at a high volume and both rarely look to take the fight to the ground. Which is too bad for Rivera, since Caceres isn’t proficient in his takedown defense. Caceres is somewhat awkward to fight. His reach and sometimes unconventional striking style can make life difficult. But Rivera has heavy, heavy hands and at some point he’s going to crack Caceres and end the fight.
Pick: Rivera by KO/TKO
Derrick Lewis ($9700) vs Shawn Jordan ($9700)
This is the fight I’m most excited for on this card. I’ve been absolutely enthralled watching Derrick Lewis absolutely crush people, and Jordan always puts on exciting bouts. Jordan is quick for a heavyweight in closing the distance and landing strikes, while Lewis is more of the stalking, throw bombs fighter. Jordan has had his way with some of the lesser UFC heavyweights, but Lewis has a knack for finding holes and then hitting them with extreme power. Lewis gets better each time out, and I think he will knockout Jordan in the first round.
Pick: Lewis by KO/TKO
Brian Ebersole ($9300) vs Omari Akhmedov ($10100)
It’s mind-boggling that Ebersole will be doing battle in his 70th pro fight, especially since he is only 34 years old. Akhmedov makes his 4th appearance in the Octagon, and he is an excellent wrestler. Which is odd when you consider he stops takedowns at a clip of just 12%. Ebersole is more of a striker than a grappler, but you don’t get to 70 pro fights without being well-rounded. He doesn’t score too many takedowns, but he converts them at over 60%. Add to that his solid, technical striking, and we have a small upset.
Pick: Ebersole by decision
Chris Wade ($10200) vs Christos Giagos ($9200)
This one is likely closer than the salaries would suggest, but I still think Wade has a better ground game, specifically his wrestling and ability to score takedowns. I see him getting to top position and doing damage to Giagos. He won’t be able to finish Giagos, but he’ll steal rounds with takedowns and win by decision. I’ll be staying away from this one, but I like Wade to get the W.
Pick: Wade by decision
Justin Edwards ($9100) vs Joe Proctor ($10300)
Edwards has lost 4 of 6 in the UFC, and he’ll serve as gatekeeper to Joe Proctor in this bout. I don’t know that anyone — including Proctor — knows exactly how good he can be, but I believe we have yet to see the best Joe Proctor. I think we will see that Saturday night. But even if we don’t, I think Proctor’s pressure and power will overwhelm Edwards.
Pick: Proctor by KO/TKO
Ricardo Abreu ($10500) vs Jake Collier ($8900)
Abreu is a whirlwind, a BJJ black belt that gets after his opponents right away. He won his UFC debut over Wagner Silva Gomes with a second-round submission, and before that had four first round finishes. He ain’t playing. Collier was having his way some with Vitor Miranda in his UFC debut, but got knocked out by a kick late in the first round. Abreu has a sick sub game to accompany his prodigious power, and he’ll run through Collier. It could be a sub or a KO, but either way he’ll finish and do it quickly.
Pick: Abreu by KO/TKO
Leonardo Morales ($10600) vs Jose Quinonez ($8800)
Unless you were a big fan of TUF: Latin America, chances are neither of these names ring a bell. Morales showed an impressive display of striking against Yair Rodriguez at UFC 180, a fight that he ended up losing. But he showed an ability to get inside, clinch and score, and he also landed some fierce kicks to the body. He looked to have good power in his left hand. He did spend a lot of time on his back fighting off subs, and Quinonez is a solid wrestler. But I think Morales will be much too much for Quinonez, and he’ll knock him out in short order.
Pick: Morales by KO/TKO