And here we have the second part of a UFC double-header, as former UFC Lightweight Champion, Benson Henderson’s tussle with the top-ranked Rafael dos Anjos takes top billing for the evening’s entertainment. The rest of the card is as solid as it comes for a modern day Fight Night card and offers plenty of face-punching action for us all to get worked up about.
So, on with the preview.
(#1) Benson Henderson vs. (#5) Rafael dos Anjos – 155lbs.
Henderson looked back to his dominant best in dispatching with Rustam Khabilov last time out back in June, but he’ll have his hands full with dos Anjos who has only lost the once since 2010 and that was to surging contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, with dos Anjos’ last performance a TKO victory over Jason High.
Dos Anjos will make this a fight and threaten at times with his potent mix of muay thai and jiu-jitsu, but Henderson is just too good. Henderson is able to mix striking with effective grappling effortlessly and will hold a strength and athleticism advantage over near enough every lightweight going. It might not be pretty, but Henderson takes it.
Prediction – Henderson via decision
(#13) Mike Pyle vs. Jordan Mein – 170lbs.
Despite the 14 year age gap, the 24 year old Mein will enter this fight the more experienced man, having racked up one more fight in 8 year MMA career than in the 38 year old Pyle’s 15 year stretch. Both men rebounded from defeats in their last bouts, with Pyle besting T.J. Waldburger and Mein taking home the split decision victory over Hernani Perpetuo. Mein will hold a striking advantage, but I can’t see how this will help when he will spend most of the fight on his back due to Pyle’s superior grappling.
Prediction – Pyle via decision
(#12) Francis Carmont vs. (#15) Thales Leites – 185lbs.
Carmont had been building up a head of steam with a six-fight win streak in the UFC’s middleweight division, but back-to-back losses to Jacaré Souza and C.B. Dolloway have put paid to any immediate aspirations of title contendership. Leites, on the other hand, is currently riding a six-fight win streak of his own, with three victories inside the Octagon since his return to the promotion. Both men are likely to want to get this one to the ground as quickly as possible, with Leites looking to work his BJJ and Carmont looking to blanket Leites for as long as he can, which is the more likely outcome.
Prediction – Carmont via decision
Max Holloway vs. Clay Collard – 149lbs. (Catchweight)
While Max Holoway is still a young pup in this game at just 22 years old, early displays have indicated that while he is talented, there may be a ceiling to his game as losses to Dustin Poirier, Dennis Bermudez and Conor McGregor have shown. Collard will be making his UFC debut here, having stepped up on less than a weeks notice to replace the injured Mirsad Bektic. Collard would have stood a better chance on more notice, but with that being a factor, I see Holloway keping him at range and picking Collard apart.
Prediction – Holloway via KO/TKO
James Vick vs. Valmir Lazaro – 155lbs.
A losing semi-finalist on TUF 15, the professionally undefeated James Vick will be entering the Octagon for the first time in a little over a year when he takes on Lazaro. Vick will hold a grappling advantage over his opponent, Lazaro is just plain violence and I can’t see this one lasting long once Lazaro strikes.
Prediction – Lazaro via KO/TKO
Chas Skelly vs. Tom Niinimäki – 145lbs.
Both men come in to this battle on the back of a loss in their last fight and both will be eager to get this to the ground. Skelly carries a wrestling advantage, but in terms of submission grappling, which is where I think this one will be decided, I’d give the slight edge to Niinimäki.
Prediction – Niinimäki via submission