UFC 164 kicks off tomorrow night in Milwaukee, and it’s going to be a great event from top to bottom. Headlining the card is a lightweight championship between Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis. This should be a fantastic rematch, and both fighters have grown tremendously since their first bout in the WEC. Let’s now take a look at the rest of the card and make some predictions.
Featherweight: Dustin Poirier vs. Erik Koch: Both of these fighters have exceptional striking skills, so it has the potential to stay on the feet and end violently. Poirier is the superior fighter when it comes to submissions, and his wrestling may be slightly better. Poirier will hang with Koch on the feet, and then will shoot in for a takedown. From there, he will work his great Jiu Jitsu game, locking up a submission late in the fight.
Final Prediction: Dustin Poirier wins via submission (da’arce choke) in the second round.
Heavyweight: Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera: Each of these fighters is trying to get their career back on track, and it’s a very important bout for both. Vera has the better striking and this will benefit him greatly. Rothwell has power and is the better wrestler, but he will not be the faster fighter. Vera will defend the takedowns and be pressed up the cage, but he will make room and circle away. Once Rothwell is tired, Vera will turn it up, landing kicks and punches from different angles.
Final Prediction: Brandon Vera wins via unanimous decision.
Featherweight: Clay Guida vs. Chad Mendes: Mendes has looked unstoppable since losing to Jose Aldo, and his striking has certainly come a long way thanks to training with Duane Ludwig. Guida is a gamer and he always pushes the pace, but he is simply outmatched in every area. Mendes is the better wrestler and striker, so he can take this fight wherever he wants. It seems like he would continue his standup trend, so expect an early knockout that seals his fate as being the next man to challenge for the belt.
Final Prediction: Chad Mendes wins via TKO in the first round.
Heavyweight: Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett: Both of these fighters finally will lock up with each other, and it’s going to be an interesting ground battle. Barnett is the better wrestler in this bout, and he is very dominate once on top. However, will Barnett be able to avoid the dominant submission game of Mir, which is one of the best? The answer is yes. Quite simply, Barnett is the more consistent fighter at this point in their careers.
He may not win a UFC title, but he still has skills to defeat game opponents, such as Mir. Barnett will keep the fight standing for a bit, landing good shots and kicks to get Mir’s attention. Then, when the opportunity presents itself, he will shoot in and control Mir on the ground. It should be a fun, technical bout that resurrects the winner’s career.
Final Prediction: Josh Barnett wins via unanimous decision.
Lightweight Championship: Ben Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis: Many fans and media have been waiting to see this fight ever since their first meeting in the WEC. Since their first bout, which Pettis won, both fighters have taken different paths in the UFC. Henderson is now the lightweight champion, and he has looked really dominant as of late.
So has Pettis; his wins over Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon show the type of creativity and explosiveness he has when the fight is standing. However, Pettis always has had a chink in his amour: his wrestling. This was clear in his bouts with Jeremy Stephens and Clay Guida. Henderson is a better wrestler than Guida and Stephens, which will be the deciding factor in this excellent championship bout. It’s going to be a close bout. Pettis is going to have his moments on the feet, but Henderson will avoid damage and look to clinch. He will press Pettis up against the cage and will get takedowns. Once on the ground, Henderson will avoid any submissions and will win the ground exchanges.
Final Prediction: Ben Henderson wins via split decision.