This is a busy time of year for the UFC as they’re hosting events seemingly every week. UFC 164 features the long awaited rematch between Anthony Pettis and Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson three years after their first fight ended with the famous “Showtime Kick.” The card also features several interesting featherweight fights and a few scraps from the big boys at heavyweight. To the action.
Featherweight: Erik Koch (13-2) vs. Dustin Poirier (13-3)
Interesting featherweight fight between Koch and Poirier. Both are coming off losses to higher ranked featherweights (Ricardo Lamas and Cub Swanson respectively) and need a win to vault them back into the title picture. Poirier has 11 wins by TKO/KO or submission, while Koch has 10. This is really a toss up fight here, I’ll go with Poirier, but I doubt the fight goes to the judges.
The Pick: Poirier
Heavyweight: Ben Rothwell (32-9) vs. Brandon Vera (12-6)
Another fight with both fighters coming off losses. The heavyweight division is thin, but neither fighter is close to title contention. Vera has bounced around the sport after being hyped up when he started. Rothwell is unspectacular, but always game for a fight. According to the UFC, both men have a TKO/KO percentage around 58%. Rothwell has an advantage in the submission category with 31% of his wins coming on the ground. I’ll take Rothwell, a natural heavyweight to win, probably by taking the fight to the ground.
The Pick: Rothwell
Featherweight: Chad Mendes (14-1) vs. Clay Guida (30-10)
The other featherweight fight on the main card promises to be barn burner. Mendes is a top contender for the title, having won three in a row (all by TKO/KO) since being knocked out by champion Jose Aldo. Mendes has really found his power ever since Duane Ludwig started coaching Team Alpha Male, which brings us to Guida. His chin is great, and he’s never been knocked out. Guida has a reputation for constant movement and a smothering wrestling style (ask Anthony Pettis). Guida has looked more conservative in recent fights and I fully expect him to try and smother Mendes. It’ll be a decision, but Mendes will pull this one out and put himself on the short list for a rematch with Aldo.
The Pick: Mendes
Heavyweight: Frank Mir (16-7) vs. Josh Barnett (32-6)
This will be a fun fight. Mir and Barnett are both former champions that have great ground games (both at 56% submission rate). Mir has an aura of smugness about him, while Barnett has always marched to his own drum. Naturally, this has led both men to be at odds with each other while promising to take the fight to the ground. I hope it does go there, as both men are extremely dangerous working with submissions. Both looked dreadful against Daniel Cormier so they have something to prove. I think Barnett has more gas left, but don’t be surprised if Mir grabs a limb and ends it.
The Pick: Barnett
UFC Lightweight Title: Anthony Pettis (16-2) vs. Benson Henderson (18-2)
The much anticipated lightweight title fight between Pettis and Henderson rounds out the card and this has the makings of “Fight Of The Night” written all over it. Pettis is the last man to defeat Henderson (in the now defunct WEC) while debuting his flashy “Showtime Kick” en route to taking a decision. Since then, Henderson has won seven fights in a row (all by decision) to claim the top spot in the UFC Lightweight division. Rightfully, the striking of Pettis is the X Factor here, and Henderson can get tagged here and there. Neither man has been knocked out and I don’t see that changing here. I’ll give Henderson a slight edge.
The Pick: Henderson
2013 Record: 10-3
UFC 164: Pettis vs. Henderson II takes place Saturday, August 31st and is available on pay-per-view.