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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Saturday's UFC 150 event brings yet another rematch for the UFC Lightweight Championship, as Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar will square off for the second time this year, six months after battling for five rounds at UFC 144. The card has seemingly flown under the radar, and despite a very good first bout, fans don't necessarily seem quite as excited for the rematch. Still, the main card is a really good one, with several interesting fights supporting the main event. With that said, here's what's coming in Denver, Colo. this weekend:
Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar (Lightweight Championship)
There has been a lot of discussion about rematches into this fight, and how things have played out for both Henderson and Edgar when they've had to face a fighter more than once. In each of their cases, they've improved upon the results of their first fights, convincingly defeating their opponents the second (or third) time around.
That makes this a very interesting fight, because if anyone has shown an ability to go back to the drawing board and come back stronger, it's Frankie Edgar. But Henderson as well has shown a penchant for improvement, and since losing to Anthony Pettis he's been on an absolute tear.
Henderson's height and reach advantage played into their first fight, and Edgar leaves himself open to getting hit. However, he's also nigh impossible to finish in a fight. If that's going to happen, it's going to take an incredible performance from Henderson, utilizing his entire skill-set, and I think he's more likely to snatch a submission than to pick up a knockout win.
As for Edgar, he's got an even tougher task ahead of him. Henderson's insane flexibility allows him to escape most positions, and his chin keeps him going even in the rare times that he gets cracked by shots. If this is fight is much different from the first, I think it's going to be Henderson surprising Edgar with an even more one-sided fight. It's going to be a good one regardless of how it plays out, but I think Henderson prevails once again.
PREDICTION: Henderson via unanimous decision
Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard (Lightweight)
The easy stat to look at here is in the submission game. Of Cerrone's 18 career wins, 13 have come by way of submission. Of the ten losses Guillard has had in his career, nine of them have come by way of submission. There is a clear advantage for Cerrone on the ground, but it's an area Guillard has been focusing on recently, and he showed some definite improvement in his UFC 148 bout with Fabricio Camoes.
Another factor heading into this fight is the fact that both fighters are friends and former training partners. They know a lot about each other, and about the dangers each of them present, and that may make it difficult to implement their game plans.
Of course, knowing what's coming and being able to stop it are two different things. Cerrone got himself out-struck and out-fought by Nate Diaz last December, and though Guillard's got the power to hurt him, he's not going to be breaking Cerrone apart with a technical attack. If the fight winds up as a striking battle, Cerrone's got the skills to hang with Guillard, but he'll be looking to take the fight to the ground in this one.
Though Guillard has made improvements in his takedown defense and his ground defense as well, Cerrone may be the overall more well rounded fighter here. Guillard may stay standing for awhile, but I think it may be only a matter of time in this one.
PREDICTION: Cerrone via submission in the third round
Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman (Middleweight)
Shields returns to the middleweight division, where he had considerable success in Strikeforce, ending with a win over Dan Henderson. However, he's already admitted he may have some issues with the air in Colorado, and doesn't expect to be 100% prepared for that aspect of the fight by Saturday night.
Herman has been on an absolute roll since returning from a two year layoff. He's stopped three straight opponents, though none has been near Shields' level. He's got a striking advantage against Shields, but then again so do most of Shields' opponents. That's never been his major focus in the fight game, because his talents on the ground have been a supreme advantage against most.
However, Herman's ground game is fairly formidable as well, though he's faltered against superior grapplers in the past as well. Shields needs to get the fight to the ground, and he needs to prove his superiority there for three rounds. He'll likely do just that, and though he may not get a stoppage, it should prove to be a successful return to 185 lbs.
PREDICTION: Shields via decision
Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts (Middleweight)
Roberts is a 12-2 fighter taking his second fight in the UFC, and he's got nothing to lose with the short notice of this one. Taking on a former title challenger and a man still very much a dangerous opponent, Roberts could be going for broke on the upset attempt.
Okami's in desperate need of a win, though, and while Roberts possesses some good skills and can win fights a number of ways, he's never faced anyone like Okami. Were it not for the heavy hands of Tim Boetsch pulling off an incredible comeback, Okami wouldn't be in this position, and Roberts isn't the fighter to keep him on the skids.
This is Okami's fight all day, every day, and though Roberts could surprise and pull off something in this one, that's not a very likely outcome. Okami is too good in too many areas, and Roberts isn't on the level of the fighters that have been able to defeat him as of late.
PREDICTION: Okami via TKO in the second round
Justin Lawrence vs. Max Holloway (Featherweight)
Lawrence was one of the favorites on The Ultimate Fighter's live season this spring, and made it to the semifinals before his cardio failed him. He lost to show-winner Michael Chiesa by TKO in a "sudden victory" third round, but bounced on the Finale with a double-bonus-winning head kick KO over John Cofer.
Holloway needed a second fight to make his impression in the UFC. He took a bout with Dustin Poirier on short notice in February, losing by mounted triangle in the first round, but he bounced back with a very impressive display against Pat Schilling on that Ultimate Fighter Finale event in June.
Holloway's deficiencies are in the ground game, and though Lawrence might have an edge there he may be just as willing to stand with Holloway throughout. The reach and height advantage for Holloway could be the deciding factor, and I think he'll be able to keep Lawrence at bay enough throughout the fight.
PREDICTION: Holloway via decision
=====Preliminary Card Quick Picks=====
-- Dennis Bermudez over Tommy Hayden via decision
-- Michael Kuiper over Jared Hamman via TKO in the second round
-- Erik Perez over Ken Stone via decision
-- Chico Camus over Dustin Pague via decision
-- Nik Lentz over Eiji Mitsuoka via decision
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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