UFC 150 Fight Card: BR MMA Staff Predictions for the Main Card
UFC 150 sounded like a pretty good time for the Caged In staff here at Bleacher Report to start doing predictions for UFC pay-per-view events. So that's exactly what we're doing.
In the following pages, Jonathan Snowden, Matt Roth, Duane Finley, Scott Harris, John Heinis and I will take you through each of the five main-card fights from this Saturday's big lightweight title-headlined event from Denver. We'll tell you who's going to win each fight, and we might even tell you why.
Ideally, you should be just a little bit smarter after reading this. But we're not promising anything.
Let's get started, shall we?
Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar (UFC Lightweight Title)
Jeremy Botter: I'm one of those folks who thought the first fight between Henderson and Edgar wasn't even all that close; I thought Henderson took the bout, and easily. So you can imagine my prediction here. Henderson isn't just a much bigger fighter than Edgar—he's simply a better all-around fighter. He'll nullify Edgar's speed by using his size. Henderson by unanimous decision
Jonathan Snowden: I don't see a single reason to pick anyone but Henderson in this fight. As spirited as Edgar is, he's undersized and outgunned here. Maybe this will be the final straw that forces him to drop to 145 pounds? More than anything else heading into 2013, I'd love to see Edgar and Rashad Evans, two small wrestlers with big hearts, fighting in their appropriate weight classes. Henderson by decision
Matt Roth: I'm picking purely with my heart here. I'm a New Jersey native and will always pick Frankie Edgar, no matter what. He's proven that he can beat the best that lightweight has to offer in the past and I believe he can do it again. His wrestling and boxing are outstanding, which should be the difference-maker. Edgar via decision
Duane Finley: The first matchup between these two was about as even as they come. Edgar was able to put Henderson on his back throughout the fight, while "Smooth" was able to score in the exchanges. I normally wouldn't see a second tangle going much different, but over past two years, Edgar has been able to add a new wrinkle when it comes to immediate rematches. Add this in with me picking against him in every rematch and I'll say I've learned my lesson. I see Edgar solving the puzzle of Henderson and reclaiming the title. Edgar via unanimous decision
Scott Harris: I love me some Frankie. But the size and athleticism gaps will again prove a bridge too far for the former champ. The masses calling for Edgar's drop to featherweight will morph from loosely organized militia to unruly mob after Saturday night. Henderson by unanimous decision
John Heinis: I may end up looking stupid again, but I think Edgar wins this rematch. He looked way better in his rematches with BJ Penn and Gray Maynard than he did in the first respective encounters, so I see that trend continuing here. Also, I truly believe Edgar would've won the first fight if he didn't get hit with that crushing upkick. I don't think that happens again. Edgar by unanimous decision
Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard
Snowden: What an awesome fight. If this is anything but a show-stealing barn-burner, I'll eat my hat. And since I don't own a hat, I'm counting on these guys to come through. Guillard by KO
Roth: This is a tough fight to pick as Melvin has been extremely inconsistent in his UFC career. Sometimes he comes out looking incredible, while other times he makes mental errors. I think we'll see the incredible Melvin, and he should be able to win a hard-earned decision. Guillard by decision
Finley: On paper this fight looks like it should blow the roof off Pepsi Arena. Both men bring the noise and have tremendous killer instincts when the opposition is in trouble. Guillard is a monster when he faces an opponent willing to come forward, and that's the direction Cerrone typically moves.On the flip side, Guillard is known to fight cautious when he's fighting someone with solid ground skills, and this is where Cerrone could possibly shine in this fight. I think Cerrone will take some early damage but eventually get the fight to the ground where he finishes it. Cerrone via submission, Round 2
Harris: Pro athletes tend to attack weak points until you stop them from doing so. So it goes for Melvin Guillard. Until he proves he can defend the choke, it's hard to predict any other outcome. Cerrone by submission, Round 2
Heinis: Donald Cerrone is coming off a definitive win over Jeremy Stephens in May and is already calling for a title eliminator with former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Of course, let's not forget he has to fight former teammate Melvin Guillard here. Guillard is coming off a lackluster win over jiu-jitsu specialist Fabirico Camoes at UFC 148, but he still has some of the fastest and heaviest hands in the division. Still, like a lot of "The Young Assassin's" fights, this thing is over once he hits the ground with a far superior grappler. Also, Guillard is fighting twice in roughly one month's time. That basically guarantees he's going to lose. Cerrone by submission, Round 2
Botter: This is an intriguing bout for a number for reasons, the least of which is the fact that Cerrone and Guillard used to be training partners and are still friends. This is a fight that Guillard can absolutely win, but he'll be looking for a knockout punch in order to do so. Cerrone is better in nearly every aspect of the game, and he's proven to be a smarter fighter in the cage. He'll finish this one by submission in the second round at the latest. Cerrone by submission, Round 2
Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman
Roth: C'mon, really? This is Jake Shields' fight to lose. He is better than Ed Herman on paper and has been far more consistent in his career. Jake wins this fight by second-round submission. Shields by submission, Round 2
Finley: This fight carries a good amount of intrigue. Jake Shields moves back up to middleweight where he once held a world title in Strikeforce, and a resurgent Ed Herman is there to greet him. Herman has looked like a different man in his past two outings, but I still don't see it being enough to get the win here. Herman is sure enough scrappy, but has been known to put himself in bad positions. With that being said, Shields isn't the type of fighter who lets opponents out of bad positions. Shields via submission, Round 2
Harris: Herman has to strike first, strike hard and strike with no mercy, sir. I just made that up. In other news, I don't want to watch this fight. I really don't. But I'll keep it interesting for myself by sounding the upset alarms. Herman by TKO, Round 1
Heinis: Shields is an elite grappler, a Cesar Gracie black belt to be exact, but has shown to struggle mightily in fights where he can't get the takedown (his striking is abysmal if you haven't seen it). Herman is a BJJ black belt as well and has at least adequate striking, but Shields is still the better fighter here. I think Herman is very much a live dog here, but Jake does just enough to edge out a close victory. Shields by unanimous decision
Botter: Shields always made a better middleweight than he did a welterweight, and I expect to see that shine through in this fight. With added size, Shields should be able to take Herman to the ground and stifle them there, the same way he did to so many others during his stellar middleweight run before coming to the UFC. Only this time, he'll score an early submission. Shields by submission, Round 1
Snowden: Forget what you saw in his last few fights. Jake Shields is still the Jake Shields we've come to know, and if not love, at least tolerate. That means top control, that means submission, and that means a bad night for Ed Herman. Shields by submission, Round 2
Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts
Finley: Roberts looked solid in his UFC debut back in May, but everything in this fight is riding on Yushin Okami. A short time ago he was fighting for the middleweight title, and now he's fighting for relevance in an increasingly competitive 185-pound division. "Thunder" has never been an extremely exciting factor, but when he sticks to his game plan, he is effective. I see Okami grinding out the decision to get back into the win column after dropping two straight. Okami via unanimous decision
Harris: Okami just needs to take a deep breath and go in the cage and do his thing. Takedowns, sticking, moving—let the muscles do their work. If he can do that, he can get this one. It will be a shame for Buddy Roberts, though, who is quite simply the best country singer to ever grace the UFC cage. Okami by unanimous decision
Heinis: Ugh, remember when the UFC booked Yushin Okami vs. Rousimar Palhares for this spot on the card? Roberts is actually 12-2 in his professional MMA career and has a pretty decent ground game in terms of both submissions and ground and pound. The Japanese star has powerful wrestling, crisp striking and solid ground and pound/submission defense when he's on. Okami has beaten fighters way better than Roberts, so I can't see him giving away two fights in a row. Okami by unanimous decision
Botter: No offense to Buddy Roberts, but he's being fed to a much better fighter here. This is Okami's fight to win in every way, shape and form. Okami by unanimous decision
Snowden: The Freebirds were a weird team. Michael Hayes was the talker, the charismatic frontman who stirred things up. Terry Gordy was the worker, a big, dumb genius of a wrestler. Buddy Roberts was just kind of there, a holdover from a previous generation. That's really all I know about Buddy Roberts. Okami by decision
Roth: Okami takes this by being the better and bigger middleweight. The Boetsch fight aside, Okami has been one of the best middleweights in the world for the past five years. He'll get back in the driver's seat with a huge TKO win. Okami by TKO
Justin Lawrence vs. Max Holloway
Harris: The UFC always manages to stash some hidden jewel somewhere on the card, a bit of buried treasure for fans in the know. If these two up-and-comers—sporting a combined age of 42—don't put on the Fight of the Night, it could mean one of them got Knockout of the Night instead. I say sound the (mild) upset alarms and dampen all this Holloway hype. Lawrence by knockout, Round 1
Heinis: At 22 years old, Lawrence has well-rounded striking, good takedowns and a stifling top game. Holloway has good striking, but I'm not entirely convinced he can stand toe-to-toe with Lawrence for very long. This should be a decent scrap to open up the card and I think Holloway shows his toughness, but Lawrence will still be too much for him. Lawrence by unanimous decision
Botter: Lawrence is being showcased on pay-per-view here because Zuffa believes he can be a star. And that might be the case. But Holloway has the tools to defeat him in a striking battle, especially with his ability to work punches to the body. This should be an exciting fight, and Holloway will take a decision. Holloway by unanimous decision
Snowden: I'd prefer Joey Lawrence versus Max Headroom in a battle of '80s television icons. But this fight, well, it's a Wikipedia special. You know what I mean. I had to go to Wikipedia to figure out who they are. Not a good thing. I'm going to make this prediction on the strength of their nicknames. Holloway by decision
Roth: I'm picking Justin Lawrence in this. I think it's because he impressed me a lot when on TUF, and I believe he's part of the next evolution of MMA. Figure it ends in the second round by TKO. Lawrence by TKO, Round 2
Finley: This is the best type of fight when dealing with young careers. Lawrence has high expectations coming off TUF and his nasty KO over John Cofer, while Holloway rebounded from a shark-tank debut against Poirier to defeat Pat Schilling. We will get a better feel where both stand when the smoke clears on this one, but I see Lawrence keeping the train rolling with a second-round stoppage in Denver. Lawrence via TKO, Round 2
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