UFC 164 hits the airwaves on Saturday, Aug. 31, from Milwaukee. The UFC Lightweight Championship is on the line in a highly anticipated rematch between Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis.
The two met in the final WEC fight for that lightweight title and Pettis came away with a narrow win by decision thanks to his Showtime Kick. Henderson has had to live with the highlight being replayed endlessly, but he finally has a chance to exact his revenge.
In the co-main event, a long-overdue heavyweight battle takes place when former UFC heavyweight champions Frank Mir and Josh Barnett square off. The two longtime veterans of the sport will finally meet inside the Octagon in Barnett's return to the organization.
Three more main-card bouts will come your way on Saturday and the main card is stacked with top-10 talent across three divisions.
Here is a look at the current betting odds along with fight predictions heading in to UFC 164.
Two of the featherweight's most talented young stars will square off in the first PPV bout of the night.
Both men have been on the brink of a title shot, but neither has been able to meet the challenge. Poirier lost his contender bout in a Fight of the Year candidate to Chan Sung Jung, and Koch was sidelined with injuries for nearly 18 months after earning his shot at the champion.
Both fighters are coming off losses to the featherweight elite. Poirier dropped a decision to No. 4-ranked Cub Swanson and Koch was brutalized by No. 2-ranked Ricardo Lamas. This is a chance for the two youngsters to move back up the ranks.
Koch is still in the top-10 in the last spot, but I don't necessarily think that's appropriate. He has had one fight in two years and that fight was a one-sided mugging. Meanwhile, other featherweights such as Poirier have been active and impressive.
I favor the slight underdog in this battle. Poirer has been more active and his game seems to be a bit more dynamic at this time while Koch still has a lot to prove. Poirier can use Lamas' blueprint to overwhelm him with strikes on the mat in the second frame.
Betting Odds: Koch (-150) against Poirier (+120) at www.bovada.lv.
Prediction: Poirier defeats Erik Koch by TKO in the second round.
Brandon Vera steps back inside the Octagon for the first time in over a year on Aug. 31, and he moves back up to the heavyweight division for the first time since 2008 to meet Ben Rothwell.
Both fighters have had mixed success in the UFC as of late. Rothwell exchanged losses and wins while Vera was 4-4 with one no-contest in his light heavyweight tenure. The winner of this bout will get another "W" by his name, and a chance to inch up the heavyweight ladder.
I think this is a good move for Vera. He has always had a solid skill set, and at heavyweight, he will have a healthy speed advantage over most. Vera's speed will be the difference against Rothwell. After a takedown in the first round, Vera will simply unload punches until the referee steps in.
Betting Odds: Vera (-140) against Rothwell (+110) at www.bovada.lv.
Prediction: Vera defeats Rothwell by TKO in the first round.
A top-10 featherweight duel will be in the mix of the UFC 164 lineup from Milwaukee. No. 1-ranked Chad Mendes goes up against No. 9-ranked Clay Guida.
Guida made his featherweight debut against Hatsu Hioki in January and came away with a very controversial win. Controversy or not, Guida got the "W" and it was good enough to move him into the top-10 of a stacked division.
Mendes has been a longtime contender, but after dropping his title bid, he has returned with a vengeance. He has looked fantastic in his recent outings, but there is little doubt that Guida is a big step up in competition as he tries to earn another title shot.
Guida will be in this fight for the full 15 minutes, but I don't see him getting in much offense. Mendes is a far superior fighter and he is riding a wave of momentum into the bout. Mendes has the potential to stop Guida, but look for a dominant 30-27 decision victory instead.
Betting Odds: Mendes (-400) against Guida (+300) at www.bovada.lv.
Prediction: Mendes defeats Guida by unanimous decision.
No. 10-ranked Josh Barnett and No. 6-ranked Frank Mir have been around for a long time, but the two former UFC heavyweight champions have never gotten the chance to meet in the cage. That changes on Saturday.
In a night of very even matchups, Barnett and Mir may be the most intriguing battle of them all.
It will pit Barnett's catch-wrestling against Mir's jiu-jitsu. Which wins out? It's a coin flip.
When I flip that coin, it comes up Barnett more times than not. His top game will be the difference in the fight and he should be able to grind on Mir for 15 minutes. Barnett will get in some ground and pound, but Mir's bottom game will keep Barnett from unloading a myriad of punishment.
This fight could go either way, but Barnett has the slightly better shot at winning. This heavyweight showcase is not to be missed.
Betting Odds: Barnett (-190) against Mir (+155) at www.bovada.lv.
Prediction: Barnett defeats Mir by unanimous decision.
The first meeting between these two talented lightweights came back in the WEC for that lightweight title.
Henderson was the champion in making his way to the top of the sport while Pettis was trying to establish his name in the division.
Pettis did just that with a surprising kick that would be named after him. It was good enough to help cap a win by unanimous decision before they merged into the UFC.
Pettis was supposed to get a subsequent title shot, but injuries and Frankie Edgar's rematches kept that from happening. Pettis then lost his UFC debut to Clay Guida. Meanwhile, Henderson went on a win streak that led him to an eventual title-fight win.
Pettis, a native of Milwaukee, worked his way back up to title contention, but decided to drop to 145 pounds to challenge Jose Aldo. An injury forced him off the card and a subsequent injury to top contender TJ Grant opened the door for the rematch. The timetable for his return worked out well and here we are.
Pettis is very talented, but Henderson has improved greatly since their first meeting. He is much more tactical in his fights. Pettis is also coming off an injury. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that Pettis finishes Henderson, but it isn't too likely.
The durable champion will take Pettis into deep waters. He will use his wrestling to stifle the athleticism of the challenger, grind on him and stop him with a submission once he gets tired. Henderson will put another title defense under his belt and get to redeem himself in Pettis' hometown.
Betting Odds: Henderson (-130) against Pettis (+100) at www.bovada.lv.
Prediction: Henderson defeats Pettis via submission in the fourth round.