Josh "The Punk" Thomson isn't getting the fight he'd hoped for, but he's still in for one heck of a scrap on Saturday, when the UFC takes over the United Center in Chicago for UFC on Fox 10.
Thomson, the No. 4 lightweight in the UFC, will battle former champion Benson "Smooth" Henderson. Originally, Thomson was slated to take on Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, but the lightweight champion had to pull out due to a knee injury.
Now, Thomson and Henderson will battle for the right to be next in line when Pettis returns to action. It was Henderson whom Pettis defeated at UFC 164 via armbar. It was the second time Pettis defeated his rival.
Understandably anxious for a third crack at Pettis, and another stint as UFC lightweight champion, Henderson has wasted little time jumping right back into action.
This interesting bout highlights a strong card set for Fox on Saturday. Here's a look at the full card, viewing information and predictions.
Just beneath the table are my picks for the Fight Night bonuses.
|UFC Fight Pass Preliminary||4:30 p.m. EST|
|Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris vs. Nikita “Al Capone” Krylov: Heavyweight||Krylov by submission|
|Fox Sports 1 Preliminaries||5 p.m. EST|
|Mike “Biggie” Rhodes vs. George “The Silencer” Sullivan: Welterweight||Rhodes by KO|
|Daron “Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank vs. Mike “The Wolverine” Rio: Lightweight||Rio by submission|
|Junior “Hot Handed” Hernandez vs. Hugo “Wolverine” Viana: Bantamweight||Viana by decision|
|Chico “The King” Camus vs. Yaotzin Meza: Bantamweight||Camus by decision|
|Eddie Wineland vs. Yves “The Tiger” Jabouin: Bantamweight||Wineland by TKO|
|Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres vs. Sergio “The Phenom” Pettis: Bantamweight||Pettis by submission|
|Main Card||8 p.m. EST|
|Darren “The Damage” Elkins vs. Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens: Featherweight||Stephens by decision|
|Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins: Lightweight||Cerrone by TKO|
|Stipe Miocic vs. Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga: Heavyweight||Gonzaga by KO|
|Benson “Smooth” Henderson vs. Josh “The Punk” Thomson: Lightweight||Henderson by decision|
Brian Mazique's predictions, times and card per UFC.com
KO of the Night: Mike "Biggie" Rhodes
This prediction is going out on a limb a bit, as both Rhodes and his opponent George Sullivan are making their UFC debuts. Sullivan has never been stopped, but there is a first time for everything.
Rhodes has length and explosive power. Most importantly, he knows how to use his long arms. He fights well backing up, and is a strong, natural athlete. Sullivan comes straight forward in most every fight. He's very strong, but his defense leaves a bit to be desired.
He swings and misses a lot. That will give a slick fighter like Rhodes the room to counter him with something big. It's not hard to see Sullivan running into a one-hitter quitter that ends the night.
Rhodes is in a good position to make a big splash in his first UFC fight.
Submission of the Night: Nikita "Al Capone" Krylov
Krylov was impressive in his UFC debut, even though he lost by TKO to Soa Palelei at UFC 164. His toughness stood out, but so did his superb ground skills.
Though unsuccessful, he showed he could be aggressive and dangerous from his back. Were he not physically overwhelmed and a bit winded late in the fight, he may have had a better chance of winning. It's also easy to forget how young he is. The UFC's official Twitter account reminds us:
Walt Harris is a pure masher with suspect grappling skills. He is an exceptional athlete who played Division I college basketball. However, if Krylov avoids the initial onslaught and takes Harris down, he should be able to have his way on the mat.
Look for Krylov to win this one by submission.
Fight of the Night: Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone vs. Adriano Martins
By Cerrone's own admission, he's broke and desperately needs a strong showing. Cerrone was quite candid with Majority Draw Radio on MMA Weekly. He said:
What really happened is I spent all my money and now I'm broke. Now I only got one choice, and that's to fight.
It's hard to have money in the bank and want something and then not get it. I just (expletive) buy it. I have no idea what saving money is. It has nothing to do with wanting to go broke. I wish I had millions in the bank; I'd never go broke. Let's get that belt and get millions in the bank.
Which main card bout has the most FOTN potential?
Even before announcing his dire financial state, Cerrone has been known as an all-action fighter.
He stumbled against Pettis in Jan. 2013, but rebounded with a win over K.J. Noons four months later. Most recently, he submitted Evan Dunham via triangle choke at UFC 167 in Nov. 2013.
Cerrone needs to find some consistency, and he's likely to bring the action to Martins.
It takes two to tango, so don't expect Martins to back away. He's won six straight fights, and that includes a submission victory over Daron Cruickshank in Nov. 2013. Martins is versatile, but he doesn't mind standing and trading.
Cerrone's desperation and Martins' willingness to oblige him in a brawl will make for the night's best fight.
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