UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov Preview and Predictions
UFC Fight Night: Munoz vs. Mousasi Fight Card
* Fighter’s unofficial UFC Ranking from rankingmma.com is noted in ().
Benson Henderson (LW #2) vs. Rustam Khabilov (LW #14)
Diego Sanchez (LW #16) vs. Ross Pearson (LW #18)
John Dodson (FLY #2) vs. John Moraga (FLY #8)
Rafael dos Anjos (LW #8) vs. Jason High (WW #51)
Yves Edwards (LW #50) vs. Piotr Hallman (LW #56)
Bryan Caraway (BW #11) vs. Erik Perez (BW #13)
Sergio Pettis (BW #19) vs. Yaotzin Meza (BW #41)
Bobby Voelker (WW #62) vs. Lance Benoist (NR)
Scott Jorgensen (FLY #18) vs. Danny Martinez (FLY #25)
Jon Tuck (LW #73) vs. Jake Lindsey (NR)
Patrick Cummins (LHW #26) vs. Roger Narvaez (NR)
Benson Henderson (-240) vs. Rustam Khabilov (+200)
We all know Benson Henderson is legit. The question comes down to just how good is Rustam Khabilov. Supposedly, Greg Jackson has stated in the past that he believed Khabilov was championship material. That belief will truly be put to the test in this main event showdown as Henderson is still one of the top lightweights in the world today. Henderson pushes a feverish pace and can wins fights with his striking or wrestling. Khabilov is known for his big slams and more than held his own against Jorge Masvidal’s boxing style. The advantage I see calling out is Henderson’s vast experience in 5-round fights. Khabilov didn’t seem like the freshest guy in the world against Masvidal in Round 3 of their fight. There is just too much risk in picking Khabilov to beat Henderson in a 5-round fight.
Prediction: Henderson via Decision
Ross Pearson (-185) vs. Diego Sanchez (+160)
Two former TUF winners will go at it as both fighters are in desperate need of a signature victory. Sanchez is one of the longest tenured UFC fighters in the promotion today. He has thrown out some hints that he is nearing the latter stages of his fight career. Although he is still fighting with the same level of ferocity, Sanchez has lost a step. He’s usually a step slow with his punches and his wrestling has been a virtual non-factor in recent years. Despite Sanchez’s struggles, he’s still a very live underdog considering this fight will take place in his hometown of New Mexico. Sanchez is very fired up to finally fight in front of his friends and family. Sanchez has been a notorious slow starter, but I think he’s going to come right out at the bell pushing the pace. It’s going to be a difficult task for Sanchez to win with his current skill-set against a pure striker like Ross Pearson. Pearson has speed, excellent takedown defense, and good pop in his punches. This fight in my opinion will resemble Kampmann vs. Sanchez. Pearson may inflict more damage, but Sanchez’s pace is going to win him a razor-thin decision.
Prediction: Sanchez via Decision
John Dodson (-500) vs. John Moraga (+400)
I’m not sure why Sean Shelby felt the need to book this fight after both fighters already faced each other in December of 2010. Since the fight happened on the regional circuit, I guess Shelby wants to replay the fight for UFC fans to watch. Both fighters have improved since their original showdown, which Dodson won via Unanimous Decision. Yet, there is a clear striking advantage for John Dodson that still exists. I full expect Dodson to use his speed and angles to keep this fight standing and win via decision. Hopefully, Dodson-Might Mouse II is booked soon because Dodson is certainly worthy of a rematch.
Prediction: Dodson via Decision
Rafael dos Anjos (-300) vs. Jason High (+250)
Rafael dos Anjos went from being a fringe title contender to now fighting a virtual unknown in Jason High. No disrespect to High, he’s always been an underrated wrestler with good submissions, but he has never scratched the surface of Top 10 consideration. He’s moving down to 155 lbs. for this fight, so his wrestling could be a real difference maker in the division, but just not against a Top 10 fighter like Dos Anjos. Rafael is coming off a loss to undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov, so no shame there considering Khabib could be fighting for the title in the next year. Prior to that loss, Dos Anjos was on a 5-win streak, highlighted by a decision victory over Donald Cerrone. Dos Anjos has fared pretty well against wrestlers as of late, winning a clear-cut decision over Mark Bocek and submitting Kamal Shalorus. Unless, High has improved his striking to keep Dos Anjos guessing, this should be a winnable fight for Dos Anjos.
Prediction: Dos Anjos via Submission
Piotr Hallmann (-185) vs. Yves Edwards (+165)
Hallmann is considered the favorite in this fight, but I’m going to have to side with the seasoned veteran Yves Edwards. Hallmann debuted as a significant underdog in 2013 against Francisco Trinaldo After nearly being finished in the 1st round by body strikes, he stormed back to win via submission. He lost his next fight to Al Iaquinta, though he hung tough. In the end, it was clear that Hallmann’s striking was still in need of some work. Yves Edwards’ striking is never a worry. He’s a technician on the feet, and despite going just 1-3 (should be 1-4, but loss versus Medeiros was overturned), he’s still very capable of competing at a high level. Of those 3 losses, two were split decisions to Daron Cruickshank and Isaac Vallie-Flagg, and the other was a fairly controversial decision as well against surging Lightweight Tony Ferguson. If you go back and watch those fights, it’s easy to see that Edwards is not as washed up as his record would suggest. Ultimately, I just don’t see Hallmann’s striking being at the level of a Ferguson or Cruickshank. Hallmann’s way to win this fight is with his grappling, but Edwards is just way too savvy in my opinion to be taken down and submitted. I like Hallmann a lot, but Edwards has something to prove here.
Prediction: Edwards via Decision
Erik Perez (-115) vs. Bryan Caraway (-105)
Perez is 9-1 in his last 10 fights, while Caraway is 4-1 in his last 5. In a strange twist, both fighters’ only loss came to the same man, Takeya Mizugaki. Caraway is the stronger wrestler and is a bit more seasoned against top-level competition than Perez. Caraway has shown an excellent chin, but still struggles at times with his striking and striking defense. He’s gritty and much tougher than some give him credit for. Originally, I was going to go with Caraway winning this fight via Submission, but after stewing it over, I think Perez’s dynamic striking game is going to win him this fight. Caraway will struggle if he can’t get the fight to the ground, and Perez’s takedown defense has improved. Any lengthy time on the feet could spell doom for Caraway. I can certainly see Caraway winning this fight, he’s submitted Johnny Bedford, Mitch Gagnon, and Marcus Brimage in the last 3 years. Yet, Perez seems to just be hitting his stride and as long as he can keep the fight standing, I think he has the skills to win this.
Prediction: Perez via Decision
Sergio Pettis (-450) def. Yaotzin Meza (+360) via TKO
Lance Benoist (+125) def. Bobby Voelker (-145) via Decision
Scott Jorgensen (-245) def. Danny Martinez (+205) via Submission
Jon Tuck (-165) def. Jake Lindsey (+145) via Decision
Patrick Cummins (-325) def. Roger Narvaez (+265) def via Submission