Two UFC events in one week, seems too good to be true doesn't it? Well this Saturday the UFC comes out strong yet again with a lightweight championship up for grabs in the main event and some key matchups in a number of different divisions. Once again Jordan Cieciwa and I go head to head in our picks and the question remains can #TeamJC keep the momentum going? After Wednesday's UFC Fight Night 27 which saw #TeamJC edge out #TeamLynch 9 to 8, the pride of Winnipeg looks to keep the winning streak alive. Let us know which side you're on, #TeamLynch or #TeamJC and feel free to leave your opinions in the comment section below.
Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis (Lightweight title fight)
James Lynch – TSN.ca (@LynchOnSports)
An injury to Canadian TJ Grant has lead the way for one of the most anticipated rematches in UFC history as current 155lb torchbearer Henderson faces off with the last ever WEC lightweight champion Pettis. For those familiar with the highlight reel "Showtime Kick" that has been floating around on YouTube, that emanated from Henderson and Pettis' first encounter at WEC 53 (In which Pettis won via decision).
When the UFC absorbed the WEC, the 26-year old was injured and it was "Smooth" who earned the title shot with then champion Frankie Edgar. Since defeating the New Jersey native, Henderson has defended his title three times, but would no doubt love to erase the blemish on his record from Pettis.
If the Roufusport fighter wants to emerge victorious, he'll need to stop the ever improving leg kicks of the current 155lb champ, who's earned a number of victories with that weapon in his arsenal. The question is which fighter has improved more since their first encounter?
While Henderson has defeated tougher opposition, he's narrowly squeaked by in his decision wins over Edgar (in the second fight) and Melendez.
The Taekwondo black belt meanwhile has been finishing opponents, including top contenders Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone. Considering this fight is in his hometown of Milwaukee and the fact he's been waiting a long time for this opportunity, Pettis should deliver.
We should see "Showtime" land more power shots than his opponent and while this will most likely be a close encounter, the hometown kid will have his hand raised in the end.
Pettis via unanimous decision
Jordan Cieciwa – TSN Radio 1290 (@FitCityJordan)
There are very few fighters as explosive and precise as Anthony Pettis. He won their last fight with a solid decision. Being a Rufus Sport product and having Duke Rufus in your corner makes you all the more dangerous.
The only problem here, no one beats Ben Henderson anymore. At 155lbs Ben Henderson has seen everyone, and beat them. In his last three fights he has had two split decisions that went his way and they should not have. There is a long standing tradition that the judges don't give away a championship on a decision, unless it's very clear who the winner was.
Unfortunately for Anthony Pettis, I expect that to be his fate. While Edgar and Melendez both looked better than Ben Henderson, they were both denied the win. Unless Pettis does something to end this fight or score a very dramatic knockdown, this fight will go to Henderson.
Henderson via split decision
Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett
March 2002 was the last time Barnett competed inside the octagon and on Saturday night he aims to prove that he's still a legitimate contender by taking out a former UFC heavyweight champion.
Popped for steroids following his win over Randy Couture at UFC 36, "The Warmaster" was banished from the UFC and despite this, developed a successful career overseas with the now defunct PRIDE organization. Since leaving PRIDE in 2006, Barnett amassed a 9-1 record, with his only blemish coming against Daniel Cormier, the same man who defeated Mir in his last fight.
What's interesting about this fight is both are nearly identical in height, reach and age, while also possessing superior skills on the ground. The one area they differ is experience, as Barnett has fought 38 times compared to Mir's 23, however part of that was due to the significant amount of time the Las Vegas native missed due to his motorcycle accident in 2004.
Barnett is the better wrestler and as long as he doesn't try and test his jiu-jitsu against the TUF 8 coach, he should win this fight with that alone. It may end up being a very lackluster affair, but the Seattle native should effectively get the takedowns he needs to win on points and have his hand raise for his 33rd career victory.
Barnett via unanimous decision
11 years ago the UFC had the pleasure of having Barnett in the octagon. Since then he has been busted for PED's 3 times, fought in a bunch of different organizations, and has looked fantastic doing it. His opponent is Frank Mir.
The former UFC heavyweight champion has some impressive wins. He looked great against Big Nog (nasty arm break) and Cro Cop ate a few big knees from one of the sports' best. The problem here is that Mir just isn't dominant enough to beat Josh Barnett.
The PRIDE veteran is truly a bad dude. He doesn't play nice with others and he has a lot of skill. CSW, Barnett's home gym has a very distinct style. It's unmatched and unique. I think it will be enough to allow Barnett to out wrestle and find a submission or score a TKO on Mir.
No matter what, I think it will be a fun fight to watch. Both athletes can box, and are not afraid to throw punches. I'd expect this one to be explosive.
Barnett via 3rd round TKO
Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida
Team Alpha Male fighter Mendes looks to inch one step closer to a rematch with 145lb kingpin Jose Aldo, by taking out Jackson/Winkejohn pupil Guida on Saturday night.
Much like his teammate Urijah Faber, the 28-year old has clearly looked head and shoulders above anyone else in his weight class outside of the Brazilian champion. In his last fight, Mendes needed over just a minute to dispatch Darren Elkins, who headed into that contest on a five-fight win streak.
Guida meanwhile has looked extremely lackluster and appears to be a shell of the fighter that once earned "Fight of the Year" back in 2009 in his matchup against Diego Sanchez. Most recently Guida made his featherweight debut, and won a close split decision victory over former Sengoku featherweight champion Hatsu Hioki.
Despite this, everything the 31-year old Guida does, Mendes does better. I see the former NCAA Division I wrestler picking his spots and finding his range throughout the fight.
Expect "Money" to live up to his nickname Saturday and cash in with another big win as he'll become the first man to knockout Guida inside the octagon.
Mendes via second round knockout.
I'd like to think this is going to be a good fight. Honestly I expect this to have an early "Knock out of the Night".
This fight will put Mendes back at the top contender in the division, and with an exclamation point. Team Alpha Male have all stepped up their game since welcoming Duane "Bang" Ludwig to the coaching staff. It's a little tough to grab and control Clay Guida, that fact will be the thing that stalls the knock out.
Clay is exceptionally fast, and tough. I'd expect him to use that speed to stay alive. However, the wrestling edge and strength goes to Mendes. That means Mendes will eventually gain control of this match. Given his power, I think Mendes ends this in a flurry on the mat.
Mendes via 3rd round TKO
Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera
A pair of heavyweights clash on Saturday with potential unemployment on the line, as Alliance MMA fighter Vera meets orthodox kickboxer Rothwell.
Vera returns to the heavyweight division for the first time since 2008, where he was completely outmatched in just one round of work by Fabricio Werdum back at UFC 85. Going 4-4-1 during his tenure at 205lbs, the 35-year old hopes to find the form that earned him four straight wins when he entered the UFC back in 2005.
His opponent, IFL veteran Rothwell has also had a lackluster tenure inside the octagon going 2-3 with wins over Gabriel Gonzaga and Brendan Schaub. Stylistically both these fighters match up similarly, being well versed on the ground and possessing knockout power.
Because of what's at stake, expect both fighters to come out for an all-out war and keep the fight standing. Vera should be the faster and more accurate striker in this contest and will likely earn his first win at heavyweight since November of 2006.
Vera via unanimous decision
Brandon Vera came on the scene with a bang, and then seemingly fizzled. He has not lived up to the hype, and falls short when it comes to wrestling with larger opponents. Ben Rothwell has looked devastating at times and then has fallen flat in critical fights. It seems that Rothwell has been given a TRT card for this fight. That in addition to the fact that it's pretty low pressure is the recipe for Rothwell to show his better side.
His head will be in the game, he'll have all the strength in the world, and he has the skill he needs to end this fight with a big punch. I'm expecting the extra weight to slow Vera down and negate any advantage he may have with his agility and excellent kickboxing game.
Rothwell via unanimous decision
Erik Koch vs. Dustin Porier
Two 24-year olds aim for redemption in the featherweight division as Roufusport member Koch meets ATT pupil Porier. Both of these fighters have fallen short in bids of earning a title shot as Koch was dominated by Richard Lamas at UFC on FOX 6 and Porier was bested by Jackson/Winklejohn student Cub Swanson back in February.
While betting lines have the hometown favorite Koch as a slight favorite, Porier has been more active competing three times in 2012 compared to the Milwaukee native who didn't fight at all in 2012 due to injuries. On paper the Taekwondo black belt is the more talented fighter, but the question remains how will Koch bounce back from the beating he took from Lamas back in January? While "The Diamond" does have a three inch reach advantage, I expect "New Breed" to perform well enough for the win in what should be a closely contested contest.
Koch via unanimous decision
Few fighters in the UFC are as gritty and fearless as Dustin Porier. I will take him in a fight every time. In this match up, Koch has the team advantage being from Rufusport, but he's up against a tough and talented fighter who has something to prove.
The injury bug has also bitten Koch, meaning he's going to be rusty while Porier is going to be ready to go and sharp as ever. Add to all that the fact that Porier has a reach advantage, and I expect this to go Porier's way. He'll be able to get take downs and score strikes as needed to win points and the fight.
Porier via Unanimous decision.
Lynch: Tibau, Elliot, Krauss, Kang, Krylov, Couture, Cedenblad
JC: Varner, Elliot, Krauss, Kang, Krylov, Iaquinta, Cedenblad
Agree or Disagree? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter @lynchonsports or @FitCityJordan. Also be sure to tune into "The Weigh-In" every Saturday on TSN 1290 Winnipeg as myself and Jordan Cieciwa go toe-to-toe discussing the hottest topics in Mixed Martial Arts.