We’ve seen a lot of UFC lately, but for the most part, the shows have been good. I have a feeling this show will follow suit. With a rematch of one of the greatest MMA fights of all-time and heat seekers like Frank Mir and Josh Barnett, we should be in for a good show.
We tackle the top two fights. Here’s our UFC 164 preview:
Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett
Duan: Barnett by decision or late stoppage
This really all comes down to how much Barnett has left at 35. He’s only fought once against a top flight heavyweight since Pride closed its doors, and he didn’t fair all that well in that one, so it’s hard to know what sort of threat he will be back in the big leagues. He’s been beating the opponents he’s been given, but in truth, they’ve all been guys he was supposed to beat. None of whom would figure to last long in UFC.
I’m taking Barnett here on the basis that he’s always been a tough guy to put away. I feel if he can hang in there, he can get to Mir. He should be the one able to dictate the pace with his wrestling advantage, and Frank has a tendency to wither when he’s forced to work.
Alan: Barnett by decision
Personality wise this is a great matchup. In the cage it may very well be great too. The big question for me is whether Barnett has enough confidence in his “catch wrestling” to want to take it to the mat with Frank and his lethal BJJ. Mir has some of the scariest, most sudden submission skills we’ve ever seen in the octagon and you wouldn’t want to mess with that to show bravado. Josh has never tapped to a submission before so maybe his confidence will be well placed if he chooses to go that route.
If it stays standing, it will be even enough but I think Josh has a slight edge. I don’t think either guy has the power to knock the other out so I think it would be a point-scoring kickboxing style match. I’m hoping that doesn’t come to pass and we get to see these guys show off their ground work. I’m going to predict they go to the ground for a bit, Mir puts Josh in danger so Josh plays it safe and keeps it on the feet for the remainder of the fight, doing enough damage to win a decision
Cactus Jim: Barnett by decision
I don’t think anyone at FGB has ever picked Frank Mir to win a fight. He does occasionally win, so we’re probably all assholes. I’m OK with that and won’t be breaking with tradition. Both Mir and Barnett are in their mid-30′s and most likely winding down long careers. Both have fought some of the best heavyweights ever to step onto the MMA mats and both have been held titles themselves. At this point in their careers, I think Barnett is the guy that still has more in the tank, pushes harder, and really feels like he has something to prove after being stonewalled by Dana White for many years. I see Barnett smothering Mir against the cage when they are on the feet and controlling positions on the ground while landing an occasional shot before the ref calls for a stand up. I don’t anticipate a real barn burner of a match, but I think Josh can stifle Frank enough to take a 3 round victory.
Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
Heidi: Pettis by decision (split)
There’s something to be said about a champion who has remained undefeated in the UFC through seven fights. But, Henderson has also managed to tie BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar for most defenses of the lightweight title at three. Should he defeat Pettis, he will hold the record for most title defenses in the UFC’s lightweight division. But, I think Pettis will be the new champion come Saturday. Pettis has learned from his loss to Clay Guida where he was taken down and unable to use his flashy offense. Benson may come in for takedowns, but I think Pettis is prepared enough to defend them. When it comes to the stand up, Pettis clearly has the edge. I don’t see anything like a “Showtime kick” coming out of this one, but I don’t think Pettis will let up on pressuring Benson and putting him into uncomfortable situations which should result in a decision in his favor.
Alex: Henderson by decision
I would say the most memorable moment in MMA history is the “Showtime kick” from the first meeting of Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis. When the developers at EA Sports wanted to display their ability to capture and present the sport they decided to feature avatars of the two men recreating that moment. What isn’t mentioned is that fight was closely contested going into the final round. That seems to be the way Ben Henderson’s title fights go. Can Pettis break this trend and beat Ben twice? I believe that Ben will avenge his loss, the other one being to Rocky Johnson (not that Rocky Johnson) and defeat Anthony Pettis. Ben Henderson in interviews is talking about his legacy and this fight matters greatly to it.
GG: Pettis by decision
Benson Henderson and I don’t get along. And no, I haven’t personally even met the man. But he’s won one particular fight that I thought he lost (Frankie Edgar part two) and he won another fight against one of my favorite fighters that many thought he lost (Gilbert Melendez). But I really like him. He has great perseverance. He’s highly skilled. And he’s so smart.
But I do think he’s ripe for the upset. Against Edgar, he was actually outworked. Against Melendez, he seemed a bit more frustrated than usual until finding his rhythm late. But the difference here is in the athletic prowess of his opponent. Edgar is a cardio machine. Melendez is a wrestling machine. Pettis is an athletic machine. I think Pettis’ athleticism is going to carry him far in this fight. We saw a lot of it in their first matchup. I think both fighters are better and I think Pettis is still rising. I truly think Pettis has what it takes to be the next big star if he wins here. It could be his moment. He’ll have to want it more than Benson.