Celebrate Valentine’s Day this Saturday with the UFC. The upcoming Fight Night card isn’t the best offering the UFC has given us recently, but there are few solid matchups to look forward to including Benson Henderson’s debut at 170 pounds in the main event. Let’s take a look at a few of the key matchups Saturday Night.
Zach Makovsky vs Tim Elliot
Both flyweights in this bout are coming off of losses, Elliot has even lost back to back fights. Saturday will decide which fighter gets back on track and gets one step closer to a title shot. Elliot lost his last fight against Joseph Benavidez via submission in the 1st round, but Elliot did have his moments against Benavidez, one of the few flyweight elite. Elliot showed from the moment the bell rang that he was going to bring the fight to Benavidez and was even able to get Benavidez into a few compromising positions on the ground. Makovsky is a solid young prospect, but he isn’t quite as savvy of a fighter as Benavidez and won’t be as able to recover from compromising positions. I look for Elliot to move forward and control the fight from bell to bell.
Pick Tim Elliot via Decision +190 @5dimes
Prazeres and Lee have had nearly identical careers in the UFC so far. Both are 2-1 with their only loss coming in their UFC debut to stiff competition (Prazeres to Paulo Thiago and Lee to Al Iaquinta). Kevin Lee is one of my highest ranked prospects coming up in the UFC. Lee was able to give Al Iaquinta quite a bit of trouble, almost securing a submission via a heel hook in the 2nd round. Iaquinta has gone on to show that he’ll be a real force in the lightweight division, so a loss to Iaquinta in your UFC debut isn’t too much to hang your head about, and Lee was able to recover and win his next two fights. Lee has shown that he has solid boxing and he’s also shown great ground and pound, particularly in his last fight against Jon Tuck. I see Lee having the advantage wherever the fight goes.
Pick Lee -155 @5dimes
Henderson vs Thatch is the most intriguing matchup on this card by far. Former lightweight champion Benson Henderson is stepping up on short notice to make his welterweight debut against Brandon Thatch. This will be Benson’s first fight in the UFC where he doesn’t have a significant size advantage. Thatch won’t only have the size/reach advantage in this fight. He’s also more of an explosive, devastating striker. Thatch has 6 KO’s in less than a minute to his credit.
Where Benson has the advantage is in the grappling game and he simply has much more experience against elite competition. Benson Henderson has the nickname “Smooth” for a reason. Benson has one of the best abilities to remain calm under pressure. He’s been in deep trouble with submission attempts many times before and calmly defended and fought his way out of trouble. A perfect example of Benson staying calm under pressure is his victory over Josh Thomson. Thomson took Benson’s back several times in the fight, but Benson recovered position on every occasion.
I look for Benson to handle Thatch pretty easily. He simply has too much experience for Thatch. Even if Thatch is able to momentarily get Benson into trouble I see Benson weathering the storm and regaining control of the fight. The longer the fight lasts, the more the fight shifts in Benson’s favor. Benson is no stranger to a 5 round fight. If Thatch is unable to finish the fight early, then he may be in for a long night.
Pick Benson Henderson -105 @5Dimes
Melvin Manhoef is a solid upset pick on the Bellator card Friday night. He’s one of the most devastating strikers in his division and always has a puncher’s chance at victory. I can easily see Manhoef winning this fight by knockout.
Pick Manhoef Wins Inside Distance +250 @5Dimes