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Dublin: 2°C Monday 12 April 2021

Uncaged: Henderson seeks another smooth victory

Meanwhile, Conor McGregor’s featherweight division division continues without him as Clay Guida takes on Chad Mendes.

Image: Nam Y. Huh/AP/Press Association Images

BEN HENDERSON’S LIGHTWEIGHT title is on the line in the main event of UFC 164 as he faces the last man to beat him, Anthony Pettis.

Their last fight in the WEC is mainly remembered by Pettis’ “Showtime” kick off the fence in the closing seconds that many believe won him the fight and this bout promises to be every bit as close as their first encounter.

Frank Mir and Josh Barnett duel in the heavyweight division in a matchup that is a decade in the making while Chad Mendes and Clay Guida face off in Conor McGregor’s featherweight division.

Erik Koch and Dustin Poirier will also be looking to state their featherweight claims while Brandon Vera makes the step from 205 to face Ben Rothwell in an interesting heavyweight fight to complete the main card.

It’s Showtime

Ben Henderson has yet to taste defeat in his seven UFC fights but in Milwaukee tonight he comes up against the last man to get the better of him and Anthony Pettis is convinced he can do the same again.

YouTube credit: Dangla94

Henderson, while not always exciting to watch, has looked increasingly comfortable in his role as champion seeing off the likes of Frankie Egdar, twice, and Gilbert Melendez with all of those close victories coming by way of judges’ decisions.

Nearly half of Hendo’s wins, 47%, have come at the hands of the judges highlighting his unrivalled stamina and athleticism. Pettis has finished 56% of his 18 pro fights by way of KO/TKO but if his spectacular kick failed to put Henderson out the last time, a KO is unlikely here this time.

Since his loss to Clay Guida, “Showtime” has impressed in wins over Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon although recent losses to both may show they are past they’re peak, and his single-minded approach recently has been simply to dethrone Henderson.

Even though “Smooth’s” stand-up has improved with every fight Pettis may still have the edge in that department so expect Henderson to revert to his bread and butter, his wrestling and tie-ups.

Pettis will need to be as elusive and innovative as he usually is with his striking if he is to stand any chance but the danger is getting held down by the bigger man as Ben will look for tactical takedowns as he tries to shade another close decision.

Man on Mir

Josh Barnet and Frank Mir have bad blood between them dating back over 10 years. Barnett beat Randy Couture for the UFC heavyweight title back in 2002 before being stripped of it for testing positive for banned substances.

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Around about the same time a young Frank Mir was on his way to claiming the heavyweight title for himself before a motorbike accident but him out of the sport for two years.

YouTube credit: UFC

Fast-forward to today and Barnett is making his return to the Octagon after 11 years away and faces a Frank Mir determined not to suffer three defeats in a row for the first time in his career.

In all honesty neither will be challenging for any titles in the future and as both enter the autumn of their careers they can deem themselves a little bit lucky to feature so high up on a prominent card. But sometimes theses type of personal fights can be the most exciting and the heavy hitting Barnett has every chance of knocking out a visibly slower Mir.

Best of the rest

It is well worth keeping an eye on the two featherweight bouts because realistically any of the four fighters could be the next opponent of Conor McGregor. The rejuvenated Chad Mendes would perhaps be the strongest of the four and he should have enough in his locker to overcome the sometimes erratic but always entertaining Clay Guida.

imageMain event: Henderson victorious after bout with Nate Diaz. Jeff Chiu/AP/Press Association Images

Erick Koch and Dustin Poirier’s bout promises to be full of action and as eight of Poirier’s 13 wins have come inside the first round, Koch will no doubt have to weather and early storm. Koch had been due to face Jose Aldo before losing to Lamas which has set him back down the ladder a bit but he should be able to squeeze out a decision victory here.

Brandon Vera has failed to impress as a light heavyweight so has decided to move up in weight to face Ben Rothwell. Both men are clinging on to their UFC statuses with their patchy records and you would have to favour the power of Rothwell here as he looks to stay in the organisation.

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About the author:

Brian Kirk

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