Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis
Mike Drahota: This is as good a rivalry as the UFC can deliver right now (outside of Anderson Silva-Chris Weidman, that is). Pettis won their last battle at WEC 53 with the help of quite possibly the most spectacular kick ever seen inside an MMA cage, but I don’t think “Smooth” will fall into that trap once again. Although Pettis is most likely the second best Lightweight, I can’t help but think Henderson has become far and away the best. He won’t get a finish, as usual, but I’ll go with Ben Henderson via unanimous decision.
Rory Kernaghan: The fight between Pettis and Henderson at UFC 164 could mark the beginning of a new era at 155lbs. if Pettis is able to repeat history. Bendo is a great athlete with amazing cardio, but Pettis has some of the craziest striking in all combat sports. Bendo is a smart guy, I don’t expect him to stand with Pettis at all. Look for Smooth to go back to his wrestling roots, and dominate Pettis just like Clay Guida did. Benson Henderson retains his title with a dominant five round decision win.
Brian Cox: Henderson / Pettis could be a toss of a coin. Both are incredible fighters. I think of the two fighters since their last meeting, Henderson has grown more, but when considering Pettis, other than improving his wrestling, I don’t know what could be improved. I think Bendo has a workmanlike attitude. Pettis is more dynamic on the feet, but it could also land him in trouble, should he force another highlight-reel moment. If I have to pick an “X” factor for the fight it would be that Henderson’s desire to hold onto his belt and avenge his 2010 loss will be greater than Pettis’s desire to re-prove a point. For that reason, I’m picking Ben Henderson to win the fight by unanimous decision.
Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett
Mike Drahota: This battle of arguably the two best submission artists the Heavyweight division has ever seen has me excited. Hopefully both Mir and Barnett, who aren’t getting any younger, show up in great shape and put on a war for the fans. I think that both men have enough confidence in their ground game to look for the submission. Mir has the better standup, but Barnett may be able to smother him against the cage like Cormier did. I going to say Josh Barnett wins a decision.
Rory Kernaghan: Frank Mir and Josh Barnett will battle to prove they are still a reasonable force at HW. The two long serving MMA veterans will also fight to prove who is the better grappler. In my opinion, Mir has the advantage on the feet, and on the mat. The biggest advantage he holds over Barnett is that he can submit him from the bottom or top control, whereas JB is a catch wrestler and likes to dominate using position. I don’t really want to see either guy lose, but I think Mir will submit Barnett in round one with a nasty armbar.
Brian Cox: Mir / Barnett are a fight that I’m really looking forward to. I like and appreciate both fighters, but as a big Mir fan, I have to say that I’m anxious to see what Mir has been able to achieve under Greg Jackson’s tutelage. Both fighters are great grapplers and both men are tough. I see this fight as really being about who’s hungrier. Barnett could really benefit from a (debut) win over Mir, while Mir himself, needs a win to not only stop a 2 fight losing streak, but to also stick his name back in the title-mix conversation. For reasons of faith and fan support, I’m going to pick Mir to win this fight via 2nd round TKO.