Fight week is upon us yet again, and this time it's UFC On Fox 7 this Saturday. The headlining bouts are Frank Mir vs. Daniel Cormier and Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez for the lightweight strap, as well as the two main fights there are two other bouts on the main card featuring Strikeforce vs. UFC fighters.
Daniel Cormier has certainly had a meteoric rise to prominence, coming in as a relative unknown in the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix.He not only knocked out current UFC title challenger Antonio Silva, but totally dominated Josh Barnett to become the tournament champion. Mir, on the other hand, is coming off a TKO loss to Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 last May. The former UFC Heavyweight cChampion was on a three fight win streak prior to challenging JDS for the belt, and will look to get back to winning ways this Saturday.
This is a tough fight for both fighters in my opinion. Mir has a lot to lose, as two straight losses and one to a promotional newcomer would surely put him in a do-or-die situation. On the other hand, Cormier could have his hype train thoroughly derailed with a loss to Mir.
The important thing here is where the fight takes place. A lot of people are giving Cormier a big advantage on the feet, but I think that may be slightly wrong, so hear me out. If Mir can keep the shorter and stockier Cormier at a distance, use his jab, and make him think twice about trading, it could be a game changer.
In my opinion, if Cormier is forced to go for a takedown, then the fight is as good as over. I know Mir doesn't have the wrestling credentials of Cormier, but what he lacks in that department he more than makes up for in Jiu-Jitsu skills. I think the worst place DC could end up is on the ground with Mir, because that guy can break bones even when semi-unconscious. Of course this would all be elementary, if Cormier shows up and steamrolls Mir, but I don't think that is going to happen.
Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez
Anybody who follows my writing knows what I think about this match up: it is all Bendo. The guy is too fast, too explosive and too dynamic for 'El Nino'. This isn't to say that Melendez can't take the win though, because it's not all about stats and previous fights. There are no easy fights in MMA, and Melendez is most certainly a top 10 lightweight.
So what is the key for Melendez? First he will have to nullify the kicking of Bendo, the best way to do that is to come forward relentlessly. Never give the guy a chance to plant his feet and throw those kicks. That is much easier than trying to check them most likely. Melendez is quite able to adapt to his opponent's style as we've seen in the past, but Henderson is a different breed.It will take a performance of a lifetime by Gil to unify the Strikeforce and UFC Lightweight belts.
I feel Henderson is under more pressure in this fight. Putting the title on the line is never going to be a walk in the park, but against a promotional newcomer this could be the makings for a huge upset. An upset which, if it comes to pass, could change the shape of the division in a big way.
The UFC Heavyweight division will surely have a new potential title contender if Cormier can get past Mir. The lightweight division would have a new king, and the UFC would have a new Strikeforce-esque feel to it. Along with the resurgence of Pride fighters, it could be back to the old school for the UFC. This Saturday will be a pivotal event for both the divisions in question, as well as the promotion as a whole.