MMA Review: #494: UFC Fight Night 60
-So I’m back after a short break, gonna try to catch up on all the shows we’ve had in 2015. This one was initially meant to be main evented by a Welterweight fight between Matt Brown and Tarec Saffiedine, but an injury to the Belgian (basically the story of his UFC career) sent that one onto the scrapheap and Zuffa replaced it with Brandon Thatch vs. Stephen Thompson, which didn’t exactly scream marquee (even if I’m a massive fan of Thatch and think he’s got top five potential). Instead though after Thompson was injured, things got much more interesting as former Lightweight champ Benson Henderson (!) stepped in to fight Thatch. More on that fight later but yeah, I was excited.
UFC Fight Night 60
-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Brian Stann.
Fun-sounding fight to start us off then with prospect Borg – coming off an impressive win over Shane Howell – taking on Kelades, who had (sort-of) upset Paddy Holohan to win his UFC debut back in October. Despite that win for Kelades being better than any on Borg’s ledger I was taking the ‘Tazmexican’ as he seemed like the more dynamic fighter.
Big pop for Borg upon arrival but who knows whether it’s more down to his use of Motley Crue as his entrance theme. Can’t go wrong with Shout At The Devil, dude.
Round One and Kelades manages to walk through a couple of kicks to get to the clinch. Takedown attempt from Borg and he gets Kelades down easily into guard. Announcers are all over Borg’s nuts like crazy. Kelades manages to lock him down from the guard, but Borg breaks through with a solid elbow. Triangle attempt from Kelades but Borg shrugs it off and uses it to pass the guard. Inverted triangle attempt is avoided too but it allows Kelades into half-guard. Borg continues to attempt to pass, but Kelades does a good job of preventing it. He gives his neck for a possible guillotine, but manages to use it to reverse into top position. He’s got side mount on Borg now and does a good job of retaining top position as Borg squirms. Reversal from Borg allows him to pop back up and he tries a slam, but Kelades defends and stays vertical. A second attempt is more successful and he lands in the full guard again. Into half-guard for Borg but Kelades uses the fence to stand. Borg stays on him though and delivers a BIG SLAM to plant him back down on the other side of the cage. A pass into side mount follows. SICK pass into mount from Borg with seconds to go and Kelades is in trouble. He eats a couple of shots and then Borg slips into an arm triangle, but the time runs out before he can finish it off. 10-9 Borg and he really ran away with the round in the final minute.
Round Two and Kelades comes out swinging, but almost eats a right high kick for his troubles. He lunges into the clinch, but Borg easily muscles him into the fence. They jockey for position and Borg lands a beautiful knee to the body and then drops for the takedown. Slam follows and Kelades is on his back in guard again. Triangle attempt from Kelades but again Borg postures free and drops a big right hand down through the guard to make him pay. He’s into half-guard now too. Looks like Kelades might be getting tired too as he’s breathing pretty heavily. Short elbows sneak through for Borg and he lands a clean left hand too as he works to pass. Kelades gives his back and Borg slaps one hook in, landing some punches to soften him up. Rear naked choke attempt follows but Kelades does enough to defend. He’s bloody though and he looks firmly out of steam. Big shots connect for Borg. He looks to transition into full mount, but Kelades manages to do just enough to defend. He winds up on his back in half-guard but Borg slips free and locks up a D’Arce. Crowd think it’s all over, but Kelades manages to hang tough and tell the ref that he’s okay. Borg gives it up and ends up back on top in the guard, where he drops some more elbows. Big shots connect for Borg. Round ends with Borg going for a guillotine. 10-8 round for Borg as he was totally dominant throughout.
Round Three and a kick from Kelades is caught and Borg plants him on the ground again. Kelades grabs a half-hearted guillotine, but Borg seems fine and works into half-guard before freeing his neck. Nice elbows from Borg and he settles into top position well. Kelades tries to reverse to no avail and in a wild scramble Borg almost gets a topside triangle before working into half-guard again. Kimura attempt from Borg and he somehow steps over the head with his left leg while his right one remains in half-guard (!). Ridiculous flexibility. A couple of cranks and Kelades taps out. That was an insanely slick submission.
Well, Borg came in with a lot of hype and totally lived up to it by owning Kelades practically throughout the whole fight. The sky seems to be the limit for him at 22, but I hope the UFC don’t rush him – the loss to Dustin Ortiz suggests he still has a lot to learn and they may as well build him slowly rather than throw him to a wolf like Benavidez or Dodson just yet. This was a tremendous show of grappling skill though and an enjoyable fight to boot.
Young prospect Lee had looked impressive in his September win over Jon Tuck, and this was another step up the ladder for him, facing the stocky Brazilian Prazeres – a Gleison Tibau clone who had grinded a win away from Mairbek Taisumov in his last fight. Given that that fight was almost a year before this one and that Lee’s a huge 155lber I figured the ‘Motown Phenom’ would avoid being grinded on and pick up the win.
First round begins and Lee opens with some kicks, but Prazeres catches one and goes for a takedown. After a struggle he gets it, but Lee goes for a guillotine. It doesn’t look tight though and sure enough he pops his head free and then hops onto the back with both hooks as Lee scrambles. Lee stands with the Brazilian on his back, and somehow he looks ridiculously calm given how good a grappler he has clamped onto him. Good job from Lee though and he manages to shake him off into the clinch. Prazeres continues to look for the takedown, but Lee breaks off and lands with a counter uppercut as Prazeres swings a combo. Takedown attempt from Prazeres is stuffed well by Lee, who puts a couple of glancing combinations together. Nice body kick from Lee. Glancing head kick follows. Left hand lands for Lee but Prazeres fires back with a heavy albeit stiff combination. Looks like Prazeres might be slowing down already in fact as he takes a couple more combos from Lee. Slip puts Prazeres down but Lee allows him back up. Hard right hand connects for Lee as he stands. Prazeres is beginning to drop his hands. Round ends with Lee stalking forward. Close round but 10-9 Lee.
Second round and Lee opens with a low blow. Ref refuses to recognize it though and they continue. Nice right hand connects for Lee in an exchange. He’s beginning to use both his speed and reach advantage now and he’s dropping his hands to taunt the Brazilian. Takedown attempt from Prazeres and he gets Lee down for a second, but the youngster pops back up immediately. Lee exits the clinch with a pair of knees. Low kick from Lee and he defends a takedown by landing elbows to the body. Prazeres keeps driving though and gets him down. Lee immediately wall walks to his feet, but Prazeres stays on him in the clinch. Another takedown follows but Lee hits a switch and uses it to stand again. Takedown now from Lee and he lands in the half-guard. Prazeres looks gassed. Lee tries to step into mount but somehow winds up stepping all the way over the Brazilian, which forces both men to their feet. Few punches land for both before Lee tackles Prazeres to the ground, planting him on his back in full guard. Nice hammer fists land for Lee. Round ends with Lee working from the top with short elbows. 10-9 Lee.
Third and final round and Lee opens with a series of combos that tags Prazeres who swings back with little effect. Hard left hook connects for Lee. Prazeres is landing but his punches seem stiff and laboured. Clinch from Lee and he lands a knee to the body and drops for a takedown. Prazeres defends, but he’s still getting the worse of the standing exchanges. Lee looks supremely confident here. More shots land for him and Prazeres looks exhausted. Takedown attempt from Prazeres but Lee sprawls back well to avoid it. He lands some effective elbows for good measure too. Prazeres keeps trying for the takedown but can’t get Lee off his feet, and another combo lands cleanly for the American as they break. Head kick glances for Lee and he follows with an easy takedown into half-guard. Reversal attempt from Prazeres but Lee’s having none of it and he stays in firm control, dropping some bombs as Prazeres winds up on all fours. Lee almost gets full mount, but instead he stays in control from the side with Prazeres turtled up. Ref could really stop this but he lets it go and Prazeres forces his way to his feet. Lee gets him right back down though with seconds to go and it looks like he’s got the choke locked up! Prazeres manages to last it out though basically being saved by the buzzer. 10-8 Lee for a 30-26 in my book.
Judges have it 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 for Kevin Lee. Not the most entertaining fight if I’m honest but Lee was definitely impressive in that Prazeres is one of those guys who’s hard to look good against and yet – especially in the third round – Lee looked like he was in a different class to him in all areas really and almost finished a BJJ black belt with a submission. The sky’s the limit for this guy I think and I see him as a future title contender if he’s treated correctly and not thrown to the wolves too quickly.
No clue how this one made the main card if I’m honest (despite Kelly looking good in his previous fight), especially with a solid fight like Jim Alers vs. Chas Skelly on the prelims. Blah. Aussie judo ace Kelly seemed like the smart pick though as he’d at least shown decent skill in his last win while Walsh – coming off the awful TUF 19 – failed to make weight in miserable fashion.
Entrances have me in stitches here as the announcers are just tearing into Walsh for missing weight by 5lbs. Dude is in embarrassing shape for a professional athlete, seriously. I mean not everyone can be shredded up (Diego Sanchez for instance was in great shape without being shredded in some of his fights) but this dude is just shameful. And then Kelly walks out to Robbie Williams of all things. Let Me Entertain You!
Round One and Kelly pops Walsh with a couple of jabs and avoids some punches from his TUF veteran opponent. Walsh is really swinging here but Kelly seems to be outlanding him. Left-right combo lands for Walsh flush but Kelly takes it well. Nice left hand connects for Kelly. Exchange sees Walsh’s legs wobble but Kelly doesn’t seem to notice and doesn’t really follow up. All Walsh seems to be doing is spamming the overhand left at the minute. Few punches get through for Kelly but this isn’t the best round so far. One minute to go and these guys seem content to continue the punching exchange. Looks like Walsh might be getting tired already too. Good counter left connects for Kelly. Takedown from Walsh. Round ends shortly after. 10-9 Kelly in a bad round.
Round Two and it begins where the first left off with Walsh wading forward into counters from the Aussie. Takedown is avoided by Kelly. Jab from Kelly but Walsh comes back with a nice combo. Kelly fires back with a combo of his own though. Pair of rights land for Walsh. Ref then calls time to let Kelly replace his mouthpiece. They restart and Kelly hurts Walsh with a left hand. Both men are coming up short on a lot of their punches though. This fight is horrible. Combo lands for Kelly. Sloppy exchange causes Walsh to grin. Takedown attempt by Walsh is easily stuffed by the Aussie. More of the same exchanges continue. Crowd sound restless now and quite rightfully so. I don’t like to dog on fighters but this is garbage. One minute to go and the crowd are now furious. Stiff right jab lands for Kelly. Round peters out standing. Ugh. 10-9 Kelly.
Round Three and the crowd boo right away as the round starts off exactly how the first and second did with a bunch of ineffective striking. Walsh’s technique of like, throwing a punch and then wildly leaning forward is so weird it’s hilarious. Kelly continues to land semi-decent counterpunches on him and they’re basically winning the fight for him. Halfway through the round and Jon Anik calls the crowd “highly intelligent” as they rain down the boos, which tells you a lot about this fight I think. This might be the most booing I’ve ever heard for actual action as opposed to like, lay-and-pray or wall-and-stall if that makes sense. We have one minute to go and Kelly continues to tag Walsh in pretty much every exchange, but with little effect. Fight mercifully ends with more of the same. I have this 30-27 for Daniel Kelly.
Official scores are 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Daniel Kelly. This was though a diabolical fight that didn’t belong anywhere near a UFC main card in 2015. It was terrible stuff and wouldn’t have seemed out of place on a local MMA show in my opinion. Let us speak of it no longer.
This looked like an interesting fight on paper but it was also one that in my eyes, seemed closer on paper, as the streaking Magny had picked up a pair of massive wins in William Macario and Alex Garcia in his last two fights, while two of Kunimoto’s three fight win streak were largely bogus (a gift decision over Richard Walsh and a lucky DQ against Luiz Dutra) while the third was against a Daniel Sarafian who really shouldn’t have been cutting to 170lbs. My pick was Magny in a blowout first round TKO.
Fight begins and Magny stalks forward but eats an early right hand from the Japanese fighter. Magny continues to stalk though and he manages to clip Kunimoto with an overhand right of his own before clinching. They exchange knees inside but Magny lands a low blow and Herb Dean has to call time. He recovers quickly and they restart, with Magny landing a really nice right hand in the first exchange. Big combo has Kunimoto hurt but Magny surprisingly clinches and it allows the Japanese to go for a takedown. Magny defends well and does a really good job of avoiding a trip, and he begins to take over with some knees inside. Couple of shoulder strikes break for Magny and he wobbles Kunimoto with another combo before clinching again. No clue why he keeps clinching when he has Kunimoto in such trouble standing. Takedown attempt from Magny is stuffed but he again lands a couple of solid knees. Round ends there. 10-9 Magny but it was a little dull.
Into the 2nd and Magny comes right out and lands a jab that sets up a combo. Every time these guys exchange standing Kunimoto looks like he’s in trouble. Magny clinches again though (!) but this time he breaks off quickly. Pair of overhand rights glance for Kunimoto but Magny clinches once more and muscles him into the fence. Trip attempt from Kunimoto and this time he trips Magny down into guard. Instant pass to half-guard follows. He works to pass that and looks for a mount, but Magny manages to defend well. Crowd are booing but it’s more in support of Magny than due to any inactivity. Full guard now for Magny but Kunimoto lands a couple of punches over the top. Good job by Magny to kick him away and he pops to his feet, then defends another takedown and opens up with a combo! Crowd explode before Magny surprisingly drops for a takedown. He gets it, but only temporarily as Kunimoto pops right back up. Trip takedown from Magny follows and he looks like he might be able to take the back as Kunimoto rolls for a possible kimura. Hard elbows to the body from Magny as he defends the kimura and Kunimoto doesn’t really defend them. Back mount from Magny now and he flattens Kunimoto out and lands some BIG SHOTS, but he can’t quite finish him off before the round ends. 10-9 Magny but it was a closer round than it perhaps should’ve been due to the inexplicable clinching.
3rd and final round and Magny opens with a combo that stuns Kunimoto and backs him up. Easy takedown follows and Magny immediately passes and takes back mount with both hooks. Kunimoto might be done here. Nice control from Magny and he begins to land punches to soften him up. Herb Dean begins to hover over them, considering stopping the fight, but instead Magny slaps on a tight choke to force the tapout.
Good win for Magny although I did feel he made it harder for himself than he probably had to due to clinching so many times rather than just staying on the outside and striking where he seemed to have much more of an advantage. Regardless, a win is a win and this was Magny’s sixth in a row which is nothing to sneeze at. Future matches would show he’s still not quite on the elite level but we’ll get to them in time. This was a decent enough fight.
Nice-sounding co-main event here with Holloway making another step up in competition after reeling off an impressive four wins in 2014, with his latest being a KO win over Akira Corassani. Miller was undoubtedly his toughest opponent in some time though despite being on the shelf since his last win over Sam Sicilia in January 2014. My pick here was Holloway, feeling that Miller wouldn’t be able to take him down and would be outgunned standing.
Round One begins and Holloway opens with a sharp leg kick. Good leg kick answers for Miller who’s clearly trying to keep his distance. Another kick lands for Cole and he does a good job of dodging out of the way of a counter combo. Straight right from Miller. Holloway keeps trying to cut the cage off but so far Miller’s doing a good job of avoiding that. Trade of kicks sees Holloway slip to the ground before popping up. Clinch is shrugged off by Miller but Holloway hurts him with a NASTY body kick and a right hook. Miller does a good job of recovering quickly, but he takes another seconds later. This time he responds nicely with a leg kick of his own. Good right hand from Miller sets up a clinch, but Holloway nails him with a knee to the body before Cole tries to jump to guard. Holloway puts a stop to that though and separates with a knee. Hard right hook connects for Holloway but Miller clinches to deliver some knees. Elbow answers for Holloway and he follows by taking Miller down into half-guard. SICK sweep from Miller sets up a heel hook attempt but Holloway wriggles free and begins to drop some hard punches. Round ends with Miller still attempting the leglock. 10-9 Miller for me.
Round Two begins and Holloway looks like he’s trying to cut more angles right away, moving around a ton rather than coming straight forward or merely circling. Good leg kick from Miller though. Left hand and a spin kick to the body glance for Holloway. Nice straight left connects for the Hawaiian too. Beautiful counter combo follows as Cole tries to step in with punches. Right hand glances for Miller but Holloway comes back with a heavier right of his own. Takedown attempt from Cole but Holloway stuffs it and makes him pay with a knee. Miller decides to dive for a leglock instead but Holloway’s having none of that and he calls him right back up. AWESOME spinning backfist from Holloway sets up a crushing one-two, but somehow Miller takes it without looking hurt, showing a tremendous chin. Left to the body from Holloway but Miller also takes an accidental eye poke and he doubles over. Ref calls time as Jon Anik realises it was an apparent accidental headbutt rather than a poke. Replay shows Holloway really lead with his head which caused the clash. Miller’s busted wide open from it too around the left eye. They restart and Cole seems okay, but Holloway connects on a counter combo in the first exchange. Beautiful combo follows and forces Miller backwards. Holloway’s really found his range in this round. Good body kick from Cole though. Combo into a wheel kick lands for Holloway but Miller slows him down by clinching. He looks for the plum but Holloway prevents that and breaks free. Flying knee to the body from the Hawaiian and he backs Miller into the fence before hitting a takedown to end the round. 10-9 Holloway to even it up.
Round Three and a stiff jab opens proceedings for Holloway. Striking exchange continues with both men connecting on quick combinations. Left hand wobbles Miller and Holloway follows up with a combo that backs the TUF veteran up. Again Miller’s chin holds up well though. Big combo lands again for the Hawaiian, chaining six or seven strikes together before throwing Miller down. Holloway won’t enter the guard though and he calls him right back up. Left hand lands for Holloway and he shows some tremendous movement to dodge Miller’s shots and land heavy punches of his own. Looks like the more Miller attacks the more he’s being tagged now. BRUTAL left hand snaps Cole’s head right back. Holloway is looking incredible now. Sick combo lands for him ending with a glancing spinning backfist. Big counter right stuns Miller and Holloway follows up with another great combo landing to the body and head. Cole manages to tie him up in the clinch to slow him down, but the Hawaiian breaks off and opens up with a combo again. Right uppercut into a right cross stuns Miller and forces him to clinch again. This time he drops for a takedown, but he can’t get Holloway off his feet. Cole decides to pull guard instead which is a smart move, but with thirty seconds remaining he can’t get anything going and Holloway pulls free and stands. Seconds to go and the bloody Miller continues to push forward, but it’s Holloway who turns it on with another combination as the round ends. 10-9 Holloway for a 29-28. Post-fight Miller seems to know he’s lost and goes off on the ref about the headbutt, but hey, it was an accident, what can you do?
Official scores are 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 for Max Holloway. Best fight on this card yet as Miller looked really good in the first round and actually used his reach to get the better of the striking, but once Holloway found his range in the second he began to take over and it was his countering skill that largely won him the fight as Miller felt he had to come forward in the third and that allowed Holloway to pick him apart. Not sure how big a part the headbutt had to play but yeah, really good fight even if it didn’t actually (in hindsight) suggest that Holloway could break into the real elite level later in the year as he has done.
So as I mentioned earlier, this was supposed to see Thatch facing Stephen Thompson in a match of prospects and strikers, but when Wonderboy pulled out, in a surprising move former Lightweight champ Bendo – only four weeks removed from a tight loss to Donald Cerrone – stepped in, moving up a weight class in the process. Intriguing fight and an upgrade from the original? Hell yes, even if I saw it as a bad fight for Henderson – I saw Thatch as a potential top five talent at 170lbs and what’s more the guy is possibly the biggest 170lber out there (there were photos going around prior to this fight that showed him dwarfing GSP for example) and so I just didn’t know how Bendo could get him down to the ground and on the feet he looked outgunned. My prediction was Thatch via TKO.
Round One and wow, you can see the size difference right away. Thatch is HUGE. Low leg kick early for Henderson. Thatch really pushes forward in the opening minute but neither man really lands anything of note. Lunging uppercut glances for Henderson. Left hand connects for Thatch in a brief exchange and he follows with a body kick. Pair of nice kicks from Bendo but Thatch comes back with one to the leg. Big right uppercut to the body from Bendo. Thatch fires back with a body kick and follows with a hard right hand. This is a pretty furious pace so far. Exchange sees Thatch go down off a front kick, but it was more of a slip and he pops back up. Action continues with Thatch still on the front foot, although to be fair it’s been a super-even round in the striking with both men landing. Into the clinch and Thatch lands with a big knee to the body and follows with a body kick. Bendo comes back though with one of his own. Thatch again lands to the body and this time Henderson takes a deep breath. Knee to the body follows. Flying knee into a body kick from Thatch and Henderson looks slightly hurt. He stays calm though and circles out before landing a low kick. Front kick to the body from Bendo. Combo follows ending with a right to the body for the former Lightweight champ. Round ends on the feet. Great round; 10-9 Thatch but it could’ve gone either way really.
Round Two and Henderson comes out pumping a jab but eats a left hand over the top from Thatch. Jumping knee misses for Bendo. Clinch from Henderson but Thatch shrugs it off and glances with a knee. They exchange some jabs with both men connecting, but it’s Thatch pushing forward. Nice right hand from Henderson pops Thatch’s head back. Nice right hand gets through for Thatch. Right to the body and a straight right to the head follow. Head kick is just about blocked by Bendo but he still gets knocked back by it. Spinning back kick to the body follows for Rukus. Stiff jab snaps Henderson’s head back. Henderson comes back with a jab of his own and a right uppercut. Right hand wobbles Bendo and he goes backwards into the fence where he takes a big left body kick. He’s tough as nails though as he simply circles out and shakes his head. Good combo lands for Bendo in an exchange but he eats another body kick. Crowd are going crazy with everything Thatch lands. SICK foot sweep from Thatch drops Henderson to his back, and he follows in with a right before Henderson spins and looks for his own single leg. Thatch stuffs it and lands a pair of lefts as they stand. Big right uppercut into a right hook from Thatch and he’s got Bendo backpedalling big time now. Knee misses for Thatch but he grabs Bendo and TOSSES HIM DOWN LIKE A CHILD. Wow. Crowd go crazy as he stands over him and kicks the legs before calling him back up. Seconds to go now and an uppercut lands for Henderson, who manages to dodge a spin kick too. Round ends just after that. 10-9 Thatch in a tremendous round for him.
Round Three and Henderson connects on a pair of opening right hands. Thatch continues to push the action but he walks into a right high kick from Henderson. Right hook follows but Thatch still seems confident and continues to stalk forward. Nice left hand from Bendo. Spin kick from Thatch and he lands with a solid right hand. Beautiful head movement from Thatch allows him to avoid some punches from Henderson and he lands with a vicious knee to the body to stop a takedown attempt. Another knee sets up a trip attempt for Thatch but this time Henderson blocks. Double leg attempt from Bendo and he drives thatch into the fence. Thatch works to defend it and shows incredible strength, but Henderson keeps driving and manages to wrestle Rukus down! Scramble from Thatch but he gives up his back in the process and Henderson takes control and slips both hooks in! Thatch looks calm but his right eye looks badly swollen suddenly too. Body triangle for Henderson but Thatch defends any attempt at a choke well using wrist control. Thatch rolls but Henderson stays clamped on his back and with one minute to go he’s still got plenty of time to finish. Thatch looks like he may be breathing heavily. Looks like he’ll last the round out though as Henderson goes for an armbar and it allows Thatch to slip free and spring to his feet much to the delight of the crowd. He can’t land anything though and the round ends there. 10-9 Henderson and he’s back in this fight in a big way.
Round Four and Thatch pushes forward pumping out the right hand, and landing a sharp leg kick too. Henderson fires back with some punches of his own and he looks like the fresher man. Big left hand lands for Bendo. Exchange continues and both men are still landing some hard shots. Clinch from Thatch and he lands with a knee to the body before breaking. Henderson’s going to the body himself too. Single leg from Henderson but Thatch works to defend it. The former champ can’t get him down and Thatch muscles free. Another knee lands for Thatch cleanly off the forehead. Right hand to the body answers for Bendo. Good combo from close range for Thatch. Spinning backfist glances too. Pair of rights connect for Thatch but Henderson fires back with a right uppercut to the body and then hits a SICK double leg to put him down! He immediately gets into half-guard and then to side mount and Thatch is in trouble. He gives his back again off a scramble just as he did in the third, and again Henderson gets both hooks in. Good scramble from Thatch to escape the position but he’s still on his back with Henderson on top, and seconds later he gives his back again! This time Henderson lands some BIG SHOTS to soften him up and as he tries to stand, Henderson trips him back down right into back control. Thatch makes the error of sitting up and that allows Henderson to SINK THE CHOKE AND FORCE THE TAPOUT!
Unbelievable performance from Benson Henderson in what was a really tremendous fight; probably a low-end FOTYC in fact. While he did lose the first two rounds, he never truly seemed outgunned even when Thatch was hitting him with some serious shots, and once he managed to wear Brandon down a bit and start getting takedowns, the momentum really shifted back to the former Lightweight champ. For Thatch this was a disappointing loss but I don’t think it sets him back all that much – Henderson is a great fighter after all and while it did show some holes in his game (namely his defensive grappling) I still think he’s got the potential to be a title contender in the future. Everyone’s has to lose at some point, right? May as well be to a talent like Bendo. As far as Bendo’s future at 170lbs goes, he seems like he wants to give it a real run and for a guy as big for a weight class as he is, this might be a snapshot of the future due to the IV ban. I personally don’t think he’ll become a title contender but you never know really, assuming he re-signs with the UFC which I think he will. Why wouldn’t he? This fight pretty much saved this show.
-Show ends with Henderson celebrating his win….apparently with his customary toothpick in his mouth again. No idea how the guy does that!
Outside of the main event this was not a good show at all. Borg/Kelades was fine as an opener but the three fights following that were pretty dull, with Kelly/Walsh being outright diabolical. Holloway/Miller was fine but wasn’t a barnburner so you’re basically left with a one-fight show. Track that fight down for sure but avoid the rest. Thumbs way down.
Best Fight: Thatch vs. Henderson
Worst Fight: Kelly vs. Walsh
Overall Rating: *1/2
Until next time,