UFC Fight Night 60 Preview by Philip Hanna
This Saturday night the UFC travels to Broomfield, Colorado. The state where UFC 1 took place over 20 years ago will this time play host to Fight Night 60, a card that it’s fair to say looks rather underwhelming on paper. Two main events have fallen through due to injuries to Tarec Saffiedine and Stephen Thompson, in their place former lightweight champion Benson Henderson has stepped in to make his welterweight debut against Brandon Thatch.
Benson Henderson VS. Brandon Thatch
Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson is a man on a mission of redemption. The former UFC and WEC lightweight champion is currently on a two fight losing streak having been knocked out last August and out-pointed by Donald Cerrone just 4 weeks ago. Coming off the lacklustre fight with ‘Cowboy,’ Benson had only one thing on his mind, getting back into the cage as soon as possible. His opponent is the highly touted Brandon Thatch, 2-0 inside the octagon, he made a very successful start to his UFC career back in 2013 with two first round finishes. Subsequent injuries have kept him out since November 2013 and the Denver native is excited about the prospect of making his return on front of his hometown crowd.
Henderson is a high pressure fighter, he is well versed in all disciplines and has cardio for days. The majority of his UFC fights have gone to a decision including several five round contests. He will look to stay busy, land often and avoid the power of Thatch. Having come out on top of so many close decisions in his career, he seemed genuinely shocked when the decision didn’t go his way back in January. We may see a different Benson Henderson this time out, he might look to be more aggressive and push the pace early on, however this strategy might play right into the hands of Thatch.
Brandon Thatch will take a significant height, reach and strength advantage into the fight. The striking specialist will undoubtedly look for the knockout early, his highly offensive style has looked unstoppable thus far in the UFC. If he can land early and often on Benson he may send the former champion back to his native lightweight division. However Thatch is untested in the deep waters of a five round fight, the longer this fight lasts, the better it is for Henderson.
I see this fight going either of two ways, a first round knockout for Thatch or a five round decision for Henderson. Benson needs to be smart early on, he needs to avoid the big power of Thatch and hope to tire his opponent out. Coming back from a long lay off on front of his hometown crowd, Thatch may very well suffer a major adrenaline dump after the first round, if he can’t put Benson away early, this may be a very long night for the welterweight prospect. I see Henderson’s top level experience and endless cardio making the difference here.
Pick: Benson Henderson via decision.
Max Holloway VS. Cole Miller
Back in 2013 Max Holloway was the second man to face Conor McGregor inside the octagon. He lasted all three rounds against the ACL-injured McGregor but lost a lopsided decision. Since then he has been unstoppable, the 23 year old Hawaii native has won four fights in a row with four finishes. He faces Cole Miller, a man who was also supposed to fight Conor McGregor but who pulled out due to a thumb injury. Miller competed on the fifth season of the ultimate fighter back in 2007 and has been a UFC mainstay ever since. He is 3-1 is his last four fights but hasn’t competed since January 2014 due to injury.
Holloway has decent wrestling and slick jiu-jitsu to go along with his impressive and ever evolving stand up game. At 23 years old he is still improving and looks better each and every time he steps into the octagon. He’s aggressive while still remaining calculated and he feels comfortable wherever the fight goes. Max will look to push the pace early and avoid the takedowns of Miller, his combination of youth, talent and confidence will give anyone at 145 pounds a tough night.
Cole’s UFC record is up and down over the last few years, however his losses tend to be close decisions. There is no secret as to what he will look to do, he wants to get the fight to the ground early and often and look for another submission win to add to his current UFC total of seven. Miller is good off his back and strong on top, with long limbs and a varied arsenal of submissions, he has previous wins via triangle, guillotine, kimura and rear naked choke.
Miller will not be intimidated by the young surging Hawaiian, being the underdog will only add fuel to his competitive fire and I think Holloway might be in trouble if he can’t defend the take down. That being said this is most definitely Holloway’s fight to lose. Cole is tough and won’t be finished easy, but I see Max’s stand up overwhelming the veteran inside the distance.
Pick: Max Holloway via KO
Neil Magny VS. Kiichi Kunimoto – Magny via decision.
Dan Kelly VS. Patrick Walsh – Kelly via decision.
Michel Prazeres VS. Kevin Lee – Lee via submission.
Ray Borg VS. Chris Kelades – Borg via Submission.
Nik Lentz VS. Levan Makashvili – Lentz.
Efrain Escudero VS. Rodrigo de Lima – Escudero.
Chas Skelly VS. Jim Alers – Skelly.
Zach Makovsky VS. Tim Elliott – Makovsky.
James Moontasri VS. Cody Pfister – Pfister.
Fight of the night: Benson Henderson VS. Brandon Thatch.
Performance bonuses: Max Holloway and Ray Borg.
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