UFC Fight Night Henderson vs. Thatch Preview and Picks: MMA Spotlight

UFC

Off to Colorado the UFC goes! Former lightweight champion, Benson Henderson, makes the jump to welterweight to face off with his stiffest opponent to date, rising star Brandon Thatch. There are really no star-studded fights to take note of, but a bunch of solid, very competitive match ups throughout the whole card. Max Holloway occupy the co main event, with four additional fights beforehand to kickoff the UFC main card. With some exciting sleeper bouts, and a main event to bring the masses to its feet, Broomfield, Colorado is in for a crazy night!

Benson Henderson (21-5) vs. Brandon Thatch (11-1) Welterweight Bout – No better way to bounce back from a loss then to get back into a UFC cage in a months notice and against a much larger opponent right? Not many would be hard pressed to deny Henderson a quick trip back to the octagon after suffering his third loss in a row by a narrow split decision, but thinking rationally may have been the better option here. Thatch may have been slowed by injuries leading up to Saturday, but make no mistake about it, he could very well be the next big thing in the welterweight division. Henderson has had issues recently with being pressured by opponents, and Thatch thrives in that exact area when he fights. Once the Colorado native corners his opponent, he unleashes the pain in every aspect. Knees come in abundance inside the clinch, bombs are rained down at will with separation, not to mention a sneaky high kick or two in the process. Thatch can be a force to be reckoned with in the UFC, whether he becomes one or not has everything to do with how he recovers from his injuries. Henderson was a champion, a scrapper among the best, and is doing the UFC a huge solid stepping in on late notice to save the card; but a step up against someone like “Rukus” is not what the doctor ordered. Brandon Thatch via Technical Knockout.

#13 Max Holloway (13-3) vs. Cole Miller (21-8) Featherweight Bout – Oh that cage rust, UFC fighters do not like to admit it, but it sure does play a key factor when the MMA Spotlight picks its bouts. Miller fought only once in 2014, in which was over a year ago, what Miller may be able to bring into the 2015 year has yet to be seen. Max Holloway on the other hand, is riding a four fight win streak all by finish. Since his loss to McGregor, Holloway has become one the brightest up and coming fighters in the featherweight division. Miller will be sure to use his reach like he always does, and his phenomenal submission game if it goes to the ground, finishing fights standing is his biggest issue. Holloway should be able to walk through the volume of Miller and tag him with something worthy of a highlight on ESPN, but something just screams decision here. Miller has only been finished by strikes in his career twice, and one should doubt he is willing to go out that way after a year-long layoff. Either way Holloway should be too much for him as the fight progresses. Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision.

Neil Magny (13-4) vs. Kiichi Kunimoto (18-5-2) Welterweight Bout – This should be Neil Magny’s fight to lose here, key word is should be. A five fight win streak, with two technical knockouts during the streak, many would figure the man would deserve a shot into the top 15 in the division, the UFC obviously had other plans. Kunimoto is not a very liable threat to knock off Magny, and should be a long shot at winning this fight. The Japanese fighter is a grappler at heart, and will be reaching in for the take downs early in this fight, Magny will need to use his reach to keep this fight standing. Kunimoto’s game plan will be predictable, and beatable, when the night is over. Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision.

Dan Kelly (8-0) vs. Patrick Walsh (5-2) Middleweight Bout – Flip a coin on this one, neither really have an upper hand on the other, and neither are very well-rounded fighters. Kelly is a Judo Olympian, yet his striking sells him short quite often; Walsh is the better striker, but does not have quite the grappling resume Kelly has. One thing is for sure though, both really struggle at mustering up take downs, so a lot of dirty boxing and sub par striking should be on display in this barn burner of a UFC middleweight bout. With no real leg to stand on in this one, this pick nearly does come down to a coin toss that Walsh won. Patrick Walsh via Split Decision.

Michel Prazares (18-1) vs. Kevin Lee (9-1) Lightweight Bout – A wrestler versus a grappler, hopefully a striking bout is made out of this one. Lee is a very well-known wrestler, but has improved his striking, specifically his kicks, during his two fight win streak. Prazares has heavy hands, but is known for tying up his foes, and dragging them to the ground. If Lee could pick up his finishing rate and improve his striking a bit more, he could very well become one to watch in the lightweight division. Prazares inability to finish opponents, and ride out decisions, makes him somewhat less appealing than his opponent in this fight. Kevin Lee via Unanimous Decision.

Ray Borg (7-1) vs. Chris Kelades (8-1) Flyweight Bout – Ray Borg sure does know how to put on a show, the Colorado fans should enjoy this treat as an opening bout. Kelades may be the underdog, but is very dangerous in his own right, and does know how to finish fights if given the opportunity. Ray Borg has the ability and youth to become a contender in the division for years to come, growth and experience will define his UFC career soon enough. As of right now, Borg still has a larger upside then Kelades, and should be able to submit him at some point through a very intriguing bout to open up the main card. Ray Borg via Submission.

In other notable fights on the card, ranked featherweight Nik Lentz gets a UFC newcomer in Levan Makashvili. Also, Zach Makovsky will take on Tim Elliott in an interesting match up between two very talented flyweights. For final UFC results and full analysis, make sure to return to the MMA Spotlight.

Commentary by Justin Huffman
Follow Justin’s coverage in the MMA Spotlight section
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer leading the coverage in MMA

Sources:
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