That’s right boys and girls, Danny Boy Downes here to deliver you from the darkness with another edition of the Downes Side. Now I’m sure many of you are concerned with how my nuptials progressed, but fear no more. The entire sacrament was a resounding success. Not only did I manage to stay sober for (most of) the ceremony, but I was only the second most embarrassing white guy on the dance floor.
The UFC is back in the Mile-High City this weekend for an event that can only hope to feature more significant strikes than my wedding reception. The main event features lightweight champion Benson Henderson as he defends his belt against Frankie Edgar, a man who's had more sequels than the Land Before Time movie. Regardless of the outcome, if we hold on together, I’m sure it’ll be a great night.
Justin Lawrence (4-0) vs Max Holloway (5-1)
The main card begins with a featherweight contest between Justin “The American Kidd” Lawrence and Max “Blessed" Holloway. A kickboxer with power to equal his ego, Lawrence made a successful UFC debut at the TUF Finale against fellow TUF Live cast member John Cofer. Holloway showcased his boxing ability with a decision win over Pat Schilling at the same event.
Neither one of these guys will bother taking this fight to the ground, so expect it to be a tale of two striking styles. Lawrence is a power puncher who throws single, hard shots; Holloway has less power, but throws more combos and targets the body. Provided the drop from light to featherweight doesn't faze the 22-year-old, Lawrence’s one-punch power will be the difference here. He’ll withstand a number of Holloway’s attacks, get the KO in the third and prove that his UFC career will be much more successful than the show Brotherly Love.
Yushin Okami (26-7) vs Buddy Roberts (12-2)
We move to the middleweight division for Yushin “Thunder” Okami and Buddy Roberts. Roberts has just one Octagon bout under his belt: a decision over Caio Magalhaes, plus one almost-fight scrapped in February when his opponent was injured backstage minutes before their fight. But Buddy got a big step up after his booked opponent for UFC 150 and Okami's (Brazilian leg-destroyer Rousimar Palhares) were both injured. Okami is out to find the right track after losses to Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch (in "The Barbarian's" comeback-of-the-year performance at UFC 144).
While Okami's inabilty to finish cost him against Boetsch, Roberts doesn’t have the same night-ending power. Roberts did show nice defensive wrestling and “sprawl and brawl” in his fight, but Okami is a whole different level. “Thunder” will utilize his jab, get Roberts against the fence, and grind the night away. Roberts will survive the fight, but he’ll probably want to avoid family portraits for the next couple of weeks. Okami by UD
Jake Shields (27-6-1) vs Ed Herman (20-8)
We stay in the middleweight division for Jake Shields and Ed “Short Fuse” Herman. After a disappointing stint at welterweight, Shields returns to the 185-lb division for the first time since defending his Strikeforce title in 2009. Herman has been on a tear of his own -- after a knee injury kept him out of the Octagon for almost two years, he's finished his last three opponents and looks to be at the top of his game.
Herman’s aggressive style seems to play right into Shields' usual method of attack. While he does stay active and attack his grounded opponents, Shields isn't exactly known for inflicting damage. His cardio has also hurt him on a number of occasions -- if only he had as much stamina as I did on my wedding night. The move back up to middleweight will give him more in the gas tank, but he’ll still fade by the third, especially considering the bout's at high altitude (which may be why there are no guys bigger than 185 on the card... remember UFC 135's heavyweight fiascos?!). This will give Herman a distinct edge as the fight wears on, but it’ll be too little, too late. Shields wins 29-28
Donald Cerrone (18-4) vs Melvin Guillard (30-10-2)
Next up is the much-anticipated lightweight bout between Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard. Former teammates, the fight looks to be as entertaining as the buddy cop pilot they filmed a couple years ago (or should have, anyway). After two straight first-round submission losses, Guillard showed a bit more patience in his fight against Fabricio Camoes at UFC 148, working his way to a UD victory. After losing to Nate Diaz, Cowboy picked apart Jeremy Stephens in May and is now clamoring for a fight against Anthony Pettis.
Seeing Melvin abandon the “only flying knees” strategy he used against Jim Miller is definitely a sign of progress, but he still has work to do to beat Cowboy. “The Young Assassin” does have the speed and footwork advantage, but he also has a penchant for throwing single shots. I’ve never understood Cowboy's coming-right-atcha footwork but it’s hard to argue with results. Walking straight into the fire hurt him against Diaz, but it’s the best strategy against Guillard. Melvin struggles when people get in his face and it causes him to make mental mistakes. Add in that Guillard wasn't able to make weight for this bout, and his confidence could already be shaky. Though Melvin is now working with the Blackzilians, his submission defense still has to be called into question. Cowboy will get in Melvin’s face, force him to panic and open the door to a 3rd-round submission.
Benson Henderson (16-2) vs Frankie Edgar (14-2-1)
That brings us to the main event of the evening. After a closely contested fight in February, Edgar utilized the patented “I had to do it, why shouldn’t he?” strategy to earn himself a rematch for the lightweight title. That never worked for me with my mom growing up, but Dana White listened and gave the NJ native just what he wanted. After losing his title at WEC 53, "Smooth" Benson Henderson has run a gauntlet through the UFC with wins over notables such as Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Mark Bocek and this guy Frankie Edgar.
The battered-looking Edgar may have lost the UFC 144 bout convincingly if it were held under Stockton rules, but it was a much closer contest than a superficial glance would suggest. The rematch will be equally back-and-forth. Edgar will mix up strikes and takedowns; he’ll even get Henderson on the mat. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to keep him there. On the feet, Bendo will bring the single-shot power to land more significant strikes. It’ll be another close one, but Smooth takes it by split.
That wraps up another ontologically perfect edition of the Downes Side. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes and leave some comments, thoughts and favorite Land Before Time memory on the page, too. I still can’t believe what happened to Littlefoot’s mom....
The Downes Side: UFC 150 Predictions
UFC/WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 150, taking place Saturday, August 11