The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to the Mile High City this Saturday for a 10-fight card that’ll be highlighted by a rematch between Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar and Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson for the UFC lightweight title.
As of Thursday, most betting shops were listing Henderson as a minus-190 favorite with Edgar available at plus-160 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $160 on Edgar).
Henderson (16-2 MMA, 4-0 UFC) won the belt from Edgar at UFC 144 in Japan. ‘Smooth’ won a unanimous decision by scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47.
Since Edgar granted immediate rematches to B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard, he was able to persuade Dana White to do the same for him.
Edgar (14-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) won the belt from Penn at UFC 112 and then defended it against Penn again at UFC 118. After battling Maynard to a majority draw at UFC 125, Edgar finally took down his nemesis with a fourth-round knockout in a thriller at UFC 136.
In the first fight with Henderson, Edgar had a swollen left eye after getting the worst of the stand-up exchanges in the first round. When Edgar got a takedown late in Round 2, he appeared on the verge of winning the stanza until Henderson broke his nose with a gorgeous upkick.
I gave Edgar the third round but the fourth and fifth went to Henderson, who won by a 49-46 count on my card. Henderson’s face was unscathed at the end of the fight, while Edgar was a bloody mess with a left eye nearly swollen shut.
Since losing to Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis at WEC 53, Henderson has collected four decision victories over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller, Clay Guida and Edgar. Eleven of Edgar’s last 13 fights have gone to the judges’ scorecards.
The oddsmakers certainly expect this fight to go the distance, as evidenced by a minus-265 price tag. Gamblers can bet the fight to not go the distance for a plus-205 return (risk $100 to win $205).
Prediction: Both guys have incredible cardio and are tough as nails so I do expect this to go the distance, but I wouldn’t bet on it at the minus-265 price. I like Henderson to win thanks to his advantage in size and strength but with that said, I’m not willing to risk the ‘chalky’ price against a warrior like Edgar. I’ll pass.
In the co-main event, I think we have our favorite to earn Fight of the Night honors. Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone will face Melvin ‘The Young Assassin’ Guillard in what promises to be a stand-up slugfest.
Most spots have made Cerrone a minus-300 ‘chalk’ with Guillard available as a plus-240 underdog.
Cerrone (18-4-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has taken home four bonus checks (two Fights of the Night, one KO of the Night and one Submission of the Night) in his six career Octagon appearances. Cerrone won his first four UFC fights before losing a unanimous decision to Nate Diaz at UFC 141. In a bounce-back spot, ‘Cowboy’ dominated Jeremy Stephens in a unanimous-decision victory.
Cerrone and Guillard used to be teammates and daily sparring partners when both fought out of Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Guillard left that camp to join the Blackzilians in South Florida about a year ago.
Jackson will work Cerrone’s corner for the fight, but he hasn’t been a part of the gameplan or Cerrone’s training for the last month. That’s because Cerrone didn’t want to get credit for winning because of special preparation from a guy in Jackson who worked with Guillard for so long.
Guillard (30-10-2-1 MMA, 11-6 UFC) won five consecutive fights and appeared to be on the cusp of a title shot before getting upset by Joe Lauzon via rear-naked choke in the first minute of Round 1 at UFC 136. The next time out, Guillard had Jim Miller badly hurt in the first minute of their main-event showdown in Nashville.
However, Miller was able to recover and get the fight to the ground where he finished it by rear-naked choke. Guillard bounced back at UFC 148 by capturing a unanimous-decision win over Fabricio Camoes.
This three-round fight has minus-260 odds to not go the distance. A plus-200 payout can be had if the fight goes to the judges.
Prediction: I thought this fight would be a pick ‘em and I’m stunned that Cerrone is an expensive favorite in the minus-300 range. I’m all over Guillard at the generous underdog odds!
Jake Shields (27-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) is moving up to the middleweight division to take on Ed Herman. Most spots are listing Shields as a minus-200 ‘chalk’ with Herman marked as the plus-170 underdog.
After losing back-to-back fights to Georges St-Pierre and Jake Ellenberger, Shields responded with a unanimous-decision win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144.
Herman (20-7 MMA, 7-5 UFC) is looking for his fourth straight win after posting victories over Tim Credeur, Kyle Noke and Clifford Starks.
Prediction: Shields hasn’t been impressive since beating Dan Henderson under the Strikeforce banner in April of 2010. I lean to the underdog and might make a small play on Herman.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Two other fights on the pay-per-view card: Yushin ‘Thunder’ Okami (-600) vs. Buddy Roberts (+450) and Justin Lawrence (-120) vs. Max Holloway (-110).
--There are four fights that’ll be televised for free on FX and one fight that can be viewed on the UFC’s Facebook page.
--With Josh Koscheck pulling out of his UFC 151 co-main event bout versus Jake Ellenberger, the promotion has tabbed Jay Hieron to replace ‘Kos’ against the Omaha native. Koscheck was forced to withdraw due to a bulging disc on his back. Hieron has won 11 of his last 12 fights but is 0-2 in the UFC. He hasn’t fought in the UFC in more than seven years.
--UFC light heavyweight champ Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has signed a lucrative deal with Nike.
--Hector Lombard explained his poor UFC debut performance on his Facebook page on Wednesday, claiming he fought Tim Boetsch (split-decision loss at UFC 149) with a fractured sternum. Lombard says he can’t train for the next six weeks.
Brian Edwards can be reached at email@example.com.
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