It always struck me how quickly people dismissed Anderson Silva's brutally clear cut KO loss to Weidman but used Ben Henderson's loss by quick armbar to completely forget his run to the title and subsequent defenses. Somehow, Dana, used this to justify that Henderson needed to work his way back to a title shot.
People began to forget how dominant Benson Henderson was at lightweight until his razor thin decision wins defending the belt several times.
I like Thompson, and despite whatever psych-out-mind-games he may be playing by saying he's had a terrible camp, he looked absolutely sharp picking apart Nate Diaz, sticking to a game plan and capitalizing after lulling the younger Stockton bad boy into being overly aggressive. It was mind blowing to see Nate Diaz finished so emphatically and a credit to Thomson experience and killer instinct.
I still think Benson will grind out Thompson by cutting off the ring, getting him down, and wearing him out with superior wrestling. Thomson has shown the willingness to showboat/flash dance run to avoid having the ring cut off, but Benson has a penetrating shot at times, and I'm sure he's been working on pressing the pace to get the takedown at least 3 out of 5 rounds. I think Thomson in a desperate scramble to get to his feet as he is down on rounds will give up his back and find himself submitted.
Benson Henderson by submission, Rd 4.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs Stipe Miocic
Gonzaga is a guy that comes in some nights and is a world beater juggernaut. Other nights he gets caught early and goes to sleep. His resume has some impressive names on it either in winning or losing. Stipe, I think, will wilt under the onslaught that is Gonzaga. I would NOT bet money on this fight, b/c Gonzaga is always a punch away from getting "rocked" and put away. However, I think Gonzaga takes this one with a monster right hand.
Gonzaga by bazooka right hand, Rd 1.
Darren Elkins vs Jeremy Stephens
Jeremy Stephens because I have seen more of his fights. Elkins probably deserves more credit than that as he holds wins of Siler, Brandao, and Hioki coupled with a loss to Chad Mendes (one of several guys kaboshed by Mendes). Stephens comes in with back to back wins following a loss by TKO to Yves Edwards. Stephens has only lost to guys with names like Cerrone, Pettis, and Edwards. I don't see Elkins having the pedigree to add his name to that list.
Stephens by Decision, Rd 3.
Donald Cerrone vs Adriano Martins
Cerrone admitted as much as taking this fight because he is financially broke because he spends money as fast as he gets it. Cerrone is a guy that like Gonzaga shows up looking like a world beater some nights, then looks listless or even broken other nights (Diaz, Pettis). I still think Cerrone takes this one with grit. I haven't seen enough of Martins fights to place him over Cerrone, but Cerrone's penchant to simply walk forward expecting to steamroll a guy could land him in serious trouble as Martins is no spring chicken in the fight game.
Cerrone by Decision, Rd 3.
Alex Caceres vs Sergio Pettis
The younger Pettis is getting a stern test in his UFC debut but a fight that stylistically he should win. Caceres is crafty and has some submission wins but his striking is less than dangerous, and Pettis should grind out a win here. Everyone loves an older brother champ/younger brother contender storyline but I'm glad the UFC didn't give him some no name in his debut that was a complete softball but rather gave him a match-up with a guy who surprised many of us and got some wins on the big stage after graduating from TUF.
Pettis by Decision, Rd 3.
Yves Jabouin vs Eddie Wineland
Jabouin has proven dangerous and exciting to watch throughout his career, as is the case with Eddie Wineland. Jabouin prefers a more diverse striking attack while Wineland is more boxing oriented. Jabouin has falter against steps up in competition as with Raphael Assuncao and more recently Brad Pickett. Wineland has looked increasingly sharp his last few fights in terms of counter-wrestling and his punching combinations as well as a rapier like jab.
Wineland also suffers from the "lose to former champs or contenders or current champ"-it is in his losses to Joseph Benavidez, Urijah Faber, and Renan Barao most recently. Does he have the chops to win the belt? Doubtful. Does he produce fan-friendly fights for undercards with a lot of striking for the "Just Bleed" and "Stand and Bang" variety of MMA/UFC fan? absolutely.
I see Wineland taking this one simply because the losses on his resume come from better guys with tougher, more impressive resumes themselves.
Wineland by Decision, Rd 3.
Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson