UFC 139: Shogun vs Henderson – Preview and Predictions

The UFC events keep on coming and this weekend brings us a fantastic card. There are no titles on the line, but a few matches with title implications will play out. The headline fight sees Dan Henderson return to the UFC to face the World #2 at Light Heavyweight, Mauricio Shogun Rua. Both men are fresh of huge wins, with Rua destroying Griffin at UFC Brazil and Henderson doing the same to the legend that is Fedor (and moving up to Heavyweight to do so). Dana White said a while ago that the winner of this fight will move into line for a title shot. Since making that statement, we have seen Rashad get injured and drop out of title contention once more, with Jones facing Machida at the next UFC event. Anything can happen in the UFC and a stunning performance from either fighter here, might see Rashad moved down the pack once more. I guess we’ll wait and see how it all pans out.

UFC 139 marks the UFC debut of SanShou specialist Cung Le, facing off against the veteran Wanderlei Silva. Silva’s UFC run has been patchy but he remains a firm favourite with MMA fans. Cung Le does not fight often, preferring to concentrate more on his movie career. At 39 years of age time isnt on his side, but with his amazing striking he is a tough fight for anyone. Third billing on the card is given to two former champions. Featherweight standout Urijah Faber earned a title shot after two wins at 135lbs. He was soundly defeated by the champion Dominick Cruz, the same man who ripped the 135lb crown from Fabers opponent Brian Bowles. Both men need this win if they are to achieve their aim of a follow-up title-shot.

Ok peeps, let’s get it on!

Undercard – available on facebook
Danny Castillo 11-4-0 vs. Shamar Bailey 12-4-0 – Lightweight
Both Castillo and Bailey are looking to get back to winning ways in the UFC after dropping decision losses to Volkmann and Dunham respectively in their last Octagon outing. Castillo is the bookies favourite here and has certainly faced a higher level of opposition. He welcomed Dustin Poirier to the WEC and is still the only loss on “Diamonds” resume thus far. In Bailey, he will face a decent wrestler and former TUF competitor at 170lbs who is a protege of UFC legend Chris Lytle. Unfortunately for Bailey, Castillo works day in, day out with a much higher calibre of wrestler at Team Alpha male. Bailey hasn’t shown a lot in his previous fights other than a sound – if underwhelming – wrestling game. Castillo is certainly the better striker of the two men and looks to have the more rounded out game. Bailey’s best hope here is to leg hump his way to a decision and on past performance he is not above doing just that. But I think Castillo has too much for him and should comfortably take this in the eyes of the judges. Neither man is ready for the upper-tier of the 155lbs shark tank in the UFC, but of the two, Castillo looks the far more likely to make the grade in the future. Castillo decision

Matt Brown 12-10-0 vs. Seth Baczynski 14-6-0 – Welterweight
Matt Brown is a fighter with a patchy record, who if you just look at the numbers shouldn’t really be in the UFC. But he is the kind of fighter Dana (and the fans love) as he just brings it. He has a balls out scrappy style and will go toe-to-toe with anyone. He snapped a three fight losing streak (all by submission) with a decision win against John Howard. This was only the second time in 22 fights he has gone the distance. Baczynski, like Brown, is a TUF alumni and left the competition for the second time (after initially losing to mcGee and then replacing an injured fighter) when he was DQ’d for soccer kicking Brad Tavares in their match. He rematched Tavares in the UFC “proper” at the TUF finale and dropped a decision. Since then he has gone on a 3 fight tear, with two fights outside the UFC and the third being a submission win over Clay Harvison. Baczynski seems to favour the ground with 9 of his wins coming by submission. Submission savvy opponents seem to be Browns kryptonite and while Baczynski is definitely not in the league of Almeida, Lytle and Foster, he will certainly have the edge on the ground. The question will be whether he can survive Browns onslaught on the feet. Neither men go to the judges often and this one will probably be decided before the 15 minutes is up. Does Brown blast out Baczynski or does he fall to another submission loss? Either outcome is as likely as the other, but since I have to make a pick, I will take a shot in the dark on Brown. Brown TKO rd 2

Nick Pace 6-2-0 vs. Miguel Torres 38-4-0 – Bantamweight
On paper this is a huge mismatch, but Torres has struggled of late and has looked a shell of his former self since coming to the UFC. This is a massive opportunity for Pace to get a real name on his record and if ever there was a good time for a relatively green fighter like him to face Torres, it is now, when the former champs star might well be fading. That being said, this also presents a great opportunity for Torres to get a bit of confidence back in his game and post a convincing win, as Pace is way below the level of opponent Torres has faced up to now. Pace hasn’t been given an easy ride in the UFC and it isn’t getting easier for him on saturday. He is a decent grappler but Torres should be leagues ahead of him. He doesn’t possess any of the skills of the opponents that have given Torres such a tough time recently… elite wrestling? Nope! One shot KO power? Nope! Granted Pace has never been stopped, but he hasn’t exactly fought a who’s who of MMA’s 135lb elite like Torres has. If Pace can nick this one from Torres he deserves all the plaudits he gets, I personally don’t see that as being a remotely likely outcome and think Torres gets this done early with a signature submission. Torres Submission Rd 1

Gleison Tibau 23-7-0 vs. Rafael dos Anjos 15-5-0 – Lightweight
This is one of the highlights of the undercard and will be an excellent contest. Tibau is a ridiculous size for a lightweight and reportedly comes into the octagon pretty close to the middleweight limit on fight night. This makes him a tough fight for anyone in the division and he has been sniffing around the top level in the division for a while now. A win here definitely puts him in amongst the title contenders and in line for a big fight. Dos Anjos started his UFC career underwhelmingly with a big KO loss to Jeremy Stephens in his debut and a subesequent hard fought decision loss against Tyson Griffin. He then posted 3 wins on the trot, before a jaw injury against Clay Guida forced him to submit early in the third round of their entertaining fight. He most recently posted a big KO win over a faltering George Sotiripoulos, a fighter who at one point looked to be a shoe-in for a title shot himself. Both Tibau and Dos Anjos are BJJ blackbelts and Joe Rogan will no doubt be salivating over the grappling exchanges if and when this hits the mat. Neither man is a knock-out artist or striking specialist but both can hold their own against low to mid-tier strikers. The edge in wrestling though has to go to Tibau, and it is this edge that could prove to be the X-Factor in the fight. This coupled with his huge size advantage should make it a pretty tough night for Dos Anjos in one of the fights of the night. Tibau decision

Chris Weidman 6-0-0 vs. Tom Lawlor 7-3-0 (1 NC) – Middleweight
Weidman has exploded out of nowhere to become one of the most hyped prospects in MMA. A former NCAA all-american at Hofstra university and jiujitsu protege of Matt Serra, he qualified for the ADCC in 2009 after only a year of jiujitsu training and gave current ADCC absolute champion a really tough match. He has a perfect 6-0-0 record and has sailed through his two debut UFC fights, decisioning mean striker Alessio Sakara in his debut and nearly popping Jesse Bongfeldts head off at UFC 131. Tom Lawlor has been around a while longer, but is in for a very tough night come saturday. Believe the hype ladies and gentlemen, Weidman is a baaaaad man and I fully expect him to put in another great performance against a game Lawlor and continue his march through the ranks at 185lbs. Lawlor, unforunately for him, can do everything Weidman can do…. just not as well. It is for this reason that I see Weidman wrapping this up inside the distance. Weidman submission rd 2

Aired Prelims
Michael McDonald 13-1-0 vs. Alex Soto 6-0-1 – Bantamweight
McDonald comes into this one as a big favourite against the debuting Soto after two decent performances in the Octagon so far. He was the youngest fighter on the Zuffa roster when he signed for the WEC aged 19. He turned pro at 16 and had been kickboxing since age 10. Prior to his UFC tenure, he finished all his fights inside the distance with his lone loss coming to Cole Escovedo. Soto, bizarrely, is a former Infantryman and currently trains dolphins for the American Navy (if his wikipedia entry is to be believed). He took this fight on pretty late notice, replacing Johnny Eduardo. Making his debut at such late notice, may well go against Soto in this fight. Whilst he is definitely talented, I think McDonald takes this one on the feet inside the distance for his first finish inside the Octagon. McDonald TKO rd 2

Ryan Bader 12-2-0 vs. Jason Brilz 18-4-1 – Light Heavyweight
This is a must win fight for both fighters. Baders shock loss to Tito Ortiz, followed a battering at the hands of Jon Jones and now he finds himself battling for relevance in a division where he was once a heavily favoured prospect. I think it would be wrong to say he took Ortiz lightly, but I do think he expected to win the fight and wasn’t expecting to get pressured early doors. Brilz put in an outstanding performance against L’il Nog in a fight I thought he won, but he dropped the decision, gaining a lot of respect after the event. However he was then destroyed by veteran Matyushenko in 20 seconds and so ended the shortest UFC hype-train ever. This match heavily favours Bader in my opinion. He is bigger, stronger a better wrestler and hits harder than Brilz and I can see him taking this fight pretty comfortably. Any notions of an easy win in the UFC will have been wiped away for him after the Ortiz fight and he will be hungry to impress in this fight, he’ll come out of the blocks strong and will overwhelm Brilz en-route to a late stoppage. Bader TKO rd 3

Main Card
Stephan Bonnar 13-7-0 vs. Kyle Kingsbury 11-2-0 (1 NC) – Light Heavyweight
While his former TUF 1 nemesis Griffin has continued to fight at the highest levels in the weight class, Bonnar has found himself fighting lower to mid-level guys and seems to be taking a bit of a gatekeeper role in the division. He will provide a good test for rising prospect Kingsbury, who since his debut loss to Tom Lawlor has gone 4 fights unbeaten with 2 fight of the night bonuses to his name. Kingsbury, like Bonnar, is tough as they come and he probably edges the wrestling game in this fight. Bonnar will have no problem standing toe-to-toe and throwing down with his opponent and this should be a great fight to open the main portion of the event. I can see this one going the distance, with the nod going to Kingsbury on the judges cards. Kingsbury decision

Rick Story 13-4-0 vs. Martin Kampmann 17-5-0 – Welterweight
This is a great fight in the 170lbs division. A convincing win on Saturday for either man gives them a legitimate claim at throwing their name in the hat for contendership fights. Kampmann is looking to prove a point aftersuffering defeat at the hands of Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez, both of which were close decisions that could easily have gone his way. The Dane is a great all round fighter, with crisp striking, solid wrestling and a very handy ground game. Story was on a march in the division until a shock defeat to Charlie Brenneman who came in as a late replacement for Anthony Johnson and capitalised on the opportunity. Story has great wrestling, a rock solid chin and will trade with anyone. No one expected him to stand with Thiago Alves, but stand he did and he took the decision whilst showcasing his great chin and dangerous wrestling. While Story should be more than capable of putting Kampmann on his back, if Kampmann executes a smart gameplan, he can control the distance with his precision striking limiting the takedown opportunities of his opponent. He does have decent takedown defence, but if he leaves himself too open and does get taken down, he is savvy enough to be able to get up off his back. I can see this being an exciting back-and-forth battle, but fancy Kampmann to edge it with a slight edge on the feet. Kampmann decision

Urijah Faber 25-5-0 vs. Brian Bowles 10-1-0 – Bantamweight
Former champion Bowles has had a pretty torrid time with injuries throughout his career, but has managed to get two fights in this year. He is a solid wrestler with massive power in his hands and a strong submission game. He is really up against it with Faber though, who will be the bigger, stronger and far more athletic of the two. But for his first ever career loss against Tyson Griffin, all Fabers 4 subesquent losses have been in title fights and 3 of those 4 were decisions. Only Mike Brown and Griffin have stopped him inside the distance. Bowles will no doubt have a punchers chance, especially with the lethal power he possesses, but betting on Faber being KO’d is an outside punt at best. The thing is, if Bowles doesn’t KO him, he won’t win this match. I can’t see him besting Faber in scrambles on the floor and if he can’t land that fight ending punch, this will only end in a win for the former Featherweight champion and another shot at the Bantamweight gold for the California Kid. Faber decision

Wanderlei Silva 33-11-1 (1 NC) vs. Cung Le 7-1-0 – Middleweight
This is an intriguing match up and actually pretty tough to call. Wanderlei Silva is an absolute legend of the game, and despite taking some heavy losses recently, he is still game to go up against the best. Cung Le is one of, if not the best, kicker in MMA. But he does not possess a very rounded skill set. His strength lies in his ability to land powerful kicks from the outside and not let his opponents get inside on him. Le though, is 39 years old and has a flourishing movie career which has been his main focus in recent years: He has only fought once a year since 2008. If Le wins it will probably signal the end of Silva’s career. If Silva wins, there aren’t too many other fights out there for him that makes sense and it may well still be his last fight in the UFC, but at least he’ll go out on a high. This one will come down to Silvas ability to get inside and fight the kind of fight he likes, slugging it out in the pocket and launching devastating attacks from the clinch. If he cannot get past Le’s dazzling array of kicks, he is going to get picked off and the cumulative effect of those heavy strikes to his body and legs will take its toll. It is a pretty safe bet that we won’t see too much ground action in this one, but with Silva possessing a BlackBelt in BJJ, we could see the unthinkable and witness a submission victory for the axe murderer – never say never! I am still pretty undecided on this one, but I am leaning towards Le for some reason, as much as I would love to see Wandy come away with the victory. Le TKO rd 2

Dan Henderson 28-8-0 vs. Mauricio Rua 20-5-0 – Light Heavyweight
An awesome headline fight with very real title implications rounds out the card. This should be a fantastic match up and the return of Henderson to the UFC really shakes up the top level of the division. Both men are more than capable of taking the win here, and a lot will depend on Rua’s performance as he does tend to blow hot and cold sometimes. If Henderson can tough at an early barrage from the Brazilian the fight will start to favour him as it drags on, especially as headline fights in the UFC are all 5 rounders now, whether for a title or not. Rua has a penchant for big KO wins and despite having a black belt in BJJ has only won by submission once in his entire career. Henderson has never been knocked out and the two fighters, on numbers and past performance alone, would appear to cancel each other out. Of course, that is unlikely to be the case on the night and someone will have to win, and I am leaning towards Henderson. His solid chin should see him through the early part of the fight and then he should be able to use his wrestling to tire Shogun and take advantage of his often suspect conditioning. I think Henderson lands the “H Bomb” late on in the fight and takes out a fading Shogun. Hendo vs Jones?? Yes please!!! Henderson TKO rd 4

******************* UPDATED WITH RESULTS **********************
Bailey vs. Castillo – My Pick: Castillo decision Actual: Castillo TKO rd 1
Brown vs. Baczynski – My Pick: Brown T/KO rd 2 Actual: Baczynski submission (guillotine) rd 2
Torres vs. Pace – My Pick: Torres sub rd 1 Actual: Torres decision
Tibau vs. Rafael dos Anjos – My Pick: Tibau decision Actual: Tibau decision
Lawlor vs. Wediman – My Pick: Weidman sub rd 2 Actual: Weidman submission (D’arce) Rd 1
McDonald vs. Soto – My Pick: McDonald TKO rd 2 Actual: McDonald KO rd 1
Bader vs. Brilz – My Pick: Bader TKO rd 3 Actual: Bader KO rd 1
Bonnar vs. Kingsbury – My Pick: Kingsbury decision Actual: Bonnar decision
Kampmann vs. Story – My Pick: Kampmann decision Actual: Kampmann decision
Faber vs. Bowles – My Pick: Faber decision Actual: Faber submission (guillotine) rd 2
Silva vs. Le – My Pick: Le TKO rd 2 Actual: Silva TKO rd 2
Henderson vs. Rua – My Pick: Henderson TKO rd 4 Actual: Henderson decision


One comment on “UFC 139: Shogun vs Henderson – Preview and Predictions

  1. I also like faber for the win against bowles but think bowles deserves a bit more credit for this fight, i think he has a good chance against faber and cud defo pull off the win on the night.

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