UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez main-card preview for Saturday night

April 19, 2013

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UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez main-card preview for Saturday night



John Boldrick – UFC versus Strikeforce fights will come to a head this Saturday as UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez takes place in San Jose, California. All four main card fights feature the promotion versus promotion dynamic and will also feature the highest ranked fighters. There are former UFC champions versus Strikeforce grand prix winners and even a title unification of sorts. Previously, Dan Hardy had been scheduled to compete on the card. He has been scratched because of a previously unnoticed heart condition. Thankfully, the UFC was able to find a replacement and an exciting on at that.

Our main event for the evening is a title unification bout. Benson Henderson has been perfect in his UFC career. He’s 6-0 and along the way captured the lightweight championship. While the reign hasn’t always been smooth sailing (think the Frankie Edgar fights) Henderson looked unstoppable last time, using his sheer size and wrestling to beat Nate Diaz. Here, Henderson faces another Cesar Gracie fighter. The owner of strong wrestling and an un-chokeable neck, Henderson should look to bully his opponent and wear him out. He’s not known for his striking, but Henderson has some harsh leg kicks to keep his opponents off balance.

It’s quite an octagon debut for Gilbert Melendez. Not only will it be a headlining spot, but Melendez’s first fight will be on network TV and a title fight. The longest reigning Strikeforce lightweight champion, Melendez is currently on a seven fight winning streak and hasn’t lost since a 2008 bout with Josh Thompson.  The owner of 11 (T) KO wins, Melendez would likely prefer to keep this fight standing. A BJJ brown belt, Melendez only has one win via submission, and will be hard pressed to make Henderson number two. It will be the 31 year-olds first fight in eleven months. He was previously scheduled to face Pat Healy before injuries put a stop to the bout.

Our co-main features one of the UFC’s most experienced heavyweights Frank Mir. A longtime roster member, Mir hasn’t fought outside the octagon since 2001. His career has seen a mix of ups and downs, but on Saturday, Mir will no doubt be looking for another up. In his last fight, Mir suffered a TKO loss to Junior Dos Santos. The loss cut short Mir’s three fight win streak. A highly skilled BJJ player, Mir owns nine submission victories by seven different methods. While the black belt is clearly dangerous, he has had some struggles against high level wrestlers. There is also a question if Mir can take the fight to the ground if he needs to.

His opponent, making his UFC debut, is Daniel Cormier. Originally an alternate in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix, Cormier was inserted into the tourney after an injury to Alistair Overeem. Cormier shocked the world that night, knocking out Bigfoot Silva and moving onto the finals of the grand prix, where he easily defeated former UFC champion Josh Barnett. A two time member of the US Olympic wrestling team and multi time gold medalist at the US wrestling championships, Cormier will have no problem getting the fight to the ground if he wants to. The AKA gym member has also done pretty well on the feet, as it’s clearly he has the power to finish fights.

In his last fight, Nate Diaz dropped a decision to Ben Henderson after five grueling rounds. In that fight, Diaz showed that his BJJ was no match for the overwhelming size and wrestling of the champion. Here, we will see if the result changes when he faces someone a little closer to his own size. A fighter who used to bounce between weight classes, Diaz seems much more at home at lightweight. Before the loss to Henderson, he was on a three fight win streak and had looked amazing. One thing about Diaz is that he can win fights wherever they go, as he has some slick hands to go along his BJJ black belt. He may never get a one punch KO, but the volume of punches Diaz throws can be too much for any fighter.

A UFC return that has been in the making for some time is finally happening on Saturday. Josh Thompson’s last UFC fight was in 2004, but now he’s back and ready to make his mark. Perhaps best known inside the octagon for being knocked out at the hands of Yves Edwards, Thompson went 10-4 under the Strikeforce banner but is just 1-2 in his last three. He beat KJ Noons but dropped decisions to Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri. A known wrestler and submission fighter, look for Thompson to take down and control his opponent while looking for the finish.

Once a man on the verge of being cut, Matt Brown is no longer the same. Since a 1-4 stretch in 2010-2011, Brown has rattled off four straight wins to not only save his job, but put him in the running for a top ten opponent. Known as a man who likes to brawl, Brown has stopped three of four opponents with strikes on his current streak. In his last fight, Brown KO’ed Mike Swick in December. If there is a flaw in The Immortal it would have to be his ground game, as Brown has been submitted nine times in his career.

Brown’s opponent is the final UFC 158 alumni on the card, Canadian Jordan Mein. Young Gun burst onto the UFC scene with a first round finish of Dan Miller at the event, becoming the first fighter to stop the durable Miller. A former Strikeforce fighter, Mein already has a 35 fight resume at just 23 years old. It’s clear that the youngster likes to brawl, especially while using elbows, but the smarter game plan might be to take Brown down. Mein has seven submission victories on his record, but hasn’t tapped anyone since early 2011.

 

Main Card

–          UFC Lightweight Championship: Benson Henderson © vs. Gilbert Melendez

–          Frank Mir vs. Daniel Cormier

–          Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thompson

–          Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein

Televised Prelims (FX, Sportsnet)

–          Chad Mendes vs. Darren Elkins

–          Francis Carmont vs. Lorenz Larkin

–          Ramsey Nijem vs. Myles Jury

–          Joseph Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama

–          Tim Means vs. Jorge Masvidal

–          T.J. Dillashaw vs. Hugo Vianna

Facebook Prelims

–          Anthony Njokuani vs. Roger Bowling

–          Clifford Starks vs. Yoel Romero

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