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UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Thatch staff picks and predictions

Check out who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking to win every bout on tomorrow night's UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Thatch card in Broomfield, Colorado.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Henderson vs. Brandon Thatch

Anton Tabuena: Thatch will be bigger and will hit harder, but Henderson has faced better strikers and better MMA fighters overall. He'll be significantly faster, more technical, and this won't be anything he hasn't seen before. If Bendo survives the opening salvo, this is his fight to lose. I expect him to employ a smart game plan and cruise to a victory. He can probably get a late submission, but I'm thinking Ben Henderson by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Thatch is a big welterweight with absolutely devastating Muay Thai. Henderson absolutely cannot win this fight standing if he cannot win the clinch battle, and he may very well get knocked out. That said, we've not seen Thatch in a five-round fight, and we've not even seen him past the first few minutes of a bout in ages. Henderson is best served doing everything in his power to tire Thatch out and take away his uber-aggression. This is a very hesitant pick considering Bendo has zero fights at 170, but I'll side with Henderson's "veteran savvy" even on short notice and a huge size disadvantage to take care of Brandon. Basically, Henderson will take the later rounds if he gets that far, but if he can't then that means Thatch kneed his liver into the Rockies. Ben Henderson by unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: I think this largely comes down to just how "done" Bendo is. The Cerrone fight was close enough that I don't cry robbery or anything, so he's on a 2 fight losing streak and 2-3 in his last 5. That's a far cry from the amazing 17-1 run he went on through WEC and the UFC. He's also shown that, at this stage of his career, he struggles against strikers a bit more. Plus, he will be giving up size, which is a tough advantage to give up for a grinder. Man, I came here all ready to go Bendo by dec, but I've now talked myself out of it. Brandon Thatch by KO round 2

Zane Simon: I'm feeling Thatch on this one, but I think this fight will be set in the first round. If Thatch comes out cautious and gives Henderson a lot of space and respect, I think Henderson will be able to establish the pace and take a somewhat ugly decision. If Thatch comes out hard and treats Henderson the way he has everyone else, I think he can break him. Obviously there's a big chance that Thatch gets taken down and can't compete with Henderson on the ground, but a lot of Henderson's grappling these days seems to focus on his opponent initiating. Thatch isn't going to do that, so I Have trouble seeing Bendo really taking the fight there. Brandon Thatch by KO round 2.

Staff picking Henderson: Phil, Anton, Stephie, Rainer, Karim
Staff picking Thatch: Roy, Tim, Fraser, Zane, Mookie

Above: Dallas, Zane and Connor analyze Henderson vs. Thatch

Max Holloway vs. Cole Miller

Anton Tabuena: I don't think Miller can take this to the ground, and standing, he normally beats lesser strikers because of his length. Miller won't have that reach advantage, and Holloway certainly is not that type of striker. I think after a few minutes, Holloway will get to a groove and he will finish Miller. Max Holloway by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Fun match, fun fighters, fun fight ahead of us. Holloway's takedown defense has gotten substantially better, and if he stays upright he will be able to pick Miller apart with his increasingly dangerous striking abilities. Max Holloway by TKO, round 2

Zane Simon: Well, Miller wanted to fight Conor McGregor, so now he's getting the diet version. And that's still a really really good fighter. Holloway has rounded out most of his early career gaps and now has a very nice high pressure, high output kickboxing style that he uses to break opponents as the fight continues. I expect Miller to show his improved hands again, and keep it close in a sort of Lauzon/Iaquinta way, until getting roughed up in the second round, and maybe even knocked out late. Max Holloway by KO, Round 3.

Staff picking Holloway: Phil, Roy, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Rainer, Karim
Staff picking Miller:

Neil Magny vs. Kiichi Kunimoto

Mookie Alexander: Magny's streak is the very definition of "not all streaks are created equally". He's definitely made enough improvements from TUF 16 to stick around the promotion for awhile, but I'm not sold on him having a high, top 10 type of ceiling. Kunimoto's win over Richard Walsh was a robbery and frankly other than the surprise submission over the disappointing Daniel Sarafian, I haven't seen much to suggest he's going to beat someone like Magny. Neil Magny by TKO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Is Neil Magny the best current example of why you should just stay healthy and fight a lot? He's made great technical improvements in his recent run, organically developing his range striking and starting to add in some finishing ability. He's going to win and get paid, and more fighters should follow his example. Neil Magny by TKO, round 2

Zane Simon: If Kunimoto wins this, he deserves some kind of medal. Seriously, nobody has put together as improbable a 3-0 streak as his, nor as flukey. That should come to an end here. Magny is a clear step above Walsh, Sarafian, and Dutra and won't take himself out of the bout. As long as he works his volume range kickboxing style, Kunimoto should be in for a bad night. Neil Magny by TKO, Round 2.

Staff picking Magny: Phil, Roy, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Rainer, Karim
Staff picking Kunimoto:

Patrick Walsh vs. Daniel Kelly

Mookie Alexander: Well ... Walsh missing weight by 5.5 lbs settles the argument for me. Good thing I decided to post the predictions piece after the weigh-ins. Daniel Kelly by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: This is one of those particularly annoying bouts where I flip-flop between my picks, and then my brain gets angry because it doesn't care about this fight at all and hates me for wasting its time. Walsh probably has the more reliable skillset, but Kelly is a bit more dynamic so, uh... DO YOUR JOB, BRAIN... NO, YOU SHUT UP BRAIN, I OWN YOU... Daniel Kelly by unanimous decision

Fraser Coffeen: These are two low level guys from low level seasons of TUF. I can not fathom this being a great fight, or even being on the main card, but here we are. Again, neither man has a strong skillset at all, but Walsh at least has the ability to lay and pray, which often is enough against this level. He also has some pretty bad stand-up though, so for his sake, he better make it boring. Patrick Walsh by decision

Zane Simon: Kelly's style is ugly ugly ugly. He mostly relies on bullying into the clinch where he lands short, wooden punch combinations and then follows it up with a telegraphed takedown into top control. But, it's a style. He fights with a plan and does so consistently. He also seems to be shockingly strong and stumpy, making him harder to deal with than he appears. Walsh can soak up damage, but beyond that he's basically just got an ugly wrestling game. I expect this to end up being the worst kind of kickboxing battle, in the end, at which point I'll give Kelly the edge. Dan Kelly by decision.

Staff picking Walsh: Anton, Fraser
Staff picking Kelly: Phil, Roy, Mookie, Tim, Stephie, Zane, Rainer, Karim

Michel Prazeres vs. Kevin Lee

Mookie Alexander: Lee gets it done against Gleison Tibau's distant cousin. Kevin Lee by unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Interesting matchup between a guy with a relatively limited but powerful and densely packed skillset in Prazeres, and someone with a more diverse approach which is much harder to keep together in Lee. Lee has struggled at times with pressure striking, but his takedown defense has been very solid, so Kevin Lee by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I'd honestly be a bit surprised if Lee wins this. Fighters like Jon Tuck and Jesse Ronson fit much better against Lee's athletic but unrefined skill set. Prazeres is a fighter with a plan and every part of his game flows into every other part. He'll bomb with big shots from the outside, come behind them with a high power double, and then transition straight into side control or mount for a strong top control game. Lee isn't used to facing finished products like Prazeres (even limited ones) and I think he'd need to show a lot more than he has to win here. Michel Prazeres by decision.


Staff picking Prazeres: Zane
Staff picking Lee: Phil, Roy, Tim, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Rainer, Karim

Ray Borg vs. Chris Kelades

Phil Mackenzie: Chris Kelades proved that he's a way better fighter than we gave him credit for being when he beat Patrick Holohan. Unfortunately, he's going to have to defy expectations again: Borg doesn't have Holohan's wacky striking (both a plus and a minus), but he's a more physical and dangerous grappler than the Irishman, and Kelades gave up his back early, which is basically a death sentence against Borg. Kelades deserves better than this, but Ray Borg by submission, round 1.

Zane Simon: Kelades' pocket boxing game and top control grappling should be a good test for Borg, as he wasn't able to quite get past a similar skill set (although better athlete in Dustin Ortiz). This is a fight that Borg has all the natural gifts to win, he's much faster and more dynamic than Kelades, but I don't think Kelades will make it easy on him. Ray Borg by submission, Round 2.

Staff picking Borg: Phil, Roy, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Rainer, Karim
Staff picking Kelades:

Efrain Escudero vs. Rodrigo Lima

Mookie Alexander: Exactly what benefit is there to Escudero still being in the UFC? Riding on putting him on a Mexico card? That's all I've got. Rodrigo Lima by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: If Magny is an example of improvement through fighting, then Escudero is an example of deterioration. It seems like a long time spent in the sport has eroded all the edges off his striking and submission grappling like a pebble in the sea, leaving him worn down to the very basics of boxing and wrestling, and almost utterly indistinguishable from any other regional fighter. Rodrigo Lima by submission, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: Escudero is the more "name" fighter, which makes him a tempting pick, but consider this - his last UFC win came on the undercard of Rampage vs. Rashad. Rodrigo Lima by decision

Zane Simon: I just can't imagine picking Escudero to beat anyone consistently right now. He doesn't have finishing tools, his striking is more often miss than hit, and his wrestling seems to ebb and flow. Monstro isn't a great talent, in fact he's almost a prototypical Brazilian grappler: Aggressive, ugly striking, mediocre wrestling, and then a high pressure, tricky ground game. Still I think the consistent aggression and scrambling threat alone will be enough to beat Escudero here. Rodrigo de Lima by Decision.

Staff picking Escudero: Roy, Rainer
Staff picking Lima: Phil, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Karim

Chas Skelly vs. Jim Alers

Phil Mackenzie: This is kind of the Rick Story-Johny Hendricks of featherweight, where two nominally similar fighters go head to head but it remains extremely interesting to watch due to their skill and potential. I think Alers is the better stand-up fighter, but he is far too used to supplementing his striking with grappling: fundamentally, I'm not sure he can switch his phase shifting "off" and just counterstrike against a grapple-hungry octopus like Skelly. Under Steven Wright, I would also be unsurprised to see some improvements from Skelly's striking. Chas Skelly by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Alers is the stronger man and better striker, but I'm not sure he's better striker enough to take advantage of Skelly's weaknesses. Skelly is a hyper aggressive wrestler grappler and has shown great ability to stay on opponents, scramble with them, and create submission opportunities. Alers is good at that as well, but I'm not sure he's as good at it. If his boxing were more consistent, I might pick him, just for his ability to win the standup and stay competitive on the ground. But, I don't think that difference will be enough. Chas Skelly by decision.

Staff picking Skelly: Phil, Tim, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Rainer, Karim
Staff picking Alers: Roy, Mookie

Zach Makovsky vs. Tim Elliott

Anton Tabuena: Tough pick and could go either way, but I think the Bellator champ sends Elliot packing. Zach Makovsky by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: This is arguably the best and closest match-up on the entire card. Why is this on the prelims below Patrick Walsh and Daniel Kelly? Oh yeah, TUF 19 > flyweights. I enjoy watching Elliott fight, and he was more than competitive against Benavidez before the submission loss, but I feel like Makovsky is the more technical fighter of the two, and his ability to win the grappling exchanges will get him the nod. Zach Makovsky by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Elliott's odd distance/volume striking is backed up by really underrated scrambling and wrestling. Putting too much emphasis on his sub loss to Joe B might be dangerous, as he's a very physically powerful grappler who has come up against some opponents who are simply even more physical and more technical. Where Elliott is ragged and sneaky, Makovsky is clean and precise. I expect Makovsky to have the speed and Elliott to have the power, Makovsky to win initial exchanges, but Elliott to have stuff waiting for him in the scrambles, Makovsky to win rounds but Elliott to have more of a potential to finish or land big moments of offense. Should be great, I think it is super close but Zach Makovsky by split decision.

Zane Simon: This is a fight Elliott can definitely win, if he pushes Makovsky early and often. Especially if he initiates a lot of scrambles and looks for submission openings in those scrambles. Makovsky is willing to give up positions to keep moving in a fight. It's a matchup that fits Elliott well. But, I'm just not sure he has the kind of speed or technical grappling to really follow through on that plan. Formiga did, but Formiga is a wizard when it comes to speed grappling. Elliott is not that guy. Still, I'm expecting a gritty, close fight, where Makovsky stays ahead, but not way ahead. Zach Makovsky by decision.

Staff picking Makovsky: Mookie, Anton, Phil, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Rainer, Karim
Staff picking Elliott: Tim

James Moontasri vs. Cody Pfister

Mookie Alexander: Apparently Cody pfights out of "Nick's Pfight Club". That doesn't sound like a real camp. Anyway, Moontasri really should've been able to pfinish Joe Ellenberger in his UFC debut, but instead ended up losing a decision. I think Moontasri is pretty talented and his showings in Resurrection Pfighting Alliance show his potential, and the pfact that Pfister hasn't beaten anyone of note but pfailed to beat notables Tim Means and Derek Campos has me siding with the pfighter with the higher upside. James Moontasri by TKO, pfirst round

Pfil Mackenzie: There's very little tape to go on here, but what little there is shows Pfister as being a cookie-cutter regional MMA fighter- low power, some scrambling etc. Moontasri is a fairly smooth distance striker and should win rounds or pick up a stoppage. James Moontasri by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: I haven't seen a ton of tape on Pfister, but what I've seen isn't great. He seems like a very aggressive, energetic fighter, but a bit undersized and a very wild striker. He's not training out of a great camp, and I just don't see many avenues for him to beat Moontasri, unless Moontasri just sits back and lets Pfister overwhelm him. James Moontasri by TKO, round 1.

Staff picking Moontasri: Phil, Roy, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Rainer, Karim
Stapff picking Pfister: