UFC Fight Night 60: Henderson vs. Thatch prelims preview and predictions

Ah, Valentines Day. A day where people feel the need to show affection to their significant other, when they could be doing that on any other day. Alas, I digress. For MMA fans, especially the single ones, today gives them an opportunity to wash away the horrid taste the UFC has left in their mouths over the pat two weeks. Granted, Bellator and WSOF have done well, but the UFC has done anything but.

That’s because two weeks ago, the UFC held its latest event. On that January 31 evening, “legends” ANderson SIlva and Nick Diaz returned after sitting out all of 2014, putting forth one of the weirdest fights in recent memory. It was a unique way to cap off a month which featured three events that were far from great, but fairly entertaining. Since the turn of the month, however, everything’s gone wrong.

Over the first two weeks of February, legacies have been tarnished, steroid scandals have erupted, and injuries continue to rip apart previously loaded fight cards. One such card is tonight’s card. When it was announced, it was loaded with fights sure to bring out the violence. While it’s still a decent “Fight Night” card, it nowhere near resembles the potential it once did. Perhaps that’s just due to injuries. There’s also the chance that the UFC realized that a card on V-Day is not a great idea, or that ticket sales were meager. Alas, the card is just a shell of its original self.

As a result of all the injuries and moved fights, the headliner features former longtime UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson, returning to the cage less than a month after losing a controversial decision to rival Donald Cerrone. Now, he will be making his Welterweight debut against undefeated prospect Brandon Thatch, who has only seen the second round once, over six years ago. There are other notable and potentially entertaining fights on the card as well. So, anyone who’s Valentine’s Day plans go sour or end early will have something to look forward to.

Every fight will be on Fox Sports 1, due to Nik Lentz’s fight being scrapped due to sickness. There will be ten fights overall, with four prelims, followed by the beleaguered six-fight main card. Granted, almost every fight seems somewhat like a squash match. Still, anything can happen.

Anyways, enough premising. My picks for UFC 183, I went 10-1, for now. At least, that’s until the Silva/Diaz gets overturned to a no contest. As a result of that spectacular night of picks, my January 2015 record was 34-12. Hopefully, things continue to go on an upswing.

Televised Prelims (8/7c, FS1)

James Moontasri (7-2) vs. Cody Pfister (11-3-1)

The first fight of the night was supposed to be on FIght Pass, until the Lentz fight was cancelled. Now, it opens the televised prelims, and like a few fights from UFC 183, features someone who missed weight.

That fighter is James Moontasri, who lost his UFC debut to Joe Ellenberger last June. Before that split decision loss, the “Moonwalker” had reeled off three straight finishes with RFA, the regional promotion many have dubbed as a minor league feeder system for the UFC. In fact, both of his career losses have come via split decision. He has also won two decisions, while knocking out three opponents, and submitting two others.

Moontasri’s opponent, Cody Pfister, is on a quiet roll. After winning his first four bouts, “The Pfist” tasted three straight times, capped off by a pair of first round submission chokes, the last being against UFC fighter Tim Means in August 2011. Since then, he has gone 7-0-1, and has finished seven career fights.

Honestly, I might have talked more about this fight than it needs to be discussed. Then again, I actually believe Pfister stands a chance. Almost everyone else seems to be picking Moontasri to win with ease. I see him actually dealing with a dogfight, before succeeding late. Prediction: Moontasri via tko, late round 3. 

Zach Makovsky (18-5) vs. Tim Elliott (10-5-1)

The next fight features Flyweights are somehow still ranked. Elliott has lost two straight, with each fight coming against recent title challengers. He is 2-3 with the UFC, and a loss could send him packing. Meanwhile, Makovsky lost his first UFC fight in three tries. After defeating Scott Jorgensen and Josh Sampo in his first two fights with the UFC, the former Bellator Bantamweight Champion lost a decision to Jussier Formiga last August. In fact, his last six fights have ended in that fashion, and he is 11-2 in such fights. That said, I believe he’s clearly the better fighter of the two, and is still a potential title contender, in my book. So, I’ll go with him. Prediction: Makovsky via unanimous decision. 

Chas Skelly (13-1) vs. Jim Alers (13-1)

The next fight is a Featherweight tilt between contrasting styles. Alers is the better striker, and is stronger. However, Skelly is a ferocious, aggressive wrestler with seven submission wins. He has won both of his Bellator fights, and is 2-1 in the UFC. The lone loss came against undefeated Mirsad Bektic.

Meanwhile, Alers has won nine straight fights, and boasts nine submissions. He stands a legit chance in this fight, and can even be considered the favorite. Still, I’m picking the Ft. Worth native to utilize his aggressive wrestling, en route to a decision victory. Prediction: Skelly via unanimous decision.

Efrain Escudero (22-9) vs. Rodrigo de Lima (8-2-1)

The final prelim fight of the night is one that could signal the end of Efrain Escudero’s career. Owner of 12 submission wins, the TUF 8 Lightweight winner has not won in the UFC since UFC 114, back in May 2010. H has lost two of his last three overall fights, and has lost his last four UFC fights. Meanwhile, de Lima is is a submission specialist who lost his UFC debut against Neil Magny back in June. I think he’s the better fighter, but for some unknown reason, my heart roots for Escudero. I’ll likely be wrong, but I’ll still bite the bullet. Prediction: Escudero via unanimous decision.

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