Anderson Silva (-150) vs. Dan Henderson (+120)
Cheick Kongo (-175) vs. Heath Herring (+145)
Chris Leben (-165) vs. Alessio Sakara (+135)
Yushin Okami (-220) vs. Evan Tanner (+170)
Jon Fitch (-550) vs. Chris Wilson (+350)
I’ve flip-flopped on my prediction for the main event, which is one of the most evenly matched and toughest-to-call in UFC history. At first, I bought into the oft-repeated line of “Silva’s never faced as good of a wrestler as Henderson.” Which is absolutely true, but now I don’t think that will be the deciding factor in the fight. For me, it comes down to this: Which will each man’s strategy be, and how likely is the success of that strategy?
Silva will keep the fight standing as much as possible and trust in the superiority of his striking. He’ll dodge as many takedown attempts as possible and use his reach to keep Henderson at bay. If Henderson pushes him up against the cage, Silva would look to lock on his own thai clinch; if Henderson takes him down, he’d stay in attack mode and look for a submission or a reversal of position.
Henderson will be smart enough to stay out Silva’s striking range for the most part, but he’ll shoot in at the right moments to work for takedowns and hopefully control Silva on the ground. The problem is, a ground-and-pound TKO is the only way I see Henderson winning this fight, and with Silva being as good as he is on his back, it won’t be easy.
Not only that, but Silva will be hard to get to the mat to begin with. This isn’t an awesome example, but watch his fight against Chris Leben again (if you can find an active video online) and pay attention to how effortlessly Silva lands his punches while moving backwards. I’ve called his striking “laser-guided” before, and this is what I was referring to — his ability to land shots from any angle. It’s going to frustrate Henderson as he chases Silva around the ring looking for a takedown, and by the third round, I think it’ll frustrate him enough that Henderson will resort to trading shots with Silva. (I mean, the guy knocked out Wanderlei Silva, so why not?) And that, of course, will be the beginning of the end for Dan Henderson.
Hendo’s never been knocked out, and it’s hard to make a prediction against a streak like that. It’s downright stupid, actually. And yet, we see a particuarly brutal knee in Henderson’s future — say, in round 4 — that will either knock him out or lead to Silva pouncing on him and dropping punches until the ref puts an end to it.
In our last poll, 54% of you called this fight for Silva, which is a pretty good reflection of the edge he has in this match. Hit us up in the comments section and let us know exactly how you think it’ll go down.