Picks and Preview: UFC Fight Night – Henderson vs. Masvidal

benson henderson

From Melbourne, Australia to Monterrey, Mexico in the last two weeks, it’s onwards to Asia for the Ultimate Fighting Championship this weekend as the world’s biggest fight league takes its product to the South Korean capital of Seoul for the very first time ever.

In the main event of the maiden voyage to Korea the hometown crowd will have someone to cheer for as Korean-American former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson gets the honour of headlining in the country from which his mother hails. Standing across from him on the night will be tough brawler Jorge Masvidal who steps up from the undercard to replace Henderson’s, now injured, original opponent Thiago Alves.

As a pair of former 155 lbs fighters currently bedding themselves into the welterweight division, Saturday night is very much a case of battling it out for your spot on the rankings at 170 pounds.

For Henderson, who is rumoured to be in the last fight of his current UFC deal, that ranking might be given a added importance as he negotiates with various parties for either a new deal or a more lucrative one elsewhere. After his title run at lightweight, Henderson went on a 2-2 skid but has now seems to have found a new lease of life following a fan-endearing short notice victory over Brandon Thatch in his welterweight debut last time out.

Like Henderson, Masvidal’s decision to move up a weight class, as well as a big weight-cut, was brought on by a disappointing 3-2 stint which saw him lose out to Rustam Khabilov and Al Iaquinta to bookend an 18-month period where he also beat Pat Healy, Daron Cruickshank and James Krause.

Over five rounds, with a smaller weight-cut than usual for both men this looks like being an extremely enjoyable fight. Henderson is a forward-moving, well-rounded machine who will box you up from all angles, kick hard into your legs and body, go for takedowns regularly while damaging you up against the fence or on the floor.

Masvidal, on the other hand, is maybe not as well-rounded but is extremely dangerous when at his best. The former Florida street fighter is a balls-to-the-wall thrower of technical bombs from range who always brings the fight. Over the years Masvidal has developed some good takedown defence to aid that style and will grapple himself when needs be.

And that takedown defence is sure to be tested on Saturday against Henderson who will know his best road to victory is to box his way into a range where he can impart his game. Early on you’d expect this one to be a striking battle but eventually Henderson will use superior all around game to take over. With Masvidal going for the finish constantly, look for “Bendo” to push the pace, put Masvidal against the fence and make this one a dog fight. Over five rounds it’s always a tough proposition against Henderson and if this one goes as it should, it seems a nightmare match-up for “Gamebred” who has been known to falter when it’s put to him. Either way, it should be fun.

Outside of that main event there really isn’t too much to look forward to on this pretty mediocre Fight Night card. Dong Hyun Kim returns for the first time since May as he takes on team Jackson/Winkeljohn fighter Dominic Waters after originally being scheduled to fight the aforementioned Jorge Masvidal; and he will be joined on the night by another Dong Hyun Kim who also steps in on short notice, also at welterweight, to fight Dominique Steele. Apart from that Yoshihiro Akiyama is always fun to watch while the fight between big Korean prospect Doo Ho Choi and American knockout artist Sam Sicilia might just steal the show.

FULL FIGHT PICKS

Benson Henderson vs. Jorge Masvidal – Henderson‘s pressure wins him the decision
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Dominic Waters – Stun Gun will a roll-back-the-years KO
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Alberto Mina – After looking magnificent last time, have to go Sexyama again
Doo Ho Choi vs. Sam Sicilia – I’m going with the big upset here, Sicilia KO

Yui Chul Nam vs. Mike de la Torre – MDLT
Tae Hyun Bang vs. Leo Kuntz – Kuntz, no Bang, no Kuntz.
Dongi Yang vs. Jake Collier – Collier
Seo Hee Ham vs. Cortney Casey – Casey
Yao Zhikui vs. Fredy Serrano – Serrano
Ning Guangyou vs. Marco Beltran – Guangyou
Dominique Steele vs. Dong Hyun Kim – Steele

BET OF THE WEEK

Not a great card for betting but a Henderson and Sicilia 3/1 double looks good value.

START TIMES

Prelims – 10am on UFC Fight Pass

Main Card – 1pm on UFC Fight Pass

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma