Preview and Predictions – UFC Fight Night 68: Henderson vs. Boetsch


In the year 2015 we’re in a world where Dan Henderson is fighting Tim Boetsch in the main event of a UFC card and before anything else is said, it has to be pointed out that that is both sad and about as clear an indication as possible that the UFC is doing too many shows, too quickly. But I digress.

Originally, current light heavyweight title holder Daniel Cormier was due to headline on Saturday against Ryan Bader but when Jon Jones allegedly went apeshit in Albuquerque, Cormier was called to fill in at UFC 187 two weeks ago and thus his fight this weekend was cancelled with Bader to be given a match at a later date. Instead, at a combined age of 78, the aforementioned battle of “Hendo” and “The Barbarian” will top the UFC’s visit to New Orleans.

After a long and extremely successful career in mixed martial arts, it’s pretty amazing that Dan Henderson is still in the game today. Entering the sport as a two time Olympian way back in 1997, Henderson has gone on to have successful stints as a champion in PRIDE and Strikeforce. In the UFC, though, he has never hit the heights he would have wanted. In his current UFC run, Henderson is 2-5 inside the Octagon and at the age of 44 every outing could be his last.

In most match-ups, Tim Boetsch would be the senior man in the cage but on Saturday night he takes up the role of the young whipper snapper at just 34 years of age. Over his 9 year career, Boetsch may not have reached the heights that Henderson did but he was always good for an upset. Wins over Yushin Okami, CB Dolloway and, especially, Hector Lombard have been highlights of that ability to cause a shock. Like Henderson, though, Boetsch is coming towards the twilight of his career and a 2-4 record of late might mean it’s closer than he may have hoped.

With the fact that both mean are much closer to the end of their career than the start, you couldn’t expect this fight to be one of elite craftsmanship. As mentioned above, Henderson started his MMA career as a wrestler but that side of his game is rarely seen today. Instead, he will jab, leg kick and throw his patented H-Bomb overhand right hand to seek his opponent’s chin. Speaking of chins, after being finished in three of his last four, Henderson’s certainly isn’t what it used to be, while his lack of speed leaves him open to be hit and taken down.

For Boetsch, being well rounded is the name of the game. His durability and heart are probably his best assets, especially in this, a five round fight. Boetsch has a useful wrestling game, solid defence and a guillotine which has taken four victims in his career. In the striking, he is technically better than Hendo who in turn, despite Boetsch’s ability to knock guys out, has the power advantage.

With Dan Henderson these days, literally, the only way he’s going to win a fight is by landing one of his massively telegraphed H-bombs. And while that is a possibility, I think it’s unlikely. Look for Boetsch to be very weary early so as not to get caught by one of those power shots. Except plenty of clinching and some takedowns as he tries to tire out Henderson in the opening couple of rounds. From there, I don’t think Boetsch will have too much trouble and while Henderson is as tough as they come, I can see him getting stopped late on.

Then, in the co-main event, things pick up a little with the meeting of two in-form top-15 heavyweights going toe-to-toe as Matt Mitrione takes on Ben Rothwell. Entering the UFC as a product of the fantastic Ultimate Fighter season 10, Matt Mitrione has gone on to fight twelve times inside the Octagon, winning nine. Impressive victories over Kimbo Slice, Shawn Jordan and, in his last fight, Gabriel Gonzaga have elevated Mitrione into the rankings but losses to Brendan Schaub, Cheick Kongo and Roy Nelson have stopped him from making a title run. On Saturday, he’ll be hoping to change that.

Ben Rothwell will be no pushover, though. As a fifteen year, forty-four fight MMA veteran “Big Ben” has done and seen it all. After a long and successful stint in the now defunct IFL, Rothwell signed for the UFC in 2009 and has been there ever since. Losses to champion Cain Velasquez, Gabriel Gonzaga and Mark Hunt, like Mitrione, have also kept him away top but a win in his last fight against Alistair Overeem got people to start thinking that that could change in the close future.

As heavyweights go, these two are about as different as could be. Mitrione is a quick, athletic, skillful fighter who is just coming into his prime whereas Rothwell is a big, lumbering monster who can take a shot and, skill wise, is what he is at this stage of his career. In the striking department, Mitrione has the technical advantage but, importantly at heavyweight, Rothwell has the power and resistance on his side while either man could decide to take it to the ground where they both have heavy ground and pound.

I full expect Mitrione to have a lot of success early in this fight. Look for him to be light on his feet, stab in with jabs and throw fast, hard combinations. Rothwell, on the other hand, will want to bide his time, look for the openings and load up with power shots. For Mitrione to win on Saturday, he’ll have to keep to an extremely tight gameplan and stick to it for fifteen minutes because Rothwell is resilient and can win even when he’s way down on the scorecards. A few years ago, Mitrione wouldn’t be a safe pick here at all but his maturation has been evident of late and he should be able to take the win in this one.

The other standout bout on the card is undoubtedly the lightweight meeting of hometown boy, and Conor McGregor victim, Dustin Poirier and Yancy Medeiros which should be an absolute barn-burner over three rounds while Cisco Rivera vs. Alex Caceres and the heavyweight clash of Shawn Jordan and Derrick Lewis are also worth a watch.


Tim Boetsch vs. Dan Henderson – Hendo doesn’t land, Boetsch wins
Ben Rothwell vs. Matt Mitrione – Athleticism wins Mitrione the decision
Dustin Poirier vs. Yancy Medeiros – Fancy Yancy for the upset
Thiago Tavares vs. Brian Ortega – Tavares via decision
Joe Soto vs. Anthony Birchak – I’ll take title challenger Soto
Francisco Rivera vs. Alex Caceres – Should be great, taking Rivera via damage

Shawn Jordan vs. Derrick Lewis – It’ll either last a minute or be a slopfest, Lewis KO
Brian Ebersole vs. Omari Akhmedov – Ebersole via guillotine
Chris Wade vs. Christos Giagos – Taking a Wade decision
Joe Proctor vs. Justin Edwards – Should be a handy Proctor win

Ricardo Abreu vs. Jake Collier – Picking the Abreu upset here
José Quiñonez vs. Leonardo Morales – Morales via submission


This week I’m going balls out with a 10/1 accumulator of Proctor, Boetsch, Medeiros and Rivera.


Early Prelims – 12 midnight on Fight Pass

Prelims – 1am on BT Sport 1

Main Card – 3am on BT Sport 1

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

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