Benson Henderson vs Frankie Edgar
In February Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar fought in Japan. In a competitive contest "Bendo" took a five round decision to win the lightweight title. Yet again we have Frankie Edgar involved in a rematch for the lightweight title. Over the last two and a half years the lightweight title has been effectively hijacked with three straight rematches between Frankie Edgar fighting BJ Penn twice in a row, Gray Maynard twice in a row, and now Benson Henderson twice in a row. The difference this time is that Frankie won't be holding the belt on the way to the cage.
As far as the fight goes this is still a close fight in alot of areas. Striking technique is slightly easier this time around. Frankie Edgar's elite footwork helped him and hurt him last time around. Henderson with his tae kwon do background incorporating lots of kicks and distance control seemed to allow his size and strength to work to his advantage. I'm going to give it to Henderson this time around. Striking power I'd give to Henderson. Last time his strikes were clearly connecting with more "oomph" behind them, and that upkick nearly put Edgar away early on. Wrestling is really a bit of a wash still. While Edgar did score some takedowns he couldn't hold Henderson down for more than a few seconds, save for the instance in which he almost got his face kicked off his face. Overall grappling I'm still giving the edge to Henderson for his submissions, submission defense, and clinch game. One thing that can't really be measured here is Edgar's knack for adapting to and figuring out opponents in these rematches. I still think Henderson is a terrible matchup for him. Size with the cardio to go with it, striking technique more on par with Frankie's own, and incredibly durable to boot. I'm seeing another decision for Bendo here.
Prediction: Benson Henderson by Decision
Donald Cerrone vs Melvin Guillard
Both of these guys were thought to be possible title contenders just one win away from a title shot at some point last year. However those thoughts were shattered in short order by Joe Lauzon and Nate Diaz. However despite those losses, as well as Guillards loss to Jim Miller these two have rebounded from the losses with dominating wins(though Guillard got himself in some trouble with Camoes) over Jeremy Stephens and Fabricio Camoes. Though the past has repeatedly proven that having any kind of faith in Melvin Guillard is a fools errand. He has shown us time and again that he is mentally weak and loves to believe his own hype. Donald Cerrone has hiccuped before in the past as well, but never against fighters he was supposed to squash. As far as the fight goes Cerrone should be the more technical striker, though Guillard's athleticism allows him to bridge striking gaps with speed and precision. Striking power I have to give to Guillard for his one strike knockouts/knock downs and the way he has been able to turn tides with a single strike. Wrestling is an obvious edge for Guillard, while overall grappling due to submissions and overall technique go to Cerrone. I see this playing out fairly even to start, Guillard won't want to engage right away, he'll want to suss out Cerrone for a while. Eventually though Cerrone will get into his groove and there won't be much Guillard can do about it. I see Cerrone knocking Guillard down and following him to the mat for a submission.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone by Submission
Jake Shields vs Ed Herman
Jake Shields is finally moving back up to Middleweight for the first time since entering the UFC. Ready to welcome him back to the division is Ed Herman. Herman has put together three finishes in a row over Tim Creduer, Kyle Noke, and Clifford Starks since his last loss. Jake Shields hasn't had the best of luck in the UFC. A very close decision over Martin Kampmann, a decisive loss to GSP, getting knocked out by Jake Ellenberger. His only smooth performance was against Yoshihiro Akiyama in which he couldn't take Akiyama down, but outstruck him almost 3 to 1 in significant strikes. Striking seems to be an area that Shields has dilligently worked to improve over these last couple years. Herman has the kind of power to give Shields problems standing, but Shields should be the better technical striker as funny as that sounds. Grappling is Shields' playground both in wrestling and overall grappling. Though Herman has some slick subs to his name, Shields is an elite MMA grappler and won't be caught in anything without being severely hurt first, and maybe not even then. I see this one going similarly to most every fight Shields fought at Middleweight. He'll take Herman down repeatedly and proceed to show him why he was undefeated at middleweight for so long.
Prediction: Jake Shields by Decision