UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones prepares to defend his belt as a -600 favorite against the aging Dan Henderson. How will the champion respond to arguably his easiest title defense to date, and is he possibly looking past the dangerous right hand of his opponent?
UFC 151 takes place Sept. 1 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will be headlined by the light heavyweight championship bout between reigning champion Jon Jones and former Pride legend Dan Henderson.
Against Henderson, the champion will be entering his fourth title defense as nearly a -650 favorite, the highest price we’ve seen on Jon since capturing the belt against Mauricio Rua in 2011.
If the recent price surge on Jon Jones is any indication, it’s doubtful we’ll see anything below -500 against any of the champion’s foreseeable challengers in the near future. The only two possible exceptions for our UFC Predictions would be Alexander Gustafson, who’s similarly praised for his natural talent, and Daniel Cormier, who possesses one of the few wrestling pedigrees good enough to possibly take the champion down.
Many, including myself, consider this particular match against Henderson a clear indication that Jon Jones has completely cleared out the Light Heavyweight Division. In less than 2 years, Jon has run through every challenger without suffering so much as a bruised cheek bone. In fact, he’s narrowed the division so thin in such a short amount of time that the UFC’s already scheduled a rematch against Lyoto Machida less than a full year after Jon submitted him last December.
Henderson, when it comes to TRT usage, has been one of the sport’s few success stories.
Since dropping a decision to Jake Shields in 2010, Henderson has reeled off 4 straight victories including 3 by knockout.
The 41 year old former champion has managed to fight his way to one final title shot by knocking out the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Rafael Cavalcante in Strikeforce and taking a decision over Shogun Rua back in November. While his right hand appears just as lethal as ever, the lack of endurance he showed against Shogun combined with a significant reach disadvantage to Jones reduces his path to victory to a single lucky right hand.
Remaining Maincard Attractions
In a welterweight clash between struggling wrestlers, former number one contender Josh Koscheck will face off with the equally heavy handed Jake Ellenberger.
Back in June, Jake was one win away from being declared the number one contender to the welterweight crown. However, after dominating Martin Kampmann in the first round, he found himself tangled in the nasty clinch of the Dutchman and was knocked out for the first time in his career.
This appears to be a classic case of which fighter is able to find the range and consistently land with their heavy right hand. Judging from the way Ellenberger has badly faded in back to back fights against Martin and Diego Sanchez, Koscheck’s superior endurance may very well be enough to steal a decision in a close bout. I’d add Koscheck to my UFC predictions at anything less than -140, but wouldn’t advise a play on Jake unless you can find +150 or better.
The maincard will also consist of a Featherweight showdown between German Kickboxer Dennis Siver and the Hawaiian Eddie Yagin.
Yagin is coming of one of the largest UFC upsets of the year with a decision victory over Mark Hominick as a +400 underdog. He was able to repeatedly stagger the Canadian with big hooks and winging counters, which was more than enough to secure the victory.
Against Siver, Yagin is faced with a mountainous battle, where his only advantage is in his punching power. In all likelihood, we can expect the clearly more technical striker in Siver to tactfully pick his shots en route to a dominant 30-27 decision victory.