UFC 164 is about a week and a half away and we’re here with our main card predictions. The fights will be live on Saturday, August 21 from the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The event will be main evented by a rematch of the 2010 fight of the year between Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson. As with all UFC pay-per-views, the main card starts at 10pm ET, the Fox Sports 1 prelims start at 8pm ET and the Facebook/Youtube prelims begin at 6:30pm ET.
In the incredibly entertaining first fight between Henderson and Pettis, Pettis earned a unanimous decision victory, while also landing one of the craziest moves ever seen in mixed martial arts (video above). Going into that fight, which was the last event of WEC, both fighters were 12-1. Since being absorbed into the UFC, Pettis has gone 3-1, while Henderson has gone 7-0, winning the UFC lightweight championship and defending it successfully 3 times. Being the much more active fighter, we feel will give Henderson an advantage in this fight. He has been consistently fighting and defeating the top guys the UFC has to offer, while Pettis earned a split decision victory over middle of the road lightweight, Jeremy Stephens as well as KO wins over Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone. In terms of their stats, Henderson lands almost 3 significant strikes per minute while Pettis lands just over 2. Pettis absorbs fewer punches however (1.41 per minute to 1.56 per minute for Henderson). The big difference between the two comes from their takedowns. Henderson lands a relatively high 2.83 takedowns per fight, while Pettis lands just 1.77. These additional takedowns will factor into the fourth and fifth rounds that we expect this fight to go to. Our model agrees with our analysis, favouring Henderson to take the victory. Therefore, we placed a 1.5 unit bet on Henderson at 1.91 to 1.
In the co-main event, Josh Barnett returns to the UFC to face the UFC’s welcoming crew, Frank Mir. In Mir’s last outing, he fought Daniel Cormier who was coming off a victory in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. Barnett was actually the man who Cormier defeated via unanimous decision to take the crown of heavyweight grand prix champion. At the age of 34, with 6 knockout defeats behind him and several major knee injuries, we feel Frank Mir can no longer compete at the level necessary to defeat top heavyweights in the UFC. Barnett, on the other hand, at the age of 35, has just 2 knockout losses and has gone 9-1 in his last 10. While it is true that Mir is facing a higher level of competition, his 6-4 record in his last 10 is not particularly impressive. In 3 of those 4 losses as well, he was knocked out, so they likely took a big tole on his body. Interestingly, both guys land 2.34 significant strikes per minute, with Mir landing 49% of his attempted strikes and Barnett landing 46% of his attempts. The difference comes in their striking defense. Mir absorbs an incredibly high 3.84 significant strikes per minute and is able to defend just 34% of the strikes attempted against him. “The Warmaster” Josh Barnett only absorbs 1.63 significant strikes per minute and defends 60% of strikes against. We see the likelihood of this fight going to the ground as relatively low, although Mir lands 2.46 takedowns per fight compared to 1.31 for Barnett. We expect Barnett’s strikes to be able to get through Mir’s defenses for the entirety of this fight making for a long night for Mir. At the current line on Barnett of 1.4 to 1 however, we will parlay this with our next prediction.
Square in the middle of the main card will be Clay Guida vs Chad Mendes. Guida is a guy who is known for always coming to battle, but we feel he has bitten off more than he can chew in the former title contender, Mendes. After losing back to back fights in the lightweight division against current champ, Henderson and Gray Maynard, Guida dropped down to the featherweight division and took a split decision victory over Hatsu Hioki. Mendes is 14-1 on his career with his lone loss coming to featherweight champ Jose Aldo. He has finished all of his last 3 opponents in the first round via TKO. Our model has Mendes as the huge favourite in this one, with the only caveat being the fact that this is only Guida’s second fight at featherweight so his performance could be unpredictable. Mendes is a former NCAA division 1 wrestler and it shows in his stats. He lands an incredible 4.72 takedowns per fight at 57% accuracy and has never been successfully taken down in a fight where stats were recorded (this includes his WEC performances). He also lands 2.36 significant strikes per minute and absorbs just 1.18. Guida, on the other hand, has some pretty decent takedown success as well with 3.8 per fight at 40% accuracy. He lands 2.09 significant strikes per minute, but absorbs 2.32. The combination of the stat lines heavily stacked in his favour and our model having him as a huge favourite made the choice of adding Mendes to a parlay with Barnett an easy decision. We placed a 1.5 unit bet on Mendes and Barnett to defeat Guida and Mir at 1.96 to 1.
In addition to the picks above, we have Brandon Vera as a heavy favourite over Ben Rothwell. We will hold off on placing a bet on this fight for now as the current odds aren’t where we’d like them to be to place a bet. In our final pick of the main card, we have Erik Koch, also as a pretty big favourite, to defeat Dustin Poirier. In this one as well, we will hold off on placing a bet to see how the line moves closer to fight day.
Henderson over Pettis. 1.5 units at 1.91 to 1
Barnett and Mendes over Mir and Guida. 1.5 units at 1.96 to 1.
Vera over Rothwell
Koch over Poirier
Here are the latest UFC 164 odds: