UFC Fight Night 60 Play: Benson Henderson (+105) vs Brandon Thatch (-125)

UFC Fight Night: Thiago v ThatchUFC Fight Night 60 Date: 02/14/15 Arena: 1STBank Center City: Broomfield CO Welterweight bout: “Smooth” Benson Henderson (+105) vs Brandon “Ruckus” Thatch (-125) Fight Breakdown: The main event for UFC Fight Night 60 is scheduled for five rounds and will see the promotional welterweight debut of former UFC Lightweight Champion “Smooth” Benson Henderson as he gets set to square off against surging 170-pound prospect out of Denver, CO, Brandon “Ruckus” Thatch. The betting odds for this headliner are tight, with Henderson being +105 ($100 to win $105) and Thatch being -125 ($125 to win $100) at Several Bookmakerss. “Smooth” Benson Henderson (21-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) is coming off a controversial split decision loss to Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 59 last month, and following the sour defeat, was eager to get back in the cage. When Bobby Green pulled out of his April UFC Fight Night 63 co-main event match-up against Jorge Masvidal due to injury, “Smooth” immediately filled the slot. Soon after, another injury struck, and this one came in the welterweight division. Brandon Thatch’s opponent Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson suffered a rib injury and pulled out of their five round meeting. The UFC turned to Henderson to save the show, and considering he’d been flirting with the idea of moving up in weight, he accepted the bout and is set to make his UFC 170-pound debut. “Bendo” is an excellent striker who comes from a Tae Kwon Do background and owns a black belt in the sport. He is very versatile on the feet, as well as effective, but the one knock regarding his striking would be that he does not possess knockout power, as he has failed to earn one in nearly six years and owns only two in his professional mixed martial arts career. The 31-year old has very strong legs, which he uses to deliver vicious leg kicks, as well as heavy kicks to the head and body. He has a wide variety of kicks in his striking arsenal and is effective with all of them, including his push-kick and side-kicks. Henderson is often unique and creative inside the cage, and one unusual thing he likes to implement are heel kicks, and does so off his back or against the cage. The former UFC and WEC Lightweight Champion is quick on his feet and does a good job of moving in and out. He possesses good head movement and solid striking defense, though it Is worth noting he sometimes has spurts where he goes into somewhat of a defensive mode and state of hesitation where he does not dish out a large volume of strikes, which I think has played a part in why so many of his fights have been so closely contested. “Smooth” is a southpaw who likes to implement his elbows in his striking, especially in combinations, and he throws a beautiful inside elbow, as well. He is not as active with his knees but does throw the occasional knee strike. He has a nice jab and often doubles up on it. “Bendo” has an excellent straight left and a nice uppercut, which he sometimes leads with and used it to hurt Rustam Khabilov before finishing him with a rear naked choke. One of his most used tools on the feet is another unique and unorthodox technique: the punch to the thigh, which is something the rest of his team-mates at the MMA Lab in Arizona have begun to implement, as well. Henderson has phenomenal submission defense and seems to be impossible to choke out, as he has survived and escaped from many incredibly tight choke attempts by various opponents throughout his career. That said, he was put to sleep with an anaconda choke in his third professional fight back in 2007, which was also his first taste of defeat. That was the only time he had been submitting until losing his UFC Lightweight title to Anthony Pettis via armbar submission in the very first round of action. The 31-year olds offensive submission game is also very good, as he possesses a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and owns nine of his 21 professional mixed martial arts career victories by way of tapout. “Bendo” works solid takedowns, including nice single and double-legs. He is dominant from top position on the mat, where he displays a vicious ground and pound attack, and he does a good job of finding the backs of his opponents and sinking in chokes. He has a great rear naked choke and a phenomenal guillotine choke, which combine for seven of his nine official victories by submission. Technically, 100% of his submissions came by either rear naked choke or guillotine choke, considering that two of the nine submission wins on his resume are as a result of his opponents tapping to strikes. Brandon “Ruckus” Thatch (11-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) rides an impressive 10-fight winning streak, with all wins coming inside the distance, and is currently 2-0 inside the Octagon with finishes of Justin Edwards and Paulo Thiago, respectively. Heading into UFC Fight Night 60 in his backyard of Broomfield, CO, he will be enjoying a hometown advantage and looking to extend his winning streak in his first ever five round UFC main event match-up. Facing him on the other side of the cage will be the stiffest test of his professional mixed martial arts career in former UFC 155-pound champion Henderson. “Ruckus” is a very talented prospect at 170-pounds, having looked very impressive and shown great promise thus far in his two-fight Octagon career, and under the RFA banner prior to that, where he captured the promotion’s welterweight title. He is undoubtedly a finishing, on the feet or on the mat, having put away all of his opponents; seven by T/KO and four via submission, though it is worth nothing that Paulo Thiago tabbed to strikes. He’s a well-rounded mixed martial artist who presents threats in every department and looks for the finish from the opening bell. The 29-year old is very aggressive inside the cage and likes to dictate Octagon control. He puts the pressure on his opponents and does not let off, constantly looking to not only score points, but do fight-ending damage. He likes to pressure them against the cage, giving them no room to move and unload lethal strikes. Thatch is vicious and effective with all of his limbs, including his gut-wrenching knees and razor-sharp elbows, and he likes to put them on full display. He does a great job of timing his strikes and throws them in high volume. He also does a very good job of covering space, and using his height and reach advantage over his opponents, speaking of which he will be enjoying the difference of five inches in height and four-and-a-half inches in reach against “Bendo” heading into this bout. Not to mention, he will have a general advantage in physical size. The former RFA 170-pound champion has solid Muay Thai skills and moves well on his feet. He is very quick, which is especially worth noting considering he is a large welterweight. He is dangerous both inside the clinch and from distance. Thatch has a nice uppercut and a beautiful left-cross. He works some great combinations on the feet and puts them together quite efficiently and quickly. “Ruckus” has excellent kicks, including dangerous head and body kicks, a solid push kick and a remarkable outside crescent kick. To compliment his offensive striking, his striking defense is fairly good, as well. The 29-year old has solid submission defense and decent takedown defense, though when taken down, he does a good job of working his way back to his feet. His offensive takedown skills are questionable at this point, however when finding himself in top position on the mat, Thatch is very effective and very dangerous, both with his ground and pound and submissions. The Colorado native splits his training between Grudge Training Center and Elevation MMA in Denver, MA, and although training in high-altitude generally benefits him in cardio, he will be at a disadvantage in that department heading into his first UFC main event outing against Henderson. Gabe’s Thoughts: If Thatch fails to score an early finish, many expect he will fade and Henderson will finish him later in the fight. I could see that happening, considering his extended layoff, however I don’t see this fight playing out that way. I think more than likely, Thatch will in fact finish this fight within the first 10-minutes of action. However, should he fail to score the finish, I think he has a better chance of winning a decision than most give him credit for. I’m feeling confident he will find the finish here and send Henderson back down to 155-pounds. I think he is too much, too soon for “Bendo” at 170-pounds and won’t take too long to show that. I think Thatch is going to pressure Henderson against the cage and unload a barrage of strikes that will give the referee no choice but to intervene. If Henderson survives the first round, he will feel somewhat defeated heading into the second, where he will ultimately be finished by Thatch, who I expect will have enough in his tank to keep pressing the action. At his betting price of -125, I see great value in Thatch, considering I think he should be -300. I assumed he would open at -400 or -450 and was thinking if I’d be willing to make an underdog play on Henderson. I see this line as a gift and love it for this three-way parlay. I considered making a straight play on it, while making a two-way parlay with Holloway and Walsh, but after all my calculations, I concluded that would present more risk than reward and am best off in making this three teamer consisting of the three fighters I feel most confident and see the most value in. Gabe’s Call: “Ruckus” by T/KO (strikes, 1:44 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Thatch (-125) parlayed with Holloway (-360) and Walsh (-165) at +269 for 3.75u to win 10.1u

Written by Gabe Killian

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