Because the area was a lawless wasteland, the first two UFCs ever were held in Denver, Colorado. It was an interesting time back then in the winter of 1993: as a chill hung over the McNichols Sports Arena, within a sumo wrestler was literally getting his teeth kicked out while a bunch of other combat sports newbies were huffing and puffing and on the verge of altitude sickness. Denver, you see, is so far above sea level that flying birds are in danger of inadvertently leaving Earth's atmosphere. The UFC has returned to the area many times since, and on Saturday night will be holding UFC 150 there. So who on the main card will be fully acclimated to the thin air and who will look like they're suffering from asthma? Here's a breakdown of the fights to tell you that very thing!
- Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar — Edgar became the UFC's lightweight champ after he went five rounds with B.J. Penn. Then he fought Penn for five rounds again, fought Gray Maynard a couple times for a total of nine rounds, and faced former WEC star Henderson, who took the belt from him after another protracted five-round war. To say that Edgar spends a lot of time in the Octagon is an understatement. It would be more accurate to say that he lives in the Octagon, and that UFC president Dana White has often floated the idea of charging the New Jersey-based fighter rent. Unless he can nail a guillotine choke, Henderson is pretty much a decision-type guy as well, so what this one boils down to is who made the best adjustments from their last fight. Has Edgar trained to avoid those up-kicks that wrecked his nose (an injury that required surgery and forced the postponement of this rematch earlier in the year)? Will Henderson continue to throw kicks that Edgar catches and use the opportunity to punch him repeatedly in the face while Edgar stands there holding his leg (which happened last time)? If adjustments have been made, I can see the "Answer" racking up enough points to take the decision over "Smooth". Either way, though, this one is going the distance. Oh, and both men will be in great shape.
- Don Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard — When it comes to knocking people out, lightweight "The Ultimate Fighter — Season Two" veteran Guillard is king. Unfortunately, when it comes to defending submissions, the "Young Assassin" is like a knave or squire, or perhaps even just a scullery maid. But fear not! For although former WEC star Cerrone is great at grappling, he's also great at standing and banging — which is hopefully what we'll get for at least the first few minutes of this co-main event hoedown. Granted, once things get too hairy for him on the feet, "Cowboy" can flip the switch, take things horizontal and tap Guillard out, but we should at least get some fireworks. I'm picking Cerrone to win this one via choke, hopefully later rather than sooner.
- Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman — Middleweight jiu-jitsu expert Shields ruled Strikeforce with an iron fist, even handling Dan Henderson like he was nothing in his last fight with the organization. But since crossing over to the UFC, Shields' performances can best be summed up by the word "meh". TUF 3 runner-up Herman's career has been a mixed bag of dominant wins and crushing defeats, yet he's a gamer, and if he can prevent Shields from getting him down, he can clinch his way to a decision. That's not going to happen, as Shield will get him down and tie him in knots, but hey, if Herman was going to win, that's how he'd do it.
- Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts — Former middleweight contender Okami didn't look so hot against champ Anderson Silva, and when he took on Tim Boetsch at UFC 144, he was dominant until Boetsch said "Enough of this crap!" and simply beat him unconscious. Replacing Rousimar Palhares as Okami's dance partner is Roberts, who had a less-than-inspiring UFC debut back in June and who's clearly taking a big step up in competition with this match-up. Look, I'm not going to pretend that Roberts has the chops to beat Okami if Okami is sharp and "in the zone", but if the Japanese fighter is truly riding a fast train to Suckville, losing to the Greg Jackson-trained young buck would likely mean the end of him in the Octagon. I predict Okami takes this one by getting Roberts down and pounding on him. And if doesn't… see ya, "Thunder".
- Justin Lawrence vs. Max Holloway — Okay, okay, Lawrence looked extremely impressive earning a win via knockout at the TUF 15 finale, but does that mean we should have a TUFer on the main card of a pay-per-view event so soon after his respective season? Anyway, Lawrence can strike pretty well, and his opponent — Hawaii native Holloway — hasn't really made an impact in two UFC appearances (he lost handily to Dustin Poirier and decisioned Pat Schilling), so this bout is either going to be quick and violent or it's going to make you call your cable company and say you ordered this UFC by mistake. I'm leaning towards the former, with Lawrence emerging victorious.
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