The co-main event of UFC on FOX 14 is a three-round middleweight bout between Gegard Mousasi and Dan Henderson. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Mousasi is a -300 favorite (bet $300 to win $100) while Henderson is a +250 underdog (bet $100 to win $250). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Mousasi at -350 and Henderson at +250 and there has been little line movement so far. I agree Mousasi should be the favorite here as I expect him to win the fight. Here’s why. Mousasi (35-5-2) is one of the top-ranked middleweights in the UFC. The 29-year-old Dutchman is 2-2 in the UFC with wins over Mark Munoz and Ilir Latifi and losses to Jacare Souza and Lyoto Machida. He also has wins over Souza, Mark Hunt and Hector Lombard from his earlier career. Prior to joining the UFC, Mousasi competed for organizations such as PRIDE, Strikeforce and DREAM and fought at heavyweight, light heavyweight and middleweight before finally settling in at 185lbs in the UFC. Mousasi is a well-rounded fighter with elite striking and submission skills and he is a finisher. He has 18 knockout wins and 12 submission wins in his career which shows he is dangerous if the fight stays standing as well as on the mat. His wrestling is passable but it’s historically been the weakest part of his game. Mousasi hasn’t looked great in the UFC but he has fought top-level competition and there is no shame in losing to Machida and Souza. I still believe in Mousasi and think he can make a run for the middleweight title in the next few years. The knock on Mousasi in the past has been a lazy training regiment, but his back is up against the wall here against Henderson and I expect him to show up and perform, and I agree that he should be favored heading into the fight. Henderson (30-12) is a future UFC Hall of Famer. The 44-year-old American began his career in 1997, winning the UFC 17 tournament in 1998, and over the years has fought and competed for the UFC, Strikeforce, PRIDE and RINGS, always fighting the best competition in the world. He holds victories over the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Shogun Rua, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria and most of his losses have come against the greatest fighters of all time. Henderson came from a Greco-Roman wrestling background but in his MMA career his wrestling has taken a back seat to his striking. He has one of the most powerful right hands in MMA history (14 career knockout wins) and even at his age he still has power, as evidenced by his brutal KO over Shogun in 2014. He also has one of the sport’s all-time best chins, although he was knocked out for the first time in 2013. However, it’s clear that he’s on a decline as he’s lost four of his last five fights, albeit against some of the best fighters in the UFC. After getting ragdolled by Daniel Cormier at UFC 173, Henderson decided to drop down to 185lbs and make one more run at the title. The last time he was at middleweight, he gassed badly and lost a decision to Jake Shields, and that was five years ago. At age 44, it’s hard to see his cardio having improved, and with a declining chin it’s hard to imagine him beating a fighter as talented as Mousasi is and who is fifteen years younger than Henderson, and that’s why the is the underdog heading into this fight. Henderson is one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport but at 44 years of age, having lost four of his last five fights, and coming off of a destructive loss to Cormier, not to mention cutting to middleweight for the first time in five years, it’s really hard to see him winning this fight. He of course still has that devastating H-bomb and it’s impossible to completely write off the possibility of an upset by KO, but it’s very unlikely. Mousasi has shown a great chin in his career and although he does not have as much power as Henderson, he has better technical striking and overall I’d say he has the better standup. Henderson should have a slight advantage in wrestling, but it’s probably not going to be enough to take Mousasi down consistently and keep him pinned on the mat. It’s possible Henderson has a big first round, but if he can’t get a finish I expect him to tire our and Mousasi could very well take over in the second and third rounds, and possibly even get a submission. Regardless of the method, I think that Mousasi, who is 15 years younger, is going to win this fight. I think a decision is likely since Henderson is so tough, but a submission is not out of the realm of possibility. As much as I like Henderson, he can’t be trusted anymore and Mousasi at -300 is more than likely going to cash as a winner, and I can’t blame anyone who parlays him.
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