February 2015 looks like it’s going to be a great month to be an MMA fan, as a total of three UFC cards as well as two Bellator cards take place this month. There’s even an Invicta FC card for lovers of the female fighters. For today’s MMA Odds and Ends, I’ll list five fights that you should watch this month, and give my quick thoughts on the matchups. Brandon Thatch vs. Benson Henderson, UFC Fight Night 60 This weekend, Brandon Thatch returns from a 15-month injury layoff to take on former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson at UFC Fight Night 60, takes place February 14 at 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado. Anyone who has been following me knows how high I am on Thatch. I really think this guy is a special talent and I think he has the potential to be the UFC welterweight champion one day. His opponent, Henderson, isn’t a natural welterweight, but he is a former UFC champion and he’s a skilled martial artist whether at 155lbs or 170lbs. So this is a huge opportunity for Thatch to get the biggest win of his career to date, and to move on to bigger and better things in the welterweight division. Henderson is a tough guy, but I think Thatch wins this fight. To read my in-depth preview of this matchup, click here. Edson Barboza vs. Michael Johnson, UFC Fight Night 61 A lightweight bout between two top-15 lightweights takes place later this month as Edson Barboza battles Michael Johnson at UFC Fight Night 61, which is set for February 22 at Ginasio Gigantinho in Porto Algere, Brazil. Both of these fighters are tremendous strikers, with Barboza choosing a more kick-based approach and with Johnson preferring to use his hands. But regardless of what limbs they want to use to hurt each other in this fight, there’s no doubt there will be some heavy violence in the cage when these two collide later this month. This is a tough fight to call, but with Johnson’s layoff and considering how good Barboza has looked as of late, I think you have to lean towards the Brazilian in this one. But with his chin being a question mark and with Johnson hitting hard, it’s definitely a dangerous fight to bet on. Liam McGeary vs. Emanuel Newton, Bellator 134 Bellator light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton puts his title on the line against tournament winner Liam McGeary at Bellator 134, which takes place February 27 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. This fight headlines the British Invasion-themed event and it should be a really good one. Newton has shown during his run as the Bellator light heavyweight champion that he is one of the most underrated 205lbers in the world of MMA, while McGeary proved during his tournament run that he is a legitimate title contender in Bellator. This is a tough fight to predict and I could see either guy winning, but I really like McGeary and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he took home the Bellator light heavyweight title from the clutches of Newton’s hands. Cris Cyborg vs. Charmaine Tweet, Invicta FC 11 Former Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg looks to defend the Invicta FC featherweight title for the first time when she takes on Charmaine Tweet in the main event of Invicta FC 11, which is set for February 27 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. I like Tweet, but Cyborg is a beast and I don’t think she’ll have a problem beating Tweet in this matchup. And when she does, I expect the UFC to make a really big push to get her in the Octagon, but we’ll have to wait and see how that saga plays out. Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington, UFC 184 And finally, women’s bantamweight sensation Holly Holm makes her long-awaited UFC debut later this month when she takes on Raquel Pennington at UFC 184, which is set for February 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. I’ve been waiting for Holm to come to the UFC ever since she signed up to do MMA, and the moment is almost here — and I expect her to make the most of this opportunity. Holm is being thrust into the co-main event slot at UFC 184, but it’s not like she hasn’t dealt with this pressure before. She’s headlined numerous boxing events in the past and I really think this is going to be just another day at the office for her. Her opponent, Pennington, is tough, but I think Holm is just a better fighter and I expect her to win this fight. And if she does, look for her to be in the running for the next title shot in the UFC women’s bantamweight division.
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