Jay Primetown takes a look at the five biggest storylines to develop from UFC Fight Night 60 from Broomfield, Colorado. #1 Performance of the Year – Entering Fight Night 60, many thought that Ben Henderson was crazy. After a controversial decision loss to Donald Cerrone in January, the former lightweight champion accepted a quick turnaround less than a month later. Not only was this turn around fight a five round match up, but at a weight that Henderson had never fought before. Brandon Thatch is one of the biggest welterweight’s in the division; a five inch height, four inch reach, and a 15+ pound weight advantage on fight day over Henderson. As the fighters entered the cage, the fight seemed to take on a bit of a David vs. Goliath feel. The big, powerful Thatch vs. the much smaller, but crafty Henderson. Henderson tried to land a few strikes and then sneak out of the way of Thatch’s more powerful blows. Ultimately, it was Henderson working in timely takedowns and wearing out the much bigger Thatch. Henderson exposed Thatch on the ground gaining back control in the third and fourth rounds of the fight. That championship level experience really was the biggest difference between the two fighters in what was a truly memorable win for “Bendo” and the performance of the year thus far in the UFC. What Henderson decides to do next will be interesting. Will he build on this win looking for big fights at welterweight or will he drop back down to lightweight and once again contend for the championship? Either way, Henderson has made a fan out of me and many others with his performance at Fight Night 60. #2 A Learning Experience–Fight Night 60 was by far the biggest matchup in Brandon Thatch’s career. Prior to Saturday night, his first round knockout of Paulo Thiago was his biggest moment. A main event spotlight in his home state against a former UFC champion is the type of moment that Thatch had long dreamed of. Thatch was excited for the opportunity and smiling throughout and after the fight. It’s a moment he relished despite ending up on the losing end of the matchup. Fighting and being competitive against someone the caliber of Ben Henderson is validation to prove that this sport is somewhere that you belong. For a fighter who had grown up on the regional scene, that can be just as important as winning fights. While Henderson was able to expose holes in Thatch’s game, there are certainly things that Thatch can learn from. On a striking level, Thatch can compete with just about anyone in the welterweight division. Wrestling and submission grappling are the two areas he needs to improve on most. In order to be the best, sometimes you need to be exposed in order to have that extra motivation to make it to the next level. That’s the situation that Thatch currently resides in. Expect him to learn from this loss against Bendo and to be a big threat at welterweight for years to come. #3 A Quiet Streak – Colorado’s own Neil Magny extended his winning streak to six in a row in the UFC with a third round submission over Kiichi Kunimoto. No winning streak in the organization has been done more quietly than the one Magny is currently on. Many have questioned the validity of Magny’s streak due to the caliber of competition. Despite all the wins, Magny has yet to face one ranked fighter in the UFC’s welterweight division. What one can’t question is the improved confidence and finishing ability Magny has shown in recent fights. Magny’s excellent conditioning has shown him to be a fighter who turns it on late in fights to earn late stoppages. Magny has earned stoppage wins in three of his last four fights; all of them halfway thru the second round or later in the fight. After dominating Kunimoto at Fight Night 60, it’s about time Magny gets his due and earns himself a name opponent in a high visibility situation. Winning six times in a row inside the octagon is no easy task no matter who the opponents are. #4 On the Brink – Fight Night 60 saw the rise of a new crop of young fighters. In 2015, we are really becoming witness to young fighters who have trained in the sport at a very young age take stage and make their way up the rankings. Entering Fight Night 60, only five male fighters under the age of 25 were in the top 15 of the UFC Fighter Rankings. One of those five fighters, Max Holloway, took center stage in the co-main event. A big opportunity for “Blessed” as he got to face veteran Cole Miller. Holloway was put in a couple tricky grappling situations by Miller, but was too much for the American Top Team fighter as he dominated the second portion of the fight to earn a decision win. The number 13 ranked Holloway should rise to the cusp of the top ten with a win. His next fight will be the biggest of his career as he’s already booked to face 5th ranked Cub Swanson. At only 23 years of age, Holloway now holds eight wins inside the octagon and five in a row. Holloway truly is a fighter on the rise and someone on the cusp of title contention. #5 One to Keep an Eye On – Continuing with the under 25 theme, 21 year old Ray Borg is another guy on a fast track. Borg is a fighter who had his professional MMA debut just after his 19th birthday. His grappling is some of the best in the division and furthermore his scrambling speed and submission aggression is some of the very best in MMA today. Coming off his first UFC win over Shane Howell, he faced Canadian Chris Kelades at Fight Night 60. From the opening bell, Borg showed his strength forcing the fight to the mat from the opening bell all the way through the third round when he forced Kelades to tap. Borg is a fighter whose talent is undeniable. His ability to actively pursue submissions from a variety of positions makes him a threat to nearly everyone in the division. Expect Borg to work his way up the rankings in 2015 and be in position for a shot at the flyweight title sometime in 2016.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links and MMA Odds Breaker will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on the links.