The UFC heads to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for an exciting Sunday fight card headlined by a key lightweight matchup between Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee.
The co-main event is home to Johny Hendricks’ second UFC fight at middleweight as he takes on Tim Boetsch while BJ Penn continues his second run against fellow veteran Dennis Siver.
Let’s take a look at how these matchups and the rest of the exciting main card might play out.
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BJ Penn vs. Dennis Siver
Two fighters well beyond their primes kick off the UFC Fight Night in Oklahoma City main card as BJ Penn fights Dennis Siver.
Penn is coming off a fight where he landed just four significant strikes. Before that, he’d landed just 13 significant strikes against Frankie Edgar and he actually hasn’t landed over 50 significant strikes in a bout since 2013. Couple that with the fact that he hasn’t won a fight since 2010, I can’t pretend to know what 38-year-old BJ Penn still has in the gas tank.
We do know that he’ll give it his all, like he always does, and the same can be said for Siver, who’s won just three fights since 2012.
Prediction: BJ Penn by decision
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Tim Means vs. Alex Garcia
Unranked welterweights look to inch closer to the top 15 when they face off on the UFC OKC main card.
Means has only lost to one unranked fighter during his time on the UFC roster and that happened to be his last fight, a second-round submission loss to Alex Oliveira, back in March. In that bout, Oliveira planted Means on his butt a career-high six times and showed that some of the holes in his ground game still exist.
Garcia should look to implement the same game plan. Garcia is one of the strongest fighters on the roster and should be able to use that to his advantage when working on takedowns.
Means can try to counter this by engaging in some offensive grappling of his own and try to wear out “The Dominican Nightmare” and drag the fight on.
On the feet, Garcia is really explosive and closes the distance in a heartbeat to unleash heavy strikes. Means is more of a distance fighter who throws a variety of punches and kicks and knows how to use his jab to capitalize on his consistent reach advantage.
Garcia has one-punch power, but I think Means has the skills to avoid majority of those strikes.
Prediction: Tim Means by decision
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Joachim Christensen vs. Dominick Reyes
Light heavyweight Joachim Christensen takes the Octagon against UFC newcomer Dominick Reyes on the OKC main card.
Christensen is 1-2 in the UFC and while he’s struggled against submission fighters, he’s shown to be a very capable striker.
His opponent, Reyes, is a true knockout artist but much of his game is a mystery considering he’s finished five of his six fights in the first round, including four in less than two minutes. We do know that he’s a rangy striker with super quick and accurate hands.
Given his track record, Reyes is going to come out the gate swinging and the question remains how or if Christensen responds to the pressure.
Prediction: Dominick Reyes by first-round KO
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Felice Herrig vs. Justine Kish
Rising prospects Felice Herrig and Justine Kish square off in UFC Oklahoma City.
Herrig and Kish were castmates on the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter and both enter this bout riding an impressive two-fight win streak.
Kish, a former Golden Gloves champion, is very crisp on the feet. She has managed to land 50 percent of her thrown strikes – far more than the UFC average of 42 percent – and lands 4.1 strikes per minute, nearly double that of Herrig.
Herrig will be at a striking disadvantage in this one, but that has never really stopped the “Lil Bulldog.” In fact, she lost the striking battle in her last bout against Alexa Grasso but was able to compensate with her outstanding wrestling.
That will be an area where Herrig will surely try to test Kish, and if Kish isn’t careful, she could find herself spending an entire round trying to fight off submission attempts.
This is another closely matched bout at UFC OKC, and I think it will end up being one of the best on the card.
Johny Hendricks needed a full round to get his feet under him in his middleweight debut against Hector Lombard, but after his did, “Bigg Rigg” looked pretty good at 185. However, it must be noted that he was fighting another former welterweight who was similar in size.
On Sunday, he’ll face off against former light heavyweight Tim Boetsch, who in addition to his one-punch power, will enter the bout with a five-inch reach and three-inch height advantage.
Boetsch also touts a strong wrestling background – like Hendricks -- with excellent hips, so it’s going to be tough for either fighter to get a takedown on fight night.
That means this fight could turn into a boxing match.
Hendricks will have the speed advantage in this one and should be able to close the distance and work his way inside for some dirty boxing and clinchwork. He struggled to strike from a distance in his last bout and doing so against Boetsch could see him get picked apart in exchanges.
For Boetsch, the key will be using that front kick he throws so well like a jab to keep Hendricks on the outside and work on landing those powerful hooks and overhands. He’s shown the ability to be really patient with his striking while still being aggressive and walking down opponents.
If Boetsch can avoid getting caught on the chin, his strength, power and patience should overcome Hendricks’ speed advantage.
Prediction: Tim Boetsch by third-round TKO
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Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Lee
Two of the best lightweights in the world go toe-to-toe when Michael Chiesa takes on Kevin Lee in the main event of UFC OKC.
Lee and Chiesa are both incredibly well-rounded fighters and on paper, they’re closely matched. They both land about three takedowns a fight at a 40 percent success rate and defend 73 percent of the takedowns thrown their way. They both also attempt just under two submissions per fight and love to finish with the rear-naked choke.
I have a feeling that their comparable ground games will help keep this fight standing and that surely benefit Lee, who is the sharper fighter on his feet.
Lee has really quick hands and exceptional footwork for a guy with a grappling background and his pace in the stand-up will be a lot for “Maverick” to handle. Not to mention, he has the longest reach on the entire main card.
Lee can win this fight fairly easily if it stays standing for all 5 rounds, but odds are, it’s eventually going to go to the ground. He would be best served taking the initiative and using his wrestling to get takedowns of his own but it’s imperative he stay active and not let the sneaky Chiesa take his back and work his patented RNC.
If that happens, all bets are off.
I think this is a good matchup for both fighters to showcase their skills, but particularly for Lee.