UFC Pick Thatch vs. Herderson: Has Henderson Bitten off More than He Can Chew?

Jason Lake

Friday, February 13, 2015 4:09 PM GMT

Benson Henderson is a slight underdog on the MMA odds for this UFC Fight Night 60 card. Check inside as we preview this match and share our free pick for this Saturday's event.

Benson Henderson has just pulled the UFC’s bacon out of the fire. Less than one month after losing a questionable decision to Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 59, Henderson has agreed to replace the injured Stephen Thompson in Saturday’s main event at UFC Fight Night 60 against Brandon Thatch. Not only is Henderson taking this fight on short notice, he’ll also be competing at welterweight for the first time in the Octagon.

Maybe this is all a bit too much for “Smooth” to handle. He’s been pegged as a slight underdog by most of the books on our MMA odds board, with a couple of locations calling it a pick ‘em. What can we expect when Henderson and Thatch collide at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colo.?

 

Movin’ On Up
Let’s start by acknowledging that Henderson has been thinking about moving up in weight class for a while now. In what we hope is a continuing trend, UFC fighters appear less and less interested in putting their bodies through the rigors of cutting weight, just to have an advantage when they get into the Octagon against naturally smaller opponents. Henderson’s willingness to move up from the Lightweight division also reflects how much interest – and money – there is in the welterweights right now.

Having said that, Henderson (21-5 lifetime) remains an unknown quantity at 170 pounds. And the two-time NAIA All-American wrestler has been a little bit off since dropping the Lightweight strap to Anthony Pettis (+100) two years ago at UFC 164. Henderson won his next two fights, then got knocked out by Rafael dos Anjos (+270) at UFC Fight Night 49 before losing to Cerrone via a hotly-disputed unanimous decision. Could Sherdog’s Fighter of the Year for 2012 be on the decline at age 31?

 

Gone in 60 Seconds
Then you have the question marks surrounding Henderson’s opponent. Thatch (11-1 lifetime) has only fought twice in the Octagon, and both of those fights were in 2013, when he earned TKO victories over Justin Edwards (+200) and Paulo Thiago (+250). Injuries kept Thatch from adding to his win total in 2014.

Just because we don’t know all that much about Thatch doesn’t mean he can’t fight. The Denver native started training in karate at age 16 – his adopted father is Clarence Thatch, a highly respected former ISKA champion who trained in the Gracie camp and had the opportunity to work with Bruce Lee. Brandon Thatch got his MMA start in 2008 with Ring of Fire, where he had a notable first-round TKO over Chidi Njokuani. That stoppage took just 53 seconds, but it was one of the longer fights of his career. Thatch has five other victories that didn’t even go 40 seconds.

Super Fight is Set, Check Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao Odds & Betting Predictions 

Fort Lean
Quality of opposition notwithstanding, it’s almost frightening how effective Thatch’s Muay Thai approach has been in his brief career. At a lanky 6-foot-2, Thatch is more than capable of driving a knee into your face, and his length allows him to better establish top control when he’s on the ground. Three of Thatch’s wins in the indies were by rear-naked choke – again, all in the first round.

This is where everything could go horribly wrong for Henderson. At 5-foot-9, he’s giving up a lot of height to his less experienced opponent, not to mention a 4.5-inch reach advantage. There’s no question that Henderson has the all-around skills to take care of himself in the Octagon, but he’s been a bit more one-dimensional since losing the Lightweight title, and of course, he’s only had a few weeks to prepare for Saturday’s bout (10:00 p.m. ET, FS1). We’re going to have to roll our UFC pick with the bigger, younger and more powerful Thatch via KO/TKO in this instance.

Free UFC Pick: Take Thatch at at Bookmaker

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2815005, "sportsbooksIds":[19,43,227,1096,999996,93,238,123,139], "LineTypeId":5, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]