UFC Picks: 5 Reasons Henderson Beats Cormier

Jason Lake

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 2:37 PM GMT

Dan Henderson is the biggest underdog on the MMA odds board for UFC 173. That’s because he’s fighting Daniel Cormier, who’s undefeated at 14-0. But we’ve got five good reasons why Hendo can pull off the upset.

Jason’s record on his final MMA picks, up to May 20 inclusive: 2-0 (+4.26 units)

Betting on mixed martial arts isn’t quite the same as betting on the NFL, or any of the major pro sports in North America. There aren’t a lot of variables to deal with – no weather reports to consider, no irregularly shaped Octagons, no back-to-back games. Just one fighter (and his or her team of coaches, trainers and handlers) versus another. And once the bell rings, the favored fighter tends to capitalize. 

But not always. We scooped up a pair of underdog winners at UFC Fight Night 40, as Matt Brown (+201) put down Erick Silva via TKO in the third round, and Costas Philippou (+225) knocked out Lorenz Larkin with a left-right combo in the first. Eight of the 13 underdogs on the card had their hands raised in victory, one short of the company record of nine set this past March at UFC Fight Night 38.

So can the biggest dog in the yard come through this Saturday at UFC 173? Depending on which of our featured online sportsbooks you shop at, Dan Henderson has the longest odds of any fighter on the card, available at anywhere between +499 and +790 as we go to press. His opponent at the MGM Grand is Daniel Cormier, and as we laid out in our early look at Saturday’s PPV, Cormier is undefeated at 14-0 lifetime and 3-0 in the Octagon. But we’re going to play devil’s advocate, throw out the MMA lines for a moment, and give you five reasons why Henderson will prevail.

Compare the top UFC 173 Betting Lines

1. Punching Power
If there was any question whether Henderson still has any sting in his right hand, he delivered the answer upside the head of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (–165) at the aforementioned UFC Fight Night 38. They call Hendo’s overhand right “The H Bomb” for good reason – see his 2009 destruction of Michael Bisping at UFC 100, which earned Knockout of the Year honors from multiple publications.

2. Experience
While Henderson is clearly not the same fighter at age 43 that he was in his prime, he’s been battle-tested to a far greater degree than Cormier. Henderson (30-11 lifetime in MMA) was an Olympic wrestler for Team USA in 1992 and 1996, and he won his first fight in the Octagon way back in 1997 at UFC 17. Cormier was on the 2004 Olympic team and didn’t debut in MMA until 2009.

3. Size
Henderson has both a height and a reach advantage in this matchup. He’s two inches taller than Cormier at 6-foot-1, and his reach is three inches longer at 74”. On top of that, Cormier will be making just his second appearance at Light Heavyweight after moving down from the Heavyweight division earlier this year. Is he truly prepared to make this move? 

4. Quality of Last Opponent
It’s hard to tell, because Cormier’s LHV debut was a very quick TKO over Patrick Cummins (+600) at February’s UFC 170 event. Cormier was supposed to fight “Sugar” Rashad Evans on that card, but Evans had to pull out with a knee injury. Henderson, meanwhile, is coming off that Fight of the Night TKO victory over Rua, which also earned him a Performance of the Night bonus. 

5. Promotional Shenanigans
Cormier faces yet another logistical snafu this week; his fight against Henderson was originally penciled in for July at UFC 175, but they were moved up to help salvage Saturday’s injury-plagued card. Also, at one point it was expected to be Cormier and Rafael Cavalcante duking it out instead. Henderson’s experience should give him the edge when it comes to dealing with these switches. He’s seen this picture before.