Fight Forecast is a recurring series at StrikeScore that provides a stats based preview of upcoming events. The following uses Fight Matrix rankings, peak rank, Tapology user votes, betting odds and Rankings Momentum.
In this case, the period used for Rankings Momentum was 7/1/2014 to 4/1/2016. Fighters must have been ranked in at least four quarters during the period to be included. Tapology scores are as of Aug. 26 at 9:30 a.m. EST. Betting odds are from 5Dimes via BestFightOdds.com as of Aug. 26 at 9:30 a.m. EST.
Benson Henderson vs. Patricio "Pitbull" Freire"
It is interesting to see Freire as such an underdog. He actually started out as even less of a favorite, but the public has bet him to +195 at press time.
Considering the fighter who has given Freire the most trouble is Daniel Straus, Henderson seems to present a tough stylistic matchup for him. On top of that, Henderson will be the much bigger fighter in the cage. The fact that the fight is three rounds also appears to stack the deck against "Pitbull." As the more dynamic fighter, the extra two rounds would give him more time to score a finish.
Henderson needs a win here to show that his apparent decline is due more to underestimation of Andrey Koreshkov and less to due with his ability. In retrospect, his three-fight stint at welterweight was probably not the best idea. He went 2-1, but all of his performances were well below his career average in terms of StrikeScore.
Georgi Karakhanyan vs. Bubba Jenkins
In their first fight, Karakhanyan telegraphed the fact that he was going to continually go for the guillotine. He ended up finishing with it anyway. Since then Jenkins has shown incremental improvements, but his submission defense is still a concern. With that being said, the former NCAA champion should be the favorite here. Their first fight withstanding, Karakhanyan normally struggles with wrestlers. If Jenkins can get early takedowns, the former WSOF champion will become less of a submission threat as the fight goes on.
Saad Awad vs. Derek Anderson
If Awad lands early, he can put anyone away, see wins over Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos and Will Brooks. If Anderson can survive the early onslaught, he should be able to prove he is the more technical striker and take a decision victory.
A.J. McKee vs. Cody Walker
McKee is the biggest favorite on the card despite only being 4-0 as a professional. It makes sense in this case. Despite being only 4-0, his opponents in those bouts came in with a combined 11-1 record, so it is not like he is smashing cans. Plus, Walker really struggled with his defensive wrestling against J.C. Cottrell in his last fight (Video). McKee might not be as accomplished a wrestler as his father or cousin, but he still competed at a high level in his school and can depend on it if he gets into trouble here.
A.J. McKee vs. Ali Naser (Expected starter for Arizona State next season)
Joey Davis vs. Keith Cutrone
Obviously, Davis should be able to win his professional MMA debut based on his wrestling background alone. At Notre Dame College, he went 131-0 and captured four NCAA Division II titles. In the history of NCAA wrestling, there have been only three wrestlers to go undefeated and win four titles: Davis, Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson and Marcus LeVesseur. LeVesseur accomplished the feat for Division III Augsburg. He fought MMA 29 times from 2003-2012 but went only 1-2 in the UFC with a split-decision win over Carlo Prater.
Interesting side note: Bellator has promoted Davis as having an undefeated 5-0 amateur MMA record. The only source for this record seems to be an interview Davis did with InterMat in 2014. Tapology actually has him listed as 1-1 in the amateur ranks. Either way, he should have a long and successful MMA career in front of him.