First and Worst: Week of January 14 – January 20, 2013

By Adam Martin

First and Worst is an ongoing series for MMARatings.net, where every week Adam will make his pick for the best and worst newly-announced fight of the past week (Monday to Sunday). If you’d like to see any additions to this series, hit him up on Twitter @MMAdamMartin.

First: Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez, UFC on FOX 7

My choice for best fight of the week is UFC lightweight
champion Benson Henderson vs. former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, a five-round bout that will unify their titles, and which will serve
as the headliner of UFC on FOX 7. Henderson has been utterly dominant in his
UFC run, going 6-0 thus far inside the Octagon, while Melendez fights for the
first time in the UFC following a long-time run as the Strikeforce champ.

This is going to be an extremely competitive fight, and it’s
possible the title changes hands here.

For as dominant as Henderson has looked in the UFC thus far,
Melendez has been doing the same thing in Strikeforce for much longer, only not
as many people have been watching him. However, the hardcore observers of the
sport recognize Melendez as one of the top lightweight fighters in the world,
and most give him a good chance at upsetting Henderson.

Both fighters are very good at using wrestling, have good
striking skills, have the cardio to make it five rounds, and are very
experienced at fighting high-level opponents. Henderson will have the UFC
experience edge, but Melendez has been there and done that in the sport, and
the odds of him suffering from the “Octagon jitters” are slim to none. He’ll be
fighting in front of his California fans at HP Pavilion in San Jose,
California, Strikeforce’s old home, so he’ll be in familiar territory.

Expect this fight to go the distance and for it to come down to
a very close decision, possibly even split, in a fight that could go either
way. It’s going to be awesome.

Worst: Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir, UFC on FOX 7

My pick for worst fight of the past week is Daniel Cormier vs.
Frank Mir, which also takes place at UFC on FOX 7. Cormier is coming over from
Strikeforce, and Mir, the former UFC heavyweight champion, is going to welcome
him to the Octagon. And while sure, you can say both guys are top 10 ranked
heavyweights, so it makes sense to book this fight, honestly, I’m not so sure
how competitive it’s going to be.

I, and many others, expect Cormier to absolutely wreck Mir in
this matchup. Yes, Mir has been in big fights in his career, but he’s clearly
slowing down, and Cormier is definitely on the rise. With his combination of
speed, athleticism, and power, Cormier is going to be able to fight this fight
wherever he wants it, and honestly, I think we’re going to see a highlight-reel
knockout blow delivered by him to Mir’s face.

Sure, Mir could shock us all like he has in the past and win
this fight, but that would be a massive upset. In fact, I think it’s a lot more
likely that he gets beat up so bad by Cormier that he seriously considers
retirement, because it’s unlikely he’ll ever fight for a title again, and his
body has taken tons of punishment over the last few years.

Cormier doesn’t need this tune-up fight,
especially if he plans to drop to light heavyweight afterwards. He’s ready for
Jon Jones now, and I really hope we see that fight before the end of the year
is up, because Cormier has the tools to beat him. But for now he’s going to
have to get by Mir, and we’ll just have to enjoy the one-sided beating while it

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