Preview of UFC Fight Night 82: Hendricks vs. Thompson
By Owen Phillips 2/2/16
‘Wonderboy’ in the spotlight
The event on Sunday (Australian time) that was supposed to be UFC 196 with a heavyweight championship on the line is now UFC Fight Night 82 headed by Johny ‘Bigg Rigg’ Hendricks vs. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. These competitors were shunted to the top spot after there were no willing or fit heavyweights to fill in the gaps in the previously named UFC 196 pay-per-view. Now UFC 196 is Conor McGregor’s next title tilt.
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight champion Hendricks (17-3) has had a difficult time of late. He has struggled to get to the 170 pound (77.1kg) welterweight limit and if he did make it, his health was put at risk. Hopefully all those troubles are behind him and he can put his skills on display against brilliant kickboxer Thompson (11-1).
‘Wonderboy’ has a lethal array of kicks developed from his karate base that can threaten anybody in the division if the fight takes place on the feet. He has built up a nice five-fight win streak and success over a fighter with the credentials of Hendricks will be a huge boost to his career prospects. Hendricks will be looking to utilise his strong wrestling to complete takedowns and maintain top control for the majority of the fight. If Thompson is to make the next step into title contention he will have to show his worth when he is on his back against a seasoned veteran in Hendricks.
‘Big Country’ tries to escape a losing streak and ruin a winning streak
In the heavyweight co-main event fan-favourite Roy Nelson (20-12) clashes with clinical wrestler Jared Rosholt (14-2). Rosholt has crafted a three-fight winning streak, heavily utilising his strong grappling to nullify opponents on the ground and diminish their offensive output to a bare minimum. It’s not the most eye-catching style but it is very effective. The matchup with ‘Big Country’ Nelson brings a desperate opponent who is on a three-fight losing streak and a style designed to take your head off with every strike. A vicious overhand right is Nelson’s weapon of choice. For Rosholt to implement his usual smothering style he will have to get past the hands of Roy Nelson otherwise ‘Big Country’ could register another signature knockout.
A lightweight war
A fight not to miss on the Fox Sports preliminary card involves hard-nosed veteran Josh Burkman (27-12) making his 155 pound (70.3kg) debut against K.J. Noons (13-8, 1NC). In his last fight Burkman lost the battle of the chins to fellow granite-head Patrick Cote. It was the first time Burkman had been stopped from strikes in his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career and there was no shame in blemishing that record against ‘The Predator’. Burkman will be keen to get back in the winner’s circle and to do that he will have to counter Noons’ boxing, kickboxing and head movement as described by Jack Slack from Fightland. Noons is happy to stand and trade, so there is an expectation of fireworks when he meets face-to-face with a willing Burkman inside the octagon.
The young guns at flyweight
Another fight placed on the Fox Sports preliminary card is a superb flyweight matchup between Ray ‘The Tasmexican Devil’ Borg (9-1) and Justin ‘Tank’ Scoggins (10-2). Both fighters like to push a high pace and create openings for a finish. David Castillo from Bloody Elbow described Borg’s strength before his previous win against Geane Herrera as his grappling and solid wrestling to maintain top control. He has submitted his opponent in 6 of his 9 professional MMA victories. Justin Scoggins has a karate style utilising plenty of kicks to hurt his opponent, and has good hands. He said in 2014 in a post-fight media scrum recorded by MMA Fighting that he modelled his style on one half of the UFC Fight Night 82 main event Stephen Thompson. ‘Tank’ will be looking to build a winning streak after rebounding from back-to-back losses to score a last start decision victory over Josh Sampo.