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UFC Fight Night 60 fight card: Benson Henderson vs Brandon Thatch fight preview

Benson Henderson and Brandon Thatch will slug it out later tonight (Sat., Feb. 14, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 60 inside the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado. In a match up of veteran and prospect, what adjustments must be made for either man in order to claim victory? Find out how below!

Pictured: Brandon Thatch
Pictured: Brandon Thatch
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights Benson Henderson and Brandon Thatch will scrap later tonight (Sat., Feb. 14, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 60 on FOX Sports 1 from inside the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado.

For the first time of his career, Henderson is on a two-fight losing streak. Like many of the decisions in his career, it's not without controversy, but the former champion still most certainly needs a victory in this bout.

If Thatch had been able to compete with any consistency, he'd likely be a pretty big name by this point. While it's unfortunate that injuries ravaged this card, the benefit is that the spotlight is now cast upon "Rukus," who's been pretty incredible thus far in his career.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter.

Benson Henderson
Record:
21-5
Key Wins:
Frankie Edgar (UFC 144, UFC 150), Gilbert Melendez (UFC on FOX 7), Josh Thomson (UFC on FOX 10)
Key Losses:
Anthony Pettis (UFC 164, WEC 53), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC Fight Night 49)
Keys to Victory:
Henderson is an extremely well-rounded fighter. His collegiate wrestling skills and jiu-jitsu black belt make him a thoroughly dangerous grappler with both ground strikes and submissions, while his blend of Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Doe has turned veteran scrappers into bloody pulps.

In this bout, however, Henderson should definitely look to lean on his grappling assault. His opponent is not only a fairly terrifying power striker, but he's much larger than the former lightweight champion. If Henderson tries to exchange with Thatch and winds up caught in the clinch or on the wrong side of a step knee, his night could be over fairly quickly.

Instead, Henderson needs to use his kickboxing skills to keep Thatch off him, at least initially. For example, his front leg side kick that he displayed against Cerrone could actually be of use here.

By not allowing Thatch to immediately bully his way into the clinch, Henderson helps himself find the takedown. If Thatch tries to kick with Henderson, he doesn't always set it up, meaning Henderson could attempt to catch and transition into a takedown. Or, he could wait for Thatch to reach with his punches and duck under.

Above all else, the first round or two should be about survival. Thatch fights at a high pace, clearly cuts a ton of weight, and is accustomed to finishing within a couple minutes. Together, these factors usually indicate that there will be a sharp drop off in ability as the fight wears on for "Rukus."

If Henderson can outlast his opponent early, he can dominate late. Considering his endless cardio, Henderson will definitely have a decent chance at finishing if the fight does go deep, as "Smooth" can really pour it on when it matters most.

Brandon Thatch
Record:
11-1
Key Wins:
Paulo Thiago (UFC Fight Night 32), Justin Edwards (UFC Fight Night 37)
Key Losses:
None
Keys to Victory:
Thatch is a wrecking machine of a power striker. In UFC, his habit of throwing power kicks just long enough to move into the clinch before shredding his foe with knees and punches has been incredibly effective.

It's taken him just three and a half minutes to dispose of two UFC fighters, so he's clearly doing something right.

Thatch's conditioning may not be the Achilles' heel some pundits are making it out to be. He does train at Grudge MMA, so he should be accustomed to the altitude in Broomfield. Plus, he's not an old fighter nor does he have an extensive amount of wear on his body, at least not from fights.

That said, why find out?

In Henderson's fight against Dos Anjos, he was rocked early and then pursued pretty violently until the finish by a Muay Thai-style striker. Thatch is most certainly capable of replicating those results should he fight to his strengths.

In short, his best path to victory is to go after his opponent with his usual aggression. There's plenty of technique to Thatch's particular brand of violence, but overall he simply needs to treat his upcoming opponent like his past foes, regardless of the implications or Henderson's experience.

It's worked so far.

Bottom Line: This should be a highly entertaining fight involving a blue-chip prospect and a former champion.

Henderson is pretty far back from a shot at the lightweight title. At this point, his main concern should be getting back into the win column. A big victory against Thatch wouldn't necessarily move him any closer to the top of the lightweight division, but it's a name that looks good on his record.

That's really the best he can hope for right now.

On the other hand, a loss would leave Henderson stranded. He's been toying with the idea of moving up to welterweight for some time, but a Thatch victory would most certainly dispel those plans.

Thatch has a ton of potential and will get a chance to prove it on a larger stage against Henderson. If he wins in his usual violent fashion, expect him to earn a place in the rankings. So long as Thatch stays healthy, a big win here nets him a high-profile bout in his future.

At the same time, Thatch is not exactly young. He's 29 years old and has been fighting since 2008, meaning that he should be in his prime. If he loses to Henderson, he'll get another chance to take on the highest level, but it's a very bad sign for those hoping he's a future title contender.

At UFC Fight Night 60, Benson Henderson and Brandon Thatch will collide in an impromptu welterweight battle. Which man will earn the victory?

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