UFC Fight Night 112 is very much flying under the radar. This Sunday UFC card has been buried by the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather news, and by Bellator pay-per-view event. Despite not getting much buzz, UFC Fight Night 112 is a solid card that’s headlined by an important lightweight bout between ranked prospects Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee. This event also features a catchweight bout between former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks and Tim Boetsch, a career-defining fight for MMA legend B.J. Penn, and two important women’s strawweight bouts in Felice Herrig vs. Justine Kish, and Carla Esparza vs. Maryna Moroz.
What: UFC Fight Night 112
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla.
When: Sunday, June 25. The three-fight UFC Fight Pass preliminary card begins at 5:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight FOX Sports 2 preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card begins at 9 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Lee
This is a very important fight for the lightweight division, as we could be looking at a future title challenger here.
Michael Chiesa, ranked just one spot outside the top five of the division, is finally returning to action after being sidelined by a back injury. Chiesa is hoping to pick up where he left off, and build on his current three-fight winning streak that includes submission wins over Jim Miller and most recently Beneil Dariush. The 29-year-old fighter has a very big frame for the division, and possesses great striking and dangerous grappling. Meanwhile, Kevin Lee, ranked No. 11, might not as well rounded as Chiesa, but his ground game is more dangerous. The 24-year-old has racked up four wins in a row utilizing strong takedowns, and phenomenal grappling technique on the ground. Lee is one of the best ground fighters in the lightweight division.
This is an evenly matched contest, and the winner here should become a major player in 155-pound weight class. So let’s take look at a couple of factors that will likely determine the outcome of this fight.
The five-round built: This will likely be a high-paced fight with a lot of grappling, so conditioning will be a big factor here. Lee always comes in shape, but I think his frame is better suited for a three-round fight. Lee is 5 feet 9 inches tall and packs a lot of muscle. I’ve seen this enhance his takedowns and positions on the ground, but I’ve also seen his frame and fighting style slow him down in the later rounds. Chiesa, on the other hand, is a big lightweight but that’s due to his frame, not his muscles. I haven’t really seen Chiesa lose much steam during his fights, and he seems to have a sustainable fighting style for a 25-minute contest. I believe Chiesa will be the fresher guy in the later rounds, and that’s a huge advantage if the fight does go the distance.
Quick hands vs. low hands: Lee is not a bad striker, but he does have a dangerous tendency of keeping his hands low, specially as the fight progresses. We saw Leonardo Santos and Francisco Trinaldo capitalize on Lee having his low in their respective fights. Chiesa doesn’t carry the same amount of power as those Brazilians so I don’t think he’ll score a one-punch knockout, but I can see him taking advantage of that and earning some points on the scorecards. Also, I think there is a difference in hand speed here in favor of Chiesa. I don’t think it’s huge, but you add the fact that Chiesa has the better striking, and you got a significant advantage on the feet for Chiesa.
Prediction: This should be a great fight. Lee is the stronger and more dominant grappler here (by a lot), but I didn’t include it above because I don’t think that will be a decisive factor. See, Chiesa is very game on the ground and I find him to be skilled enough to survive any ugly positions or submission from Lee. I think Lee will start strong and take an early lead with his takedowns and top control. But probably after the second round, I see Chiesa’s resilience, and superior cardio and striking really kicking in and making a difference in the fight. I’m seeing a decision or late finish here.
Tim Boetsch vs. Johny Hendricks
This is a good fight for Hendricks. Boetsch is solid opposition, but the skill set that he brings to the table doesn’t happen to pose a huge threat to the former champ.
Boetsch is tough, physical power house with good wrestling and respectable knockout power. Hendricks might the the cleaner and more polished version of Boetsch, as he has better boxing technique, and a more complex wrestling game. I felt pretty confident picking Hendricks until he missed weight yesterday morning. Historically, fighters who miss weight have subpar performances, and with a heart like Boetsch, there’s definitely some room for an upset.
Either way, I think Hendricks should be okay and still have a slight advantage almost anywhere, even with a lackluster showing.
Felice Herrig vs. Justine Kish
I think many are picking Justine Kish, and I can kind of see why.
Justine Kish doesn’t excel at anything specifically, but she’s very well-rounded. She can strike, she can grapple and on top of that she’s durable and extremely athletic. Kish is also relentless with her pressure, which could give Felice Herrig issues as she has fallen to pressure fighters before as seen most recently in the Paige VanZant fight.
However, Herrig is one of the most experienced fighters in the division and I don’t think Kish will bring anything Herrig hasn’t seen before. I find Herrig to be one of the best fighters in the division. I just think that in the past she’s failed to be mentally in the fight. But having taken a year-long break, Herrig seems to be in a good place at the moment and that has shown in her last two performances. The top-15 strawweight has the better striking, and the more technical ground game here. I see her using a lot of movement and picking apart Kish from the outside.
Joachim Christensen vs. Dominick Reyes
I’m split in this one.
Dominick Reyes is an undefeated talent that shows a good deal of promise. Reyes is quick, young, and possesses diverse striking arsenal with decent technique and big power behind it. The 27-year-old light heavyweight started his career less than 3 years ago and remains very inexperienced. I think he might be getting rushed to the UFC due his flashiness, but this is someone that could definitely use a few more fights. Joachim Christensen is probably the most favorable match-up for Reyes in the division. Christensen is not very dangerous fighter, and is up there in age. Christensen is tough, has some solid boxing and a good amount of experience.
I can see the veteran capitalizing on his experience and pulling some crafty moves Reyes, but I can also see Reyes just simply outworking the much older Christensen. Difficult pick but I’m leaning towards the later outcome.
Tim Means vs. Alex Garcia
I’m really curious to see how this fight plays out, both fighters couldn’t have more contrasting fighting styles.
Tim Means has lanky frame for the division and utilizes it well in his fights. Means likes to beat his opposition through reach and volume strikes, and some dirty boxing from the clinch. “The Dirty Bird” is one of the tougher and grittier fighters of the division, he reminds me a lot of Josh Neer. His opponent, Alex Garcia, is one of the shorter fighters of the weight class, but that has allowed him to pack an insane amount of muscle onto his frame. The Dominican is a ridiculous athlete with explosive and agile movement. Garcia can end the fight with a punch at any given time, but can also use his power takedowns and dominant ground game to win bouts.
This bout should be fun. I think both fighters will good moments throughout the fight, but I see Garcia’s dominant ground game getting him a decision here.
B.J. Penn vs. Dennis Siver
This must be a do or die for B.J. Penn. I have a hard time seeing the UFC give Penn another chance if he were to come up short in this one.
Penn, a former UFC lightweight and welterweight champ, is attempting once again to jumpstart his fighting career. The 38-year-old fighter tried to get things going earlier this year, but was completely dominated and stopped by the much younger Yair Rodriguez. Penn hasn’t won a fight since 2010, and is currently on a four-fight losing streak. The Hawaiian had some of the best striking and grappling in the game, but today that seems to be a thing of the past. Meanwhile, Dennis Siver is in a similar position, but to a lesser degree. The 38-year-old German fighter hasn’t fought since 2015, and is on a two-fight skid. Siver has decent wrestling and solid technique on the ground, but he’s really known for his crisp kickboxing.
I don’t believe there is much fight left in each competitor, but I think Siver should be the more preserved fighter here. Unlike Penn, Siver still managed to look game in his recent losses. I see Siver using his takedown defense and superior striking to outpoint the Hawaiian.
Erik Koch def. Clay Guida
Marvin Vettori def. Vitor Miranda
Carla Esparza def. Maryna Moroz
Darrell Horcher def. Devin Powell
Jared Gordon def. Michel Quinones
Tony Martin def. Johnny Case
Josh Stansbury def. Jeremy Kimball