An almost unprecedented move this week as the event that once was UFC 196 has become UFC Fight Night 82 following the loss of the original main event.

There are some decent names on show in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night in an event that could turn out a lot more fun than its planning went. As always I’ll hopefully be proving the winners and 5Dimes will be providing the odds.

Benavidez v Makovsky:

It’s unfortunate for Joseph Benavidez that his latest bout is enshrouded in mystery over whether he is or isn’t a full-time member at Team Alpha Male. Following TJ Dillashaw to Team Elevation in Colorado, Benavidez will be looking to continue the striking improvements under the continued tutelage of Duane Ludwig. Benavidez is in a strange position at 125lbs given the dominance displayed by Demetrious Johnson; with two losses already to the champion it will take a seismic shift for Joe to get another title shot although his position as #2 fighter in the division remains unaltered.

Zack Makovsky looks to rebound from a defeat to John Dodson at UFC 187. That defeat took Bellator veteran Makovsky to 3-2 in the UFC, with every fight going by way of decision. Early in his career he was a submission machine but eight straight fights going the distance has somewhat cast dispersions on his ability off his back.

I feel like the bookies are cutting my throat on this fight; Benavidez can’t be touched at -470 so we are forced to look elsewhere for value. Props on finishes are high odds, why? Because they won’t happen, not here. It’s all about going the distance and as I think Benavidez will take this comfortably I am forced to take that bet.

Recommendation: Benavidez wins by 3 round decision – 2 units at -140 (7/10) @ 5Dimes

Saint Preux v Cavalcante:

Ovince St Preux, OSP to his friends, is an athlete like almost no other. Otherworldly in cardio and strength he has a tendency to run into brick walls when faced with top 5 level opponents, to which Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader and Gegard Mousasi will attest. OSP is at his best facing an opponent where he can really let his hands do the talking and where he holds the edge in sheer athleticism and this could be a match made to really showcase his talents.

The former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion, Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante was one of the most feared names in MMA. With the collapse of Strikeforce and the transition to the UFC Cavalcante was still a ripe 31 and very much in the prime of his life. A record of 1-3 in the UFC tarnishes how good this man was and his feared striking has now departed, perhaps never to be seen again.

As much as I’d like to say it will, what once was shall never be again. Cavalcante has been something of a standard bearer for MMA in Brazil but the thing he will be remembered for in the near future is as the only man to beat Yoel Romero. It’s been a torrid time for Feijao under the UFC banner with a single win to his name and OSP should do enough to finish this inside the distance. Cavalcante retains a punchers chance, always, but it’s a likelihood I won’t be betting on.

Recommendation: Saint Preux wins inside distance – 3 units at -235 (4/9) @ 5Dimes

Nelson v Rosholt:

Roy Nelson finds himself with his back firmly planted against the wall this weekend as he looks to snap a three fight skid, as another loss and it is surely out of the UFC for him. With a sole win in almost 3 years, and that over Big Nog, this is a very different Roy Nelson to the one who finished Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione and Dave Herman inside a round. Going 1-5 is pink slip contention; 1-6 means curtains so for ‘Big Country’ the stakes this weekend really couldn’t be higher.

Jared Rosholt is actually riding high in the UFC, standing at a record of 6-1, pretty much the exact opposite of his opponent on Saturday. Barring Stefan Struve, the level of fighters that Rosholt has secured the win over is nowhere near the calibre of those faced by Nelson, but you can only beat the man in front of you. It is a damning indictment of the state of Heavyweight MMA at this level that the winner of this fight likely breaks the top 10. In Rosholt’s case, for the very first time and the manner of his win over Struve will have done little to endear him to anyone.

This is a hard fight to get excited about and as a co-main event it’s even less interesting to think about. Nelson is winding his career down and has never been the most exciting fighter to watch while Rosholt has laid and prayed his way to three consecutive wins. In a case of dog or pass I’ll take the dog. Rosholt can win this but it won’t be pretty, or interesting, or fun and you won’t be able to wait for it to end.

Recommendation: Jared Rosholt – 2 units at +140 (7/5) @ 5Dimes

Hendricks v Thompson:

With the loss of the main event Johny Hendricks finds himself cast in the role of unlikely hero for the UFC. Forced out of a prior bout due to complications from the weight cut it was intimated that the former 170lb champion may be forced to compete at Middleweight. While that option remains open it is at 170lbs where he stays for now. Originally booked for a three round fight this has now become five rounds and given that Hendricks has been there in three of his last four fights it should be an area that he remains more than comfortable in and well-conditioned for.

Stephen Thompson is entering into new territory with this bout. Firstly, it’s his debut over five rounds, which in itself is daunting. Secondly, he has never competed in a co-main event; let alone taking the role of headliner. Finally, and most importantly, this is the toughest opponent he has faced in his career; bar none. A lone defeat to Matt Brown underlines how impressive Thompson has been and clearly the matchmakers see him as a title challenger of the future.

For me, Johny Hendricks is the 2nd best fighter at 170lbs in the whole of MMA right now. But for three razor thin decisions, two of them by split decision, he could actually be undefeated with at least three successful defences under his belt. An elite level wrestler he will look to get Thompson to the ground or against the cage and grind him down. If he gets the chance to let his left hand go then a knockout is not outside of the realms of possibility. Thomson shouldn’t be disregarded though as that spinning wheel kick he possesses is as much of an equaliser as Hendricks overhand left. I won’t be backing against Hendricks though, and he takes another step towards reclaiming his title.

Recommendation: Johny Hendricks – 2 unit at -210 (1/2) @ 5Dimes