Javid Basharat

Bantamweights Javid Basharat and Victor Henry are set to do battle at UFC 294, with the winner possibly securing a shot at a coveted spot in the rankings at 135 lbs.

Basharat is a highly regarded, undefeated talent who will be looking for his fourth straight win in the UFC. Henry, who is coming in as the major underdog, is looking to shock Abu Dhabi and steal the hype of the prospect Basharat.

Betting Odds

The odds heavily favor the undefeated prospect in Basharat, but the gap seems a bit disrespectful given the resilience and experience of Victor Henry.

  • Javid Basharat: -600 (BetUS)
  • Victor Henry: +400 (BetUS)

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Fight Breakdown

Javid is one of two brothers in the Basharat family to have the entire Bantamweight division on notice. Javid is the older of the two at 28 years old and is 14-0 as a pro. Javid is an incredibly technical fighter with an all-around skill set that keeps him calm and comfortable no matter where the fight goes. He has slick striking, deceivingly strong wrestling and unreal footwork that keeps him defensively sound.

Basharat’s striking is based around his movement. With some of the best footwork in the sport, Javid is light on his feet with quick reactions to spring just out of range of his opponent’s offense while effortlessly springing right back into his own range to land. He keeps his feet under him and very rarely overcommits to his strikes, giving him the ability to leap right back out of range when his opponent tries to counter. His 66% strike defense is amongst the highest you’ll see for fighters with three or more fights in the UFC and it is largely due to his reactions and smooth, flowing movement.

When Javid is looking to land his own strikes, he uses feints to draw out reactions of his opponents before firing off his own offense. His fight IQ is on full display here as well as he excels at identifying defensive openings and attacking them with one or two quality shots before exiting the pocket. He does damage with his strikes because they are so well-placed, but he doesn’t throw a lot of power in them. When he does want to hunt for a finish, he targets his opponent with strikes from closer range like knees and elbows. This differs from a lot of fighters who immediately start swinging with powerful punching combos, leaving themselves flat-footed and at risk of being countered. Everything in Basharat’s game is defensively oriented, making sure, first and foremost, that he’s not in danger of taking legit damage before he works his offense.

The wrestling of Basharat has been impressive as well. Going against a high-level wrestler in Tony Gravely, he was able to defend takedowns extremely well, only allowing two on thirteen attempts. When his opponent is able to get to his hips and knows he isn’t in position to dig for underhooks, he creates scrambles with his defense which allows him to reset and defend where he can stuff the head, dig underhooks, etc. His timing on the feet make him a dangerous grappler offensively as well. He times his double and single leg attempts as his opponent goes to strike and has been effective at finishing the takedown from here. He utilizes his upper body to create smothering pressure on his opponent which allows him to transition into better positions for him to work his ground and pound while hunting submissions

While the defense-first mentality of Basharat has been the main factor in his success, it has shown some spots where he may get into trouble as well. Against both Trevin Jones and Mateus Mendonca, we saw Javid’s opponent come forward with their own feints. As Javid is so reliant on his footwork to evade shots, he begins to back up which allows his opponent to continue marching forward with feints and backs him to the cage. He uses good lateral movement to get out of these spots, but a fighter with better footwork may find success in pinning him to the cage where his evasive movement is much less effective.

Mendonca was able to find success with the leg kicks as well against Javid. As he moves out of range, he’s susceptible to the calf kick and, with the way he turns his leg inward when defending, it leaves the meat of the calf wide open for devastating leg kicks. It is worth noting that this, as well as his issues with getting backed to the cage, were early on in the fight and he adjusted nicely to start engaging as his opponent started to begin moving forward with their strikes. His impeccable timing allowed him to land first in these exchanges before disengaging.

His opponent is the 36-year-old Victor Henry. Henry is a seasoned veteran with a 23-6 pro MMA record coming into this weekend. Henry is a well-rounded fighter with eight submission finishes but he’s done most of his work on the feet thus far in the UFC. He’s an extremely entertaining fighter who uses pressure, volume and resilience to break his opponents down and outwork them on the feet while being a danger off his back should his opponent try to take it to the ground.

On the feet, Henry keeps an unreal pace with his constant forward pressure and striking output. Though he’s only fought three times with the UFC, he has 45 minutes in the octagon already. His 8.67 significant strikes per minute over that time would rank third among all active fighters and first in the bantamweight division with Sean O’Malley in second with 7.29 per minute so to say his pace is insane would be an understatement. 

Defensively, he uses a lot of head movement to avoid shots or he’ll roll with the punches to reduce the impact but he rarely stops pushing forward with his own offense. A large part of his success is based around him being able to take the shots coming at him and firing back twice as many. He isn’t the most technically sound striker when he does throw; his shots often loop as he retracts and he can get out of position defensively a lot, leaving him in range for the counters with little place to move his head to avoid them.

Henry has displayed tremendous defense in the wrestling department in his last three bouts, but he has yet to secure a takedown with only two official attempts. With nine submission wins, I’d expect to see him attempt to take the fight to the ground. Though he isn’t attacking from top position, he’s proven to be a handful off his back as he’s constantly throwing up submission attempts to, at the very least, cause scrambles where he can get back to his feet. He mainly attacks armbars and leg locks, requiring him to fold up which does put him in danger of catching ground and pound when he hasn’t got an arm or leg in danger.

It goes without saying but Victor Henry’s motor rarely slows throughout the course of the fight, no matter how grueling of a pace he sets. He slows towards the end of rounds and he becomes easier to hit as the fight wears on, but offensively, he’s always coming forward. This pace has broken a lot of opponents and it is something to watch in this matchup against Basharat who seems to fade a bit when he isn’t able to dictate the pace. Both men have excelled at setting the pace in their fights in opposite ways. Basharat chooses when to engage and when to get out of range to look for openings while Henry forces himself into range and is constantly working to outland his opponent. It’ll be a key factor for both men to focus on setting this pace.

Fight Prediction

While Henry’s pressure and pace could give Basharat trouble over time, I think Javid’s movement and distance management will help him to control how often he has to exchange in the pocket. Victor Henry has a tendency to bait out the left hand as he goes to throw which has made him a bit easy to telegraph when he’s going to fire off his offense.

While this can help when trying to draw out reactions from stationary counter strikers, this is a read Basharat will likely pick up on and he’ll begin to time Henry’s movements to land his shots before getting out of range. Henry has never been finished in 29 pro fights and with Basharat’s last finish coming pre-UFC (on the Contender Series), I’m not willing to bet on him getting the finish.

Prediction: Javid Basharat to win by decision (-150 at BetUS)

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