Benson “Smooth” Henderson (17-2-0) vs. Nate Diaz (16-7-0)
The lightweights are on full display this weekend as Nate Diaz and Benson Henderson headline the latest FOX card. Diaz earned his way to a title shot after taking a second round guillotine choke of perennial top lightweight Jim Miller. ‘Powerful’ win for Diaz, since Miller had never been finished and only had two other losses in his UFC career. Henderson is easily Diaz’s biggest test physically, and mentally in his whole career.
For Henderson, after taking Frankie Edgar’s belt in a close decision, then rematching and defeating the former champion again. Their second match was even closer, but Henderson still came away with the win, despite what fans think. A lot of people are putting emphasis on Diaz’s finishing ability, but those are the type of opponents that Henderson does the best against. Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner have 33 finishes in 39 wins, and Henderson submitted both of them. It is a possibility that when fighters are aggressive they end up falling into “Smooth Henderson’s” game.
Diaz’s biggest threat obviously comes from the ground game, but will he be able to get it there? Henderson has the wrestling to keep the fight standing if he wants, or to take it to the ground which he may do, depending on if he can deal with Diaz’s reach. The reach could play a big factor as Diaz holds a six inch reach advantage and over three inches of height in his favor. Henderson will have to rely on the kicks and ground game to win this fight. He needs to make sure he does not end up in guard as that could be problematic with Diaz’s long limbs.
The Bottom Line:
The title could easily change hands, but nothing in Henderson’s past would make one believe he could be submitted. He may be put in some bad positions, but look for him to take control through the fourth and fifth on his way to a decision win.