Nate Diaz is gearing up for a run at the UFC lightweight title, but depending on the outcome of the championship fight at UFC 144, the bout may not be against current champion Frankie Edgar.
Former WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson is set to face Edgar on February 26 to determine the king of the 155-pound division.
The opponent doesn't necessarily matter to Diaz. He just wants an opportunity to capture a UFC title and finally prove he's one of the best in the world.
While a bout against Edgar would be incredibly tough in its own right, Diaz would have a difficult time dealing with the pressure from Henderson's persistent takedowns and strong top control.
Takedown defense has been a consistent problem with Diaz throughout his career. He tends to rely on his world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as the great equalizer in dealing with strong wrestlers, but his plans typically go awry when the wrestler has great submission defense.
Henderson could be seen as the Harry Houdini of MMA. He has performed some of the most impossible escapes in the past against accomplished grapplers.
Diaz's best chances against Henderson will come in the standup exchanges. Henderson is a decent boxer who has the ability to string together simplified combinations. Diaz should be able to use his range, head movement and pinpoint accuracy to land often on the feet.
Can Diaz keep the bout standing?
This one question could decide the outcome of the entire fight. It's tough to see Diaz stuffing Henderson's takedowns, but in a five-round bout, it leaves plenty of opportunities for the Cesar Gracie student to nab a submission.
Stylistically, this just isn't a good matchup for Diaz. Henderson would be relentless with his takedowns and eat chunks of time off the clock from top position.
"Smooth" takes the unanimous decision.