After taking a stunning unanimous decision victory over Frankie Edgar at last night's UFC 144, newly minted lightweight champion Benson Henderson may have a familiar face as his first UFC title challenger.
Winning Knockout of the Night with a head kick finish over Joe Lauzon also on last night's card in Japan, former WEC champion Anthony Pettis may be next in line to fight for UFC gold. Pettis, the last person to defeat Henderson, stole "Smooth's" lightweight crown once before while in the WEC and will look to do it once again.
While this rematch is not set in stone, there's no doubt that these two will face each other again down the road.
Here's the head-to-toe breakdown of the exciting possible lightweight bout.
Both fighters are solid strikers, and there are very few in the division who can rival their abilities.
Henderson is a very powerful striker, using his heavy hands and hard kicks to bash away at his opponents. Just looking at last night's bout with Frankie Edgar, it was clear that Henderson's strikes did a ton of damage just by the bruises on Edgar's face.
Pettis, however, is definitely the more technical striker. Utilizing an arsenal of creative strikes, Pettis has pinpoint accuracy that makes up for his seeming lack of power.
With multiple head kick knockouts on his resume, Pettis is a dangerous striker with an unorthodox style.
A former All-American collegiate wrestler, Henderson is a powerful wrestler with great take downs and sweeps.
Although his take down defense leaves something to be desired, his ability to quickly get up after being taken to the mat is an invaluable skill that was integral in his taking of the title from Edgar.
Pettis has shown improved wrestling, stemming from his work with Bellator champ Ben Askren, but Henderson's experience and power gives him a huge advantage.
Both Henderson and Pettis are tricky submissions artists with vast knowledge of jiu-jitsu.
Pettis likes to play off his back and utilize his long legs in his guard. Opponents should beware of his slick sweeps, tight triangles and his quick transitions between positions.
Henderson also has a solid guard, but his bread and butter is his guillotine choke. "Smooth" is a vicious choke artist and is deadly in all positions.
Henderson has a huge size and strength advantage over almost everyone in the lightweight division. His muscular frame and athleticism makes for a dangerous combination that few can match.
Since crossing over from the WEC, Henderson has been able to push around virtually everyone the UFC has thrown at him, including the likes of Edgar, Clay Guida and Jim Miller.
Pettis is a great athlete, but in terms of pure strength, Henderson takes it.
Neither fighter is afraid of going the distance, and their back-and-forth WEC 53 battle is a testament to that.
Henderson has shown a penchant for going to a decision since coming to the UFC, winning each fight via decision.
Pettis is a finisher, but has the cardio to help him battle through three or five-round wars.
Henderson: For Henderson, a rematch with Pettis, whether it is his next fight or down the road, will surely be a fight he'll be highly motivated for. As the last person to serve Henderson a loss, the fact that he also took his thunder during the UFC-WEC merger is another revenge factor for Henderson.
In this potential bout, Henderson will have to use his strength and power more than he did in their last meeting. A stand-up battle from long range is what Pettis is great at, so taking this fight to the clinch up against the cage would be Henderson's best move.
On the ground, Henderson will have to keep the top position, as Pettis is a real submission threat and no slouch off his back.
Pettis: Just like their last fight, Pettis should use a similar game plan and pick Henderson apart from the outside while attacking off the ground if he gets taken down.
Utilizing his creative strikes and crafty submissions, Pettis can keep Henderson on his guard and wary of trying to commit to anything. Avoiding the take down should be preferred as well as staying away from the clinch.
Since losing his WEC crown and ending up on the wrong side of the famed "Showtime Kick," Henderson has reinvented himself into one of the most well-rounded and dangerous lightweights in the division.
This laser focus on his training and just his raw talent make it unlikely that Pettis can pull off another off-the-wall kick. However, the former WEC champion will give Henderson a tough fight considering the bag of tricks he has under his sleeve.
Especially if this is Henderson's first fight as the reigning champion, don't expect "Smooth" to drop another close decision in the rematch.
Prediction: Henderson via unanimous decision