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Benson Henderson's Next Fight: Head-to-Toe Breakdown vs. Nate Diaz

Cody GuinnContributor IIINovember 13, 2016

Benson Henderson's Next Fight: Head-to-Toe Breakdown vs. Nate Diaz

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    Last night, Ben Henderson once again defeated former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar by decision. This contest was much closer than their last meeting—a split decision which felt the wrong man won.

    Nonetheless, Dana White has said no more rematches, and Nate Diaz will face Henderson next (per MMA Weekly).

    Diaz is coming off possibly one of his most impressive performances—a fight against Jim Miller back in May—and will now have a chance at UFC gold.

    The matchup is an exciting one and one that I can't wait for, so let's take a look at how the two match up on paper with the Henderson-Diaz head-to-toe breakdown.

Striking

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    The battle that will play out on the feet is what I'm most excited to see.

    Henderson's striking is taekwondo-based, and he uses a lot of unorthodox kicks, knees, punches and elbows. In his first bout with Edgar, he landed one of the most vicious up-kicks of all time.

    Last night, from his back, he hopped up on one hand and landed a head kick. 

    When it comes to Diaz, it's is boxing that's scariest. He's always been a threat due to his constant pressure, but since returning to lightweight, the Nate Diaz we've seen has not only been applying constant pressure, but his accuracy has been downright deadly.

    I looked back at Henderson's matchup with Anthony Pettis back in the WEC when picking the advantage here. 

    Henderson struggled with Pettis constantly while coming forward, and when it comes to pressure, it doesn't get any better than the Diaz brothers.

    Advantage: Nate Diaz

Wrestling

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    The wrestling advantage will be entirely with Ben Henderson.

    If Nate Diaz has had one struggle in his career, it is with powerful wrestlers. Now, Henderson doesn't use his wrestling very often; nonetheless, he does have it at all times in his back pocket.

    If Henderson feels overwhelmed by Diaz at any point, you can expect to see Henderson exploit Diaz's weakness and try to use his wrestling to get the upper hand.

    Advantage: Ben Henderson

Grappling

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    On the ground, both men have very nice and tricky submissions, and it'll come down to who'll make the best use of it.

    Henderson has eight submission wins including submissions against Anthony Njokuani, Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone.

    Diaz has 11 submission victories and has won two of his last three fights with submissions.

    This one is just another skill that both men are close to equal in, but if I had to pick one guy by submission, Diaz is the one I can see utilizing his grappling game the best.

    Advantage: Nate Diaz

Strength and Conditioning

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    Strength is, once again, another toss-up. Henderson has some powerful legs and has shown his power in his hands as well by rocking Clay Guida.

    Diaz relies more on his hand speed than his power, but there is still no question that Diaz has power in his hands.

    The Diaz brothers are known for their cardio, but mostly because Nick has fought many championship fights.

    Nate has never been out of the third round in his MMA career, so if the bout goes to the championship rounds, will Nate's hand speed and ability all still be there?

    Henderson has now fought back-to-back twenty-five minute fights and has gone the championship distance four times in his career. Henderson looked very conditioned last night after five rounds, and last night's bout was at altitude in Denver.

    It's close, but I think Henderson edges out Diaz here.

    Advantage: Ben Henderson

Experience

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    Experience is a tough topic to judge, especially with two fighters like Henderson and Diaz.

    Henderson has now faced the previous top lightweight in the world in back-to-back to fights and came out victorious. He also has wins against Jim Miller, Clay Guida, Jamie Varner and has defeated Donald Cerrone twice.

    Diaz came into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter and has since been one of the most active fighters in both the light and welterweight division. 

    Diaz has defeated the likes of Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone, Takanori Gomi and Melvin Guillard.

    The championship experience is the deciding factor to me, and that goes, of course, to the champ Henderson.

    Advantage: Ben Henderson

Prediction

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    This, in my opinion, is going to be one of the best lightweight fights of the year.

    Nate Diaz has never been in a boring fight and I highly doubt that will change against a guy like Benson Henderson with the championship on the line.

    Diaz has all the tools to be the champion. Solid stand-up, great grappling, a tough chin, and, well, the signature "Diaz-Style."

    Henderson is full of tools as well and has shown time and time again that he improves each fight. So, who will come out on top?

    I think the time off will make Diaz a better fighter, and although Diaz and the last man to defeat Henderson, Anthony Pettis, are two very different fighters, I believe this fight will be very similar to that one.

    Diaz will press forward, not allow Henderson to set up any of his flashy kicks and in the end, Diaz will take the lightweight championship to the 209.

    Prediction: Nate Diaz wins by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 48-47) to become new lightweight champion.

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