Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz Head-to-Toe Breakdown
After successfully defending the UFC lightweight title for the first time at UFC 150, Benson Henderson is now 2-0 against former champion Frankie Edgar, and a trilogy will not come to fruition anytime soon.
UFC president Dana White confirmed that the next man to challenge for the title will be Cesar Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Nate Diaz.
Diaz earned his title shot on the strength of three convincing wins over the likes of Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller.
Although his most recent win was controversial, Henderson is 5-0 under the UFC banner and will be a difficult matchup for anyone at 155 pounds.
Let's see how these two top-tier lightweight match up against one another.
The Diaz brothers are known for finding their range and practically boxing their opponents to death early and often in fights, but they aren't known for their punching power.
Henderson is a hulking lightweight, walking around at a weight of roughly 190 pounds, so he certainly packs a decent amount of power in his punch.
Bendo also has legs like an NFL running back, so couple that with his black belt in Taekwondo and you have a fighter who can throw some dangerous kicks with some seriously bad intentions.
This category is probably closer than a lot of people will give it credit for, but it's tough to argue against Diaz here based on his recent performances.
Advantage: Nate Diaz
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Henderson is a former NAIA All-American wrestler and those skills have translated well into the Octagon. The 28-year-old has showcased excellent takedowns and takedown defense inside the cage.
Meanwhile, Nate Diaz has had some issues against well-rounded grapplers in his career. Joe Stevenson, Clay Guida, Dong-Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald all used their superior wrestling and submission defense to defeat Diaz.
Diaz typically relies on his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills when the fight hits the ground, to the point where he really doesn't mind getting taken down and rarely looks for the takedown himself.
The advantage is clear here.
Advantage: Benson Henderson
Benson Henderson is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, but he has shown incredible submission defense that would make most black belts' jaws hit the ground.
Henderson is a regular competitor in GI BJJ tournaments and it has clearly helped his technique for MMA. Look no further than his wins over Donald Cerrone (the first fight at WEC 43), Jim Miller and the recent victory over Frankie Edgar to see how unbelievable Bendo is at escaping submissions.
His offensive jiu-jitsu is no joke either, possessing a particularly nasty guillotine choke.
Diaz, as previously stated a Cesar Gracie black belt in BJJ, is known for his slick submissions once the fight hits the mat, possessing 11 submissions in 16 career victories.
The lanky lightweight is known for his very active guard and a great guillotine choke to counteract a takedown attempt.
While we could see some entertaining grappling exchanges in this one, an early submission stoppage doesn't seem likely.
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Benson Henderson is no stranger to going five rounds, and he has never come close to gassing out. Of course, the Diaz brothers are also known for their non-stop cardio.
However, given that Diaz has never been inside the cage for 25 minutes before, it makes sense that Henderson has a slight advantage here (he's been involved in four 25-minute fights before).
Realistically, cardio is highly unlikely to be a factor in this one, but the slightest of all advantages goes to Henderson due to experience.
Advantage: Benson Henderson
And the Winner Is....
Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
While Diaz will no doubt push the pace and test Henderson, Bendo's marked advantage in the wrestling and size department will allow him to dictate where the fight takes place if he does indeed come up short in the standup battle.
Diaz will threaten with a number of deep submissions off his back, but Henderson's ground and pound and remarkable submission defense will guide him to another close unanimous decision victory.
Benson Henderson via unanimous decision