The climax of Nate Diaz's career is merely days away, as anticipation for his first championship bout with Benson Henderson continues to grow.
The UFC saved its best card of the year for UFC on FOX 5. From B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson, the card is rich full of intriguing matchups.
But there's none more intriguing than the main event.
The lightweight division is the most stacked division the UFC has to offer, with Henderson and Diaz standing alone at the top.
Henderson, who's 17-2, recently defended his lightweight championship belt against former champ Frankie Edgar in an immediate rematch to solidify his claim as best in the division. Both of his wins against Edgar were hard-fought, and some people believe Edgar was robbed of the judges in their last encounter.
But don't let that take anything away from Henderson. He is, without a doubt, one of the best fighters on the planet, with 15 wins in his last 16 fights against tough, durable fighters such as Edgar, Mark Bocek, Clay Guida, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller.
And while Henderson's victories against Cerrone and Miller were impressive, they weren't near as impressive as Diaz's victories over those same opponents.
Though Diaz is on a three-fight win streak, he's impressed more with the way he's won.
Unlike Henderson's quick guillotine victory and grind-em-out decision against Cerrone, Diaz beat Cerrone from pillar to post for three consecutive rounds last December. With pinpoint boxing and an unrelenting pace, Diaz gave Cerrone a beatdown no one would soon forget.
This set up the UFC on FOX 3 main event, Diaz vs. Miller. Simply put, Diaz didn't disappoint. After picking him apart on the feet and dropping him in the first round, Diaz became the first fighter ever to finish Miller. Diaz submitted Miller in the second round by guillotine choke.
Now here we are. This Saturday will undoubtedly be the biggest fight of Diaz's career, and with a prime-time matchup set against Henderson, fans are anticipating a fight of the night performance.
Keys to Victory for Henderson
Unfortunately, if Henderson does what he needs to do, this fight will not excite fans. In order to win this fight, Henderson must lean on his size advantage.
Muscling Diaz against the cage should become the top priority for Henderson.
This will lead to a decision victory that will not excite the fans, but it will ensure Henderson that he leaves town with the belt. At the end of the day, which is more important?
Don't be surprised if this is the game plan in place for Henderson.
Keys to Victory for Diaz
Oddly enough, the key to victory for Diaz is to make this fight exciting. Diaz needs to make this a real scrap so he can utilize his great boxing skills against Henderson.
Furthermore, he needs to make this a war of attrition. The Diaz brothers are all about going full-throttle for the entire length of the fight.
With countless body shots and counter shots, Diaz must take it to the champion and not allow him to grab a hold of him. If Henderson takes it to the ground, Diaz must work off of his back and try to become the first man to submit Henderson under the Zuffa brand.
What Will Likely Happen
When it comes down to the fight, expect both Henderson and Diaz to find success. Diaz will implement a flurry of punches on the feet that will eventually lead to Henderson clinching and muscling around the much weaker Diaz.
But Diaz should have enough technique to cause some separation and light Henderson up. Henderson will then be tempted to engage with Diaz, and fans will be treated to some nice exchanges.
But they will be short-lived. As smart as Henderson is, he'll clinch up and take it to the ground if he has to, where he must avoid being submitted by Diaz. If any man is up to that task, it would be Henderson.
Though he gets caught in submissions quite frequently, Henderson is nearly impossible to submit. Take a look back at Henderson's first fight with Cerrone to see exactly what I'm talking about. It's as if Henderson is made of rubber, and he'll need his flexibility in this fight, undoubtedly.
Henderson should do enough to win each round, and though Diaz will have his moments in the fight, Henderson will win another close decision when it's all said and done.