Henderson vs. Diaz: A Career Timeline to UFC on FOX Title Fight
For some big fights—and certainly title fights—I like to take a look back at each fighter's career and timeline and how he got to this point.
Benson Henderson is set to defend his title for the second time, and after ending his feud with former champion Frankie Edgar, he will take on a bigger man in challenger Nate Diaz. Both men have lived different lives and took different paths to get to this point.
Let's take a look.
Benson Henderson, 21 years old
While the Korean-African American grows up taking Taekwondo and living a devoutly Christian life, he begins wrestling in high school and flourishes into a two-time All-American as he ends college.
He hasn't had his first professional MMA fight yet.
Nate Diaz, 19 years old
While following the early career success of his older brother, rising MMA star Nick Diaz, Nate takes his first professional fight against Alex Garcia at WEC 12 in California.
Diaz wins his debut via triangle choke submission in the third round.
Benson Henderson, 23 years old
After compiling a 2-1 amateur record, he makes his pro debut on November 18th in North Platte, Nebraska and gains a submission (punches) win over Dan Gregary at the end of the first round.
It is his only fight in 2006.
Nate Diaz, 21 years old
Diaz goes through the gauntlet in 2006, taking a total of five fights. He starts his year with a win at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Gracie and then wins three more in a row before he gets a shot at the WEC lightweight title against Hermes Franca.
Diaz loses to Franca via second round arm bar submission.
Benson Henderson, 25 years old
Henderson is just starting to get into his career and takes two fights in Canada in the Maximum Fighting Championships based in Edmonton. He wins both fights via submission to improve his record to 6-1.
He finishes out the year with a unanimous decision win over Diego Saraiva in Phoenix, Arizona.
He is 7-1 in his career, and the WEC is in his sights.
Nate Diaz, 23 years old
Diaz is coming off a 2007 in which he won The Ultimate Fighter 5 with a win over Manny Gamburyan and is signed by the UFC. He already has his first UFC win, a submission over Junior Assuncao.
Diaz continues to roll in his career with three wins in 2008, all in impressive fashion. He gets consecutive Submission of the Night wins over Alvin Robinson and Kurt Pellegrino and then ends his year with a huge win over veteran Josh Neer, where he wins a Fight of The Night bonus. He is 10-2 in his career and 5-0 in the UFC.
Benson Henderson, 27 years old
Henderson ends his 2009 on a three-fight winning streak with wins over some of the best in the WEC. He defeated Anthony Njokuani and Shane Roller and then won the interim Lightweight title by defeating Donald Cerrone.
He starts 2010 with a title fight against Jamie Varner to unify the WEC Lightweight title. Henderson defeats Varner via guillotine choke in the third round to become the undisputed WEC Lightweight champion. He then wins a rematch with Cerrone in his first title defense, submitting him with a guillotine choke in the first round.
He is 12-1 in his career.
Nate Diaz, 25 years old
Diaz is coming off a tough 2009 in which he suffered losses to Clay Guida and Joe Stevenson, but he bounced back in his last fight with a win over Melvin Guillard. Amazingly, Diaz has six consecutive fight bonuses in his pocket entering 2010.
He loses a tough split decision to Gray Maynard to start the year and then his camp makes the career decision to move up and compete at welterweight. Diaz debuts with win over Rory Markham at a catch weight and then defeats Marcus Davis to end the year at welterweight.
He is 13-5 in his career.
Benson Henderson, 29 years old (17-2)
Henderson is now the undisputed UFC Lightweight champion after beating Frankie Edgar in Japan in February to win the title. The fight was close and controversial, so the two went at it again in August, when Henderson got the decision again.
With Edgar in his rear view and the belt around his waist, Henderson will now take on the bigger and much different Nate Diaz this weekend in his second title defense.
Henderson has a power edge in the stand up game, as he throws his punches and kicks to hurt you every single time. He does give up some skill on the ground compared to Diaz, but due to his compact physique and uncanny dexterity, he has never been submitted.
Wrestling is absolutely on Henderson's side and could be the major difference in the outcome of this fight.
Nate Diaz, 27 years old (16-7)
After his brief and unsuccessful time at welterweight, Diaz is back at home in the lightweight division and comes into this fight on a three-fight win streak. His destruction of Jim Miller in May earned him his title shot and is his only fight this year.
Diaz employs the famed Diaz boxing style of punches in bunches with cumulative damage being the goal. He has incredible range at 155 and the cardio to throw all night long. His Jiu-Jitsu is among the best in the division, and he can also do damage from his back.
If there is one flaw in Diaz' game it would be takedown defense and wrestling overall. If Henderson can take Diaz down and stay out of danger while on top, this could be a very similar fight to the GSP-Condit title fight that we just had and a long night for Diaz.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca UFC.