The headliner of UFC on FOX 5, pitting champion Benson Henderson against the ever-improving Nate Diaz, should by all accounts be a thrilling affair. Both Henderson and Diaz have mastered their styles and both rely on high quantity output to guide them to victory.
While these two have opposing attitudes, they share a few in-cage traits—the most significant being the refusal to relent. Both men will aim to win this fight, but they’ll likely use two completely different approaches. Whose plan of attack will emerge superior is a mystery at this point, but one thing seems certain: These two will put on one stimulating show.
Having thrown some general redundancy out there for you, I’m going to switch gears a bit. Here’s a handful of predictions that go against the anticipated grain of the fight.
Henderson showcases some fantastic movement. His lateral work is quite impressive and his ability to close the distance, deliver some damage and exit the pocket unscathed is a thing of beauty. However, Henderson isn’t always fighting southpaws with a six-inch reach advantage.
Nate’s elongated arms and frame will make him a tougher outing for Henderson. Fans know it, and I’m certain Benson knows it. Look for the champion to devise a game plan that ensures he can land his own shots without devouring four of Diaz’s in return.
Fans expect a remarkably high level of output in this fight, and that’s not a stretch of a prediction. These are two busy fighters. But high output or not, Nate won’t be hitting Benson nearly as much as he’d like.
Henderson’s wrestling is good enough that he’ll have some confidence in his ability to take Nate down. And he more than likely will. However, I see Diaz shocking a lot of the naysayers out there by stuffing a handful of the champion’s shots, especially in the bout’s later rounds. In fact, don't be completely baffled to see Nate attempt to drag this fight to the mat himself.
Nate may be snug under a blanket for a while in this fight, but it won’t be permanent; he’ll find his way to his feet and continue on in the mission to break the champion from the vertical position.
I know that this fight looks terrific on paper. Diaz never lets down, and Benson is a diverse fighter. However, styles make fights, and Benson Henderson wants to keep his belt.
I suspect we’ll see that elusive planning from Henderson that I mentioned earlier, and I suspect it leads to a frustrating fight. Anticipate stretches of relative inactivity, as Henderson will do just enough work to keep the referee from tossing out a warning while picking up pieces of points as the rounds unravel.
It’s going to be a somewhat stale fight…for three or four rounds.
Henderson’s in-and-out attack will work for a handful of rounds, and he’ll do enough to position himself ahead on the scorecards heading into the championship rounds, but Nate’s going to catch up with him. The resolve of the Stockton native is near unmatched, and it’s going to be on full display tomorrow night.
Henderson will manage to push Diaz’s buttons with his bouncy style, but Diaz will turn the tide late in Round 4 after landing something clean enough to rattle Henderson a bit. A brief but wild exchange will ensue, and Nate will find himself with a limb (or neck) locked tight enough to signal a changing of the lightweight guard.
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