Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz: Round-by-Round Recap and Analysis
UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson defends his belt for the second time when he faces challenger Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 5 Saturday night.
Henderson (17-2) hasn't lost in five fights under the UFC banner. At UFC 144 in April, Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar to capture the strap, then defended the title in a rematch with Edgar last summer.
Diaz (16-7) has been on a tear since returning to the 155-pound division, earning a shot at the belt by defeating Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller.
This may be the most anticipated collision the UFC has ever offered on free television. Read on for round-by-round analysis as the fight unfolds.
We're in good hands, as the great Herb Dean is your referee for the five-round title fight. (Have we lost weight, Herb?)
Action begins, and Bendo lands first with an outside leg kick. Henderson misses a punch, and Diaz clinches him to the fence, working the lower body with knees. Diaz tries a throw, but nothing doing. Bendo gets underhooks and tries to drag him down, but Diaz resists.
Both men staying busy with strikes, though nothing major. Diaz getting the better of it; they break, and Diaz lands an elbow on the way out. Bendo tries single leg and gets it. Bendo drops hammerfists, but Diaz pops up. Announcers keep saying Bendo looks like a football player, but he's 155 pounds...I don't get it.
Diaz appears to slip but gets back up. Diaz trying to stalk, but Bendo is clinching him up and keeping him at bay with leg kicks. Round ends with them clinched against the fence. Very close round.
Score: 10-9 Henderson
Round starts with Bendo takedown, and he's landing big shots. Diaz pops up, but Bendo lands a big kick and then a right hand. Now they're clinched against the fence, and Henderson's kneeing those legs again and grinding an elbow or two into Diaz's skull.
They break up, and now Diaz wants to go to the boxing, but Bendo is dancing away, using leg kicks and keeping his head on a swivel.
Huge left hook from Bendo floors Diaz. Bendo swarms and pounds him. Diaz gives up his back, and Bendo takes it. Diaz gets back up, but now he's bleeding in earnest. Bendo mushes him back against the fence, and Diaz cannot get any breathing room.
Diaz executes a toss, but Bendo's right back up. Diaz bent over as if tired, and I think that leg is bothering him.
Round: 10-9 Henderson
Third stanza starts, and Diaz knows he's got to do something.
Bendo right back to the leg kick. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Diaz really arming his punches to compensate for diminished leg thrust. It's not working for Diaz, though it's working great for Bendo.
Takedown for Bendo, and they scramble. Both back up. Then another takedown for Bendo, and Diaz pulls guard. He might be fishing for something or looking for a wrist, but neither is working.
Nate's on the ground, and both men are looking for ankle or toe holds on the other. Bendo transitions over to Diaz's back in a big scramble, and we're back to center with Diaz on the ground and Bendo standing over him.
They stand up. Diaz tries a little taunting, and Bendo absolutely clocks him. Diaz hits the mat. Diaz haters have to be loving that.
Bendo back on top of Diaz, doing the hammerfists and what not. Round ends that way.
Score: 10-9 Henderson
New round much like the old round. Bendo hitting takedowns and then taking the back and bombing away.
Diaz pops up, but then it's the clinch and another takedown. Bendo is in full control here. Give him credit: Bendo came in with a great game plan, and he's executing it to perfection. He is perfectly utilizing his physical advantages.
Halfway through the fourth, and Bendo is still on top and now in half guard. Diaz looking for a kimura but gives it up. Those Hail Mary submissions seem to be, in Nate's mind, his best chance.
Nate is now on the ground with Bendo standing over him. Did Nate just give him the "come on" taunt? I hope not. That would be vintage Mayhem-Bisping right there.
Bendo seems content to let Diaz lie there. Diaz pops up right as the round ends.
Score: 10-9 Henderson
Final round begins, and barring a deus ex machina, this one's a dead man walking.
Surprise! Bendo clinches Diaz up against the fence and holds him there. Both men are tired, and the action has an academic feel to it.
Bendo lands a big slam, seemingly for fun. He gets up and stands over Diaz before raining some blows down. Diaz covers up and then gives up his back. He pops up, and then Bendo clinches him up against the fence. Such a consistent, disciplined effort from Benson Henderson.
Another takedown for Bendo, and we're at the two-minute mark. Diaz constantly giving up his back.
One minute left now, and Bendo lands a big head kick. Twenty seconds left, and now they're duking it out. Diaz tapping his chin as if to say "take a shot." The final horn sounds, and it's a dominant title defense for Benson Henderson. He's a pretty good champion.
Round score: 10-9 Henderson
Final fight score: 50-45 Henderson
Official judges' decision: 50-43, 50-45, 50-45. Benson Henderson defeats Nate Diaz by unanimous decision to retain UFC Lightweight Championship.