Oh, hello, plate of crow, nice to see you again.
Often, in the world of sports journalism, writers like myself are forced to take back prior assertions and face reality. Sometimes we suck, and I'm not above admitting that.
Enter Benson Henderson.
Prior to his fight against Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 5, I gave him the worst odds of any current or interim champ at making the UFC Hall of Fame.
In addition, any time Nate Diaz popped up in a slideshow of mine, I labelled him "future lightweight champion Nathan Diaz."
I did not see Henderson as a legitimate champion; I thought Frankie Edgar soundly defeated him in their second encounter at UFC 150, and I thought his skill set as champion was only good enough for that singular controversial defense.
Nate Diaz was a better boxer, he had a better ground game, and his constant pressure would throw Bendo off his game and force him into rookie mistakes.
No, no and no.
Henderson masterfully controlled the pace of this fight, and he got the better of Diaz in all areas of the game. Diaz looked flustered and confused, and Bendo's riddle proved unsolvable for 209's finest (and he is 209's finest).
The champ was utterly dominant, and he proved to me that he belongs atop the lightweight-division rankings after dismantling the dangerous Diaz.
This being said, I'm still not quite sold on Bendo as a great champion.
Like Georges St-Pierre, Henderson controls the pace of his fights and overwhelms his opponents with excellent control and a calculated approach. He is a mathematician, and his opponents can't solve the formula he dishes out.
You see, Henderson is an excellent rounds fighter. He knows what it takes to win, and he does just that. He never blitzes for a finish, and he's never looking to completely dismantle his foe. He wins, and he wins convincingly.
That's good. In fact, that's sensational. In such a stacked division, earning a title shot—let alone capturing the belt and defending it—is impressive.
The fact remains that Bendo does not strike me as some indestructible force of nature. He does what GSP does, but not quite as good as GSP does it.
His opponents do not seem to fear him, and he does not have any remarkable qualities that are impossible to overcome.
When I look at guys like Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo, Jon Jones, Junior dos Santos and even Renan Barao, I see guys who instill fear in their opponents. They can end fights in an instant, and they can make their opponents look downright silly while doing so.
Benson Henderson, to this point, has not shown me he can do this at the highest level. He has zero finishes in his six UFC contests, and he is never doing something that truly amazes and makes you spill your beer.
He is a monster, and he is an absolute tactician inside the Octagon, but he does not strike me as an indestructible force like other champions.
Maybe I'm ordering a dish of crow's feet for dessert, but I think Benson Henderson still has plenty of work to do to achieve the status of his champion counterparts.
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