Experts are split on the result of the main event of UFC 164 featuring UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and his nemesis, Anthony Pettis. Henderson is looking for revenge after losing to Pettis while both were in World Extreme Cagefighting in 2010.
You know the bout. The one with the Showtime kick.
Henderson hasn't lost since, but a good number of MMA enthusiasts—including me—believe Pettis just has Henderson's number. Pettis' athleticism, grappling ability and skill set from his back still make him a better overall fighter.
That the fight takes place in Pettis' hometown of Milwaukee, Wis. only increases his chances to come away with the championship. Here are three MMA experts who agree.
Joseph Lisnow of FightLine.com says:
People are wondering if the “Showtime Kick” from WEC days will break him mentally. Anthony Pettis’ fighting is its own entity and difficult to figure out. His kicks look like breakdancing turned into vicious shots. If Pettis is fully healthy, he gets the win but Henderson will make him work for every second of it. This should easily be Fight of the Night. Anthony Pettis via third round TKO.
Henderson must be wary of Pettis' dynamic striking, especially considering he's already been victimized by one of Pettis' extraordinary strikes. This element will force Henderson to fight too passively.
Current UFC fighter Chael Sonnen and former fighter Kenny Florian also work as analysts for Fox Sports. They give their predictions on the main event as well as the Josh Barnett-Frank Mir heavyweight clash.
Sonnen was mixing DC Comics with biblical scripture, but he did settle on Pettis as his pick to win. Florian seemed a bit shocked that Sonnen went with Showtime as he favored the champion.
Here are two others who also see Henderson retaining his title and exacting his revenge.
Dana Becker of FightLine.com says:
Henderson’s matched up well with Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez, but “Showtime” offers a different animal. Not only does this have a chance to be “Fight of the Night,” it might just steal “Fight of the Year” honors at the same time. Benson Henderson via unanimous decision
I disagree with the notion that Henderson matched up well with Melendez. The champion fought too safe and it nearly cost him. He won a very close decision. Don't think for a minute Pettis didn't take note and incorporate something from that bout.
Bleacher Report's own Steven Rondina also sees Henderson winning a unanimous decision. He said:
Henderson grappled with Guida, while he chose to brawl with Pettis. Obviously, working in terms of “MMA math," the champ should be able to take a decision by bullying Pettis around the cage. It will come down to whether or not the champ can be baited into a stand-up brawl again.
I, personally, don't think that's the case.
Rondina may be underestimating Pettis' ability to hold his own if this fight goes to the mat. Pettis is wiry, slippery and skilled. While Henderson is physically stronger, Pettis can handle himself on the ground.
Soon, these two great fighters will take the guess work away from all of us. We may have another classic on our hands.
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