Anthony "Showtime" Pettis and Benson Henderson could fight five times, and though the specifics would differ, the bottom line result would probably still be the same. Pettis is officially Henderson's kryptonite.
After defeating Henderson in 2010 primarily on the strength of the Showtime kick, Pettis proved his dominance over his rival with an expertly-executed armbar to capture the UFC lightweight title on Saturday night.
Pettis gets so much love for his dynamic striking ability.
His kick of Henderson in 2010 and back-to-back KO of the night performances against Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone may have caused some to forget how good of a grappler Showtime is.
On Saturday night, he reminded us.
Henderson usually has an edge in athleticism over his opponents. Pettis is one of the few—if not only—fighters in his weight range that is superior to Henderson in this category. Almost no fighter will enjoy an advantage over their opponent on every level. When it isn't beneficial to engage an opponent in one area, a fighter must take a different approach.
But what happens when Plan B doesn't increase your chances of winning?
What should Henderson do next?
Bendo's tree-trunk legs would normally lead to dominance in the grappling/ground game, but Pettis' dexterity, technique and instincts eliminated this benefit as well.
Of all the ways to lose to Pettis, losing by submission was the most demoralizing for Henderson. It only served to show Pettis as the superior fighter in yet another aspect of the sport.
Who could blame Hendo if he's somewhere thinking "what now" to any attempts to challenge Pettis again. Styles make fights in every combat sport and it is clear Henderson simply doesn't match up well with Pettis.
At this point in both men's careers, it is difficult to see a scenario that would change this. Neither man is still considered an up-and-coming talent and neither is near the end of their career.
At their best, Pettis is simply better. For a respected, proud and gifted fighter like Henderson, that is a tough pill to swallow.
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