UFC 173

Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson: Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2014

Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson: Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    USA TODAY Sports

    UFC 173 takes place this weekend, and the co-main event is a title eliminator in the UFC's light heavyweight division.

    Former PRIDE welterweight and middleweight champion Dan Henderson will take on rising star Daniel Cormier. They are currently ranked as the No. 6 and No. 4 light heavyweights, respectively.

    The co-main event should draw significant interest. Both men have storylines against current champion Jon Jones, but Alexander Gustafsson could throw a wrench into those plans should he defeat the champion in their rematch later this year.

    Two high-level wrestlers with big power enter the Octagon Saturday with a lot on the line. It is an intriguing stylistic matchup, but Cormier is the heavy favorite coming in. How will the fight play out, and who will earn the next title shot?

    This is your head-to-toe breakdown of the co-main event heading into UFC 173 this weekend.

Striking

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Henderson has many more TKOs and KOs to his credit, but Cormier is the more skilled striker.

    Henderson's biggest fault as a striker is his predictability. He loads up on his right hand and telegraphs his punches. It works often due to his power, but it is unlikely to give him much of a chance against someone like Cormier.

    Cormier has developed a solid striking game at AKA. He, too, has power but uses more technique in his striking.

    Cormier's head movement, footwork and angles give him much more variety than Henderson. That's the difference.

    Edge: Cormier

Grappling

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Cormier and Henderson are both high-level wrestlers. Few in the game today have their credentials.

    Simply put, Cormier is better. Much better.

    Despie his credentials, Henderson has not transitioned his high-level wrestling all that well into MMA. He has been taken down by lesser grapplers often, and he often fails to complete his own takedown attempts.

    Henderson's FightMetric stats show him having only 55 percent takedown accuracy and 60 percent takedown defense. Cormier's accuracy is lower at 44 percent, but do not let that fool you as to who is the better wrestler entering this bout.

    If this becomes a wrestling match, there is a high probability that Cormier dominates the action.

    Edge: Cormier

Submissions

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    USA TODAY Sports

    This area could have been a push, but I do not like handing those out. I try to give one fighter or the other the advantage.

    Do not expect a submission. Neither Cormier nor Henderson likes going for submissions, and both are quite good at defending attempts. Henderson has only been submitted three times, and all three were by black belts from Team Nogueira.

    Why do I give Cormier the edge here? Positioning.

    As I mentioned in the previous slide, he is the better grappler, and he will have the better positioning in this fight. Position before submission, and Cormier will have the better position. That gives him the slight edge in a category we will likely not be concerned with Saturday.

    Edge: Cormier

X-Factors

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Cormier's X-Factor: His Chin

    A question that we may be answered Saturday is how good Cormier's chin is.

    Henderson is a power puncher, and he often finds his target despite his telegraphed ways. If Cormier can eat a shot from Henderson, we will know how well his chin holds up.

    He has been dominant in his career to date, but we are still waiting to find out how good his chin is and how he handles adversity. Henderson could be the man to give us those answers.

     

    Henderson's X-Factor: Experience

    Henderson has been in this game a long time, and he has been at the very top of the sport. He is a two-division champion and has held titles in multiple organizations. He knows how to handle all the pressure that comes along with this spot.

    Cormier has been in high-level fights and has competed in big spots in the past, but this is a bit different.

    We know how Henderson handles these moments, but we are not as sure about Cormier. Also, we don't know how he handles adversity. Cormier may have been dominant so far, but we know how Henderson handles adversity.

    Henderson's big-fight experience could play a factor this weekend.

Prediction

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    USA TODAY Sports

    I simply fail to see how Cormier loses this fight.

    Henderson is well past his prime, and he only has his big right hand. Cormier is too intelligent and technically skilled to be caught. I fully expect Cormier to dominate this fight across all three rounds.

    Cormier will win the position and striking battles. He will take Henderson's power away and do whatever he pleases inside the eight-sided cage. His domination will get him the title shot.

    Henderson is tough enough to avoid being finished, but the outcome will show he is not an elite light heavyweight anymore. Expect Cormier to roll.

    Prediction: Cormier defeats Henderson by unanimous decision.

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