Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Benson Henderson: A Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Henderson is 2-0 since losing the title to Anthony Pettis in 2013 and is 9-1 overall in the UFC. He is ranked as the No. 1 contender in the division, and a win over Dos Anjos could earn him another shot at the title.
Dos Anjos is 6-1 since 2011 with a win over Donald Cerrone and the lone loss coming to Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is ranked No. 5, but many aren't talking about him as a real title contender.
A win for Dos Anjos would truly cement him as an elite lightweight and get him some serious consideration for a title shot.
Let's check out a head-to-toe breakdown for this lightweight matchup.
Neither fighter is particularly known for scoring finishes with strikes. Henderson's last win with strikes came in 2009 in the WEC. Overall, he has only four striking-based finishes.
Dos Anjos has scored a win by (T)KO more recently but still doesn't have that many. He won his last fight over Jason High with a second-round TKO, but his only other win with strikes came in 2011 over George Sotiropoulos.
While neither is much of a finisher on the feet, Henderson is likely the better overall striker, having taken on and beaten the likes of Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson.
Benson Henderson is one of the top grapplers in the lightweight division. He has been able to outwrestle most of the top fighters in the division, and he has some of the best takedown defense, although not so much as of late.
Henderson has been taken down 10 times in his last two fights, and he needs to be sure to avoid that against Dos Anjos.
Dos Anjos is a solid grappler with a good ground game. He definitely has the ability to take down Henderson. Whether he can do anything with it remains to be seen.
Henderson's higher overall level of competition should be a huge factor for him here.
Henderson is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has won with submissions in nine of his 21 victories—seven by submission holds. He has submitted Donald Cerrone—The Cowboy's only submission loss—Jamie Varner, Rustam Khabilov and more.
In addition, Henderson has some of the best submission defense in the UFC. He is able to stay calm and work his way out of submission attempts.
Dos Anjos is also a black belt in BJJ and has scored eight of his 21 wins by submission. He has lost once by submission, but it was due to a jaw injury.
Dos Anjos' last submission was back in 2012 when he submitted Kamal Shalorus in less than two minutes.
This is another situation where Dos Anjos is good, but Henderson is probably better.
Henderson finds himself in another fight he's expected to win. His last fight came against Rustam Khabilov, who is currently ranked No. 12 in the division, while this fight comes against the No. 5 lightweight. Dos Anjos has only one Top 15 win, and many don't consider him to be deserving of his current ranking.
Henderson has to make sure to stay fully focused and put on a great performance. If he scores another finish, he'd have to be next in line for a title shot.
Rafael dos Anjos
Dos Anjos doesn't look to have an edge anywhere on paper. He is good at everything, but Henderson would appear to be better. If Dos Anjos shows he has an edge anywhere, he has to make sure to take full advantage of it.
If he finds he is striking better than Henderson come fight night, then he'll have to be sure to avoid Henderson's takedowns. If he has an edge on the ground, then he has to make sure the fight stays there. He needs to adapt to the situation and take advantage of openings wherever he can.
This is the biggest fight of Dos Anjos' career. Taking on the former lightweight champ and No. 1-ranked lightweight is huge. A win would prove to the division he is a legitimate threat.
Dos Anjos has a real shot to win, but don't expect it. Benson Henderson has only lost twice since 2007, and both losses came against Anthony Pettis.
Henderson has beaten Nos. 2, 4, 6 and 8 in the lightweight division as well as Nos. 3 and 12 in the featherweight division. He is ranked No. 13 pound-for-pound in the UFC and fully deserves that ranking.
Henderson is one of the top fighters on the planet and looks to be better than Dos Anjos anywhere the fight may go.
Prediction: Benson Henderson def. Rafael dos Anjos by unanimous decision (49-46 x3)