It was not an easy path to the UFC Lightweight title for Benson Henderson (17-2), who first rose to fame in the Zuffa owned World Extreme Cagefighting. At the time considered something of a minor league, the WEC boasted some of the best lightweight prospects in the sport and in 2010 Henderson became the champion of that promotion. Then he lost that title to Anthony Pettis at the last WEC event before it was merged with the UFC, due in large part to the famous showtime kick. Since then Henderson is 5-0 in the UFC with two hotly contested wins over Frankie Edgar to become the Lightweight champion.
Nate Diaz (16-7) is also a product of a UFC farm system, the Ultimate Fighter. While the show has fallen on hard times recently, at one point it was a premier destination for rising young talent in the sport. The younger brother of MMA star Nick Diaz, Nate actually fought for a WEC Lightweight title before winning the fifth season of the Ultimate Fighter. Since then Nate has a successful UFC career, but has struggled against stronger, more physical wrestlers.
The match is an intriguing one, as both fighters have excellent and well rounded skills. Henderson, the champion, started his martial arts career in the striking art of Teakwondo, giving him strong kicks, but he is also an experienced wrestler. Training with B.J. Penn, Henderson has also added Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to his arsenal. Henderson is extremely difficult to submit and is an excellent positional grappler.
Diaz also has an excellent mix of skills, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Cesar Gracie Diaz is a threat to submit anyone on the ground. On the feet Diaz has excellent boxing, using his reach extremely well with hard, straight punches. This promises to be a close fight, on the feet Diaz will likely have an edge, but his confidence his ability to submit may allow Henderson to get easy take downs and them win this fight with strong top position and ground-and-pound, and win by decision.
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