On April 20th Benson Henderson will put his lightweight strap on the line against former Strikeforce boss Gilbert Melendez. UFC on Fox 7 is a stacked card featuring Frank Mir, Daniel Cormier, Nate Diaz and Josh Thompson to name a few.
Today I'm going to look at the main event, Henderson Vs Melendez, and look at their styles head to head.
This is a tough one to call. On paper Melendez has more knockouts than Bendo, but Henderson is clearly the more technical striker. 'Smooth', who is a black belt in Taekwondo, is a superb athlete and is yet to be knocked out. Melendez won his first five bouts by TKO and is known for having some nasty elbows too. Henderson has improved his striking in MMA massively and I think his kicks will be the difference in the stand up. 60-40 Henderson.
Melendez has a solid wrestling base, I don't see wrestling as his weakness in this fight, but I don't think he can out-wrestle Henderson. Bendo is a two time NAIA All-American and has out-wrestled guys like Jim Miller and Clay Guida in recent times. I know statistics aren't everything and Melendez is a solid wrestler so I'm going to cal it 50-50.
This is another real tough one for me to call. Both these guys are brown belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Henderson has eight MMA wins due to submission and is well known for his guillotine chokes. Melendez oficially has one submisiion win but it was to punches. 'Smooth' has won multiple medals in the IBJJF and Arizona State Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, but Melendez trains daily with Nick Diaz and Jake Shields at Cesar Gracie's Jiu-Jitsu, so you know that both these guys are bringing top level ground skills to the fight. I just wonder whether Bendo's extensive extra curricular activities may give him the slightest edge here. 51-49 Henderson.
So taking all that in to consideration, what do I think about the fight itself?
My gut tells me that this fight is going to be a very closely contested war. Back-and-forth battles on the feet with some great scrambles on the ground. Ultimately I feel that Henderson's superior athleticism and striking will be the telling factor. Look for the reigning champ to chop away at Melendez with nasty kicks and crisp boxing. I'm calling this one Ben Henderson via decision.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned to Lowkick for more pre-fight coverage.