Benson Henderson’s reign atop the UFC Lightweight division was cut short in dramatic fashion by archrival Anthony Pettis at UFC 164. ‘Showtime’ left no doubt when he took out ‘Smooth’, locking in a tight armbar on the BJJ specialist and winning the title in the first round.
After another knee injury sidelined Pettis for 6-8 months, Henderson stepped up to face Thomson at UFC on Fox 10 in a title eliminator bout. So what if Henderson beats ‘Punk’ in Chicago? Is it too soon for an immediate rematch?
Pettis has long been talked about as a legitimate force in any weight class he chooses to fight in. Although he never made it to Featherweight, a lot of fans predicted him to beat Jose Aldo in their scheduled bout. Perhaps he would have.
Pettis receiving an instant title shot at 145 pounds was not luck; it’s clear that ‘Showtime’ is a phenomenal raw talent and has put in a lot of work to refine his natrual ability. This and a host of other reasons are why I think Bendo should not be fighting for Pettis’ title so soon after he lost it in Milwaukee.
First, I think it is too soon because of the impact the loss had on ‘Smooth.’ No matter how much he denies it and says it doesn’t hurt; it does. The mental effects of being beaten for the first time in three years by the same opponent that handed you your last defeat and being finished for only the second time in your career will be a factor.
Sometimes losses bring fighters back in better form, but is that enough to take out Pettis? When ‘Showtime’ is healthy, I don’t know if any Lightweight has what it takes right now.
To answer the original question, yes, I think it would be too early for Henderson to get a title rematch. As much as I like him, I just don’t know if he can evolve enough to offer anything more effective than last time,; especially not with only one bout in between title fights.
My personal opinion on the matter is let Henderson get two fights under his belt. I also think he really needs to work on his finishing abilities. Trying to eek out a decision over Pettis is always going to be tough, especially considering the history between these two. What do you think?