Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis II is a fight that has been waiting to happen since the days of WEC. Anthony Pettis was the final Lightweight champion of the now dissolved organization, at the expense of Benson Henderson.
The loss marked the second time that Henderson had been beaten in Pro MMA, and the first at high level. His only loss before Pettis was a submission against Rocky Johnson at a regional show in Colorado. Henderson has remained indifferent in opinions about a rematch with Pettis, saying that he will fight whoever the UFC puts in front of him, although I’m sure he wants to avenge the loss.
In a reversal of fortunes, Pettis has had it pretty rough since joining the UFC, until today that is. After a rocky debut loss against Clay Guida, Pettis has seen numerous title shots slip between his fingers. Kind of ironic that injury sees him replace TJ Grant against Bendo, when it saw him pulled from his own FW shot against Aldo.
So it seems that the tables have turned for Showtime, and fortune is now on his side. He will get another crack at a title, against a fighter that he already holds a win over. But does that win really make a difference? The answer is realistically, no.
Styles make fights, and both guy’s have improved leaps and bounds since the good ol’ WEC days. Disregarding the Guida loss, for the moment, Pettis has been on fire since joining the UFC. Scoring a split decision win over Jeremy Stephens in his rebound match, then absolutely decamating Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone back to back.
Bendo, on the other hand, is undefeated since the Pettis loss. Beating Frankie Edgar (twice-ish), Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Mark Bocek, Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. The only criticism that Henderson receives is his lack of finishing. He makes up for that with his gameplans, and outworking opponents. Something he may find hard to do against the very game Pettis.
My early breakdown of this fight goes as follows: Bendo is going to want this fight on the mat, he doesn’t want a repeat of the last fight. He is a TKD black belt and has very crisp boxing, but he knows that Pettis’ striking game is on another level. Bendo is a smart guy, and he wants to keep his belt.
If Pettis has ever shown a weakness, it’s his wrestling. He was manhandled by Clay Guida in his UFC debut, and Henderson will have been paying attention. An all-American wrestler and Jiu-Jitsu whizz vs. a striker who outstruck him three years ago-it doesn’t take a genius to imagine wghere this scrap will end up.
It will only end up like that if Henderson can take it there, I’m not going to say at such an early stage that it’s going to be a grind out by Bendo. It could well be that Pettis obliterates Smooth early on, or has worked on his TDD. I’ll save that predicition for a later date.
What I will say though is that, if Henderson beats Pettiis, he will truly be one of the best Lightweights in the sports history.