Previewing Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis II


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.

  • Well, if Pettis wins by a small margin or decision, then here we go again 2 more fights tying up the division. I hope one or the other wins decisively and TJ is next.

    • Of course decisive isnt a guarantee either……Weidman? jab jab, poke poke

  • I feel like benson is now on a whole other level . He's not the same benson since the first fight …. hopefully pettis throws a few showtime kicks though

  • Pettis has been working hard on his wrestling with Ben Askren since the loss to Guida (which was 2 years ago). So i'm expecting a VERY much improved wrestling game and ever improving his already elite striking. He's not a Jitz blackbelt like Bendo but his groundgame is VERY active and legit. IF Bendo can take this down before getting smashed on the feet, i'm not sure that he can control or finish Pettis on the ground. I'm actually pretty sure he can't and won't. Bendo's only way to win (IN MY HUMBLE OPINION) is to outgrind Pettis… and i just don't see that happening.

    • Thats a fair assessment. I think Bendo will get his back against the cage and control from that position for a while and win by grind or if he's really sneaky a RNC if in the earlier rounds while he has lots of strength left. I could easily see this go to Pettis if he keeps it standing and away from the cage though. I think Pettis is the style to beat Bendo but I am slightly leaning in the champs direction because of his loss to Pettis and also his recent criticisms from the public lighting a fire under him. Very good fight either way.

  • I have Pettis big time in this. Bendo has definitely improved all around but he allows his opponent to tee off on him and this is the most dangerous striker he has fought since he fought him the last time.

    Unless Bendo goes full out for the takedown and gameplans around taking Pettis down and beating him up (same gameplan for first Cerrone fight), which I doubt will work anyway, he will get finished in the stand up.

  • this is really the only champion fight at 155 that anyone wants to see. Bendo has come along way from the 1st time they fought but Pettis is a hammer. Should be exciting whoever wins and the division needs a fight like this.