August 31st at UFC 164 brings the fight fans one of the most anticipated rematches in all mma. Benson Henderson defends his UFC lightweight championship against top contender, and the man to beat him last, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis.
The last time these two met it was under the banner of the WEC. At the companies last event WEC 53, Pettis defeated Henderson via unanimous decision, ending the fight with the well-known “Showtime” kick off the cage.
With Pettis winning the WEC lightweight title, he instantly became next in line for the UFC lightweight title. Both men took different paths once joining the UFC, but neither expected it to end up the way it did. Pettis was supposed to get the next UFC lightweight title shot, and instead was stuck in limbo due to the Edgar/Maynard draw, which resulted in an immediate rematch for Maynard.
The UFC wanted to see what Pettis was made of and fitted him against top wrestler Clay Guida. Guida derailed the former WEC lightweight champion and defeated him via unanimous. Pettis’ wrestling at the time was lacking, and it showed. Since then, Pettis has regrouped and is on a 3 fight winning streak, including two straight ‘KO of the night’ awards. Pettis has done everything he has wanted to, granted it was the hard way, but if you ask “Showtime,” he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Benson Henderson was undefeated and was 5-0 in the WEC before losing his title, not too mention it was in his hometown. A lot of spectators thought Benson showed true weakness and wouldn’t be able to hang among the all-stars inside the UFC. They were wrong. Benson debuted against Mark Bocek where he was successful via unanimous decision.
From there, Henderson would go on 7 fight winning streak with wins over Jim Miller, Clay Guida (after he beat Pettis), Frankie Edgar (twice), Nate Diaz and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. Both Henderson and Pettis’ skills have changed for the good since their last meeting.
The hometown effect in MMA
Henderson knows what it’s like to lose in his hometown and would love to repay the favor to Pettis. Pettis knows that his fan base will be in full effect on Saturday. Could this be a downfall for Pettis? He is a flashy fighter. Will he try too hard to impress his fans than actually sticking to his game-plan? I believe that the hometown effect goes to Pettis. Pettis will come to fight and deliver flash, but his mental edge will be what gives him the win.
The wrestling effect in MMA
Benson Henderson has dominate wrestling, but actually has been mixing up his attacks as of late. He has not finished one fight in the UFC, and if Benson wins I see it being by another lack luster decision. Pettis has already said he isn’t scared of a finish by Henderson. One of Pettis’ biggest weapons in his training with Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren.
Askren is one of the most dominate wrestlers in mma, and if anyone can help you get ready for a wrestler, it’s Askren. The wrestling edge again goes to Pettis. Pettis is so good at suckering fighters into striking with him, and Benson’s wrestling with more than likely be negated.
The overall effect in MMA
This is Pettis’ fight to lose. Benson has everything to prove. Pettis is the big question mark in Henderson’s career, and if Pettis beats him again, his whole career and legacy will be questioned. If Pettis loses, he will still probably get an immediate shot at UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
Pettis is fighting in his hometown in a rematch he has been salivating over. He will bring in his flash, speed, takedown defense, accuracy and his overall polished game. Bendo is no one to overlook, but I don’t really see anyway he can manage to beat Showtime.
Instead, I see Pettis winning via third round TKO or another decision. From there, I see the UFC making the Pettis/Aldo fight in “superfight” format. Either way, the Pettis/Aldo fight will happen regardless what happens at UFC 164.