There are realistically a good 20 ways to analyze this fight. Firstly, they fought before in 2010 at WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis, where Pettis won a close unanimous decision in the last fight of the organization’s history, taking the belt from Henderson, arguably stealing the show with his highlight reel, ‘Showtime’ kick.
Secondly, their records are equally impressive. Henderson hasn’t lost since the Pettis fight, and only has one other loss which he accrued early on in his career. Pettis’s harbors the only career loss between the two since they moved to the UFC, yet he only has one other loss on his record, just like the champ.
Henderson boasts the strongest hit-list of the two, primarily because that’s what happens when you’re forced to defend the UFC lightweight title 3 times in a row since he took it from Frankie Edgar in their first fight, back in February 2012.
The general consensus is painfully obvious though. Among the lightweights, no one comes close to these two. Unless someone like Jose Aldo decides to move up a weight class, good luck finding anyone worth putting money on against Pettis or Henderson, in the near future.
Leading in to the heart of what I’m trying to say is this, the only way to look at this one, is clearly defined by the numbers, of which are listed in the charts below (fightmetric.com). Follow each category as I pair up the fighter’s numbers related to their physical attributes, fight records, striking, and grappling skills.
Benson Henderson ~Anthony Pettis
TALE OF THE TAPE (Physical Attributes)
Wins/Losses/Draws 19-2-0 ~ 16-2-0
Average Fight Time 16:42 ~ 09:57
Height 5′ 9″ (175 cm)~ 5′ 10″ (178 cm)
Weight 155 lb. (70 kg)~ 155 lb. (70 kg)
Reach 70.0″ (177.8 cm)~ 72.0″ (182.88 cm)
Stance Southpaw ~ Orthodox
Age 29 ~ 26
Of their physical characteristics, it looks like both fighters will have their own set of particular advantages. Being the southpaw, Bendo is going to have a slight advantage since he is used to fighting orthodox strikers, while Pettis will have to adjust for to ensure he doesn’t find himself thrown off his game when they meet in the cage.
Yet Pettis harbors the longer reach by two inches. In what is promising to be a fast paced technical matchup, two inches could make a significant difference. So in this category, the fighters tie.
Henderson ~ Pettis
STRIKING (Significant Strikes)
Strikes Landed per Min. (SLpM) 2.9 ~ 2.02
Striking Accuracy 44% ~ 43%
Strikes Absorbed per Min. (SApM) 1.56 ~ 1.41
Defense 66% ~ 65%
Pettis is the more unorthodox fighter of the two, and boasts a viscous highlight reel of knockouts in recent years to create indisputable evidence of the fact. Yet in the stats listed above, it looks like the king of closely contested unanimous decisions in Henderson, edges him out in a few places here.
Bendo is a tad more accurate and has slightly better striking defense. In both categories he holds a one percentage advantage. Pettis does land more punches and absorb less damage though, also by very slight margins.
Once again, by the numbers, it’s impossible to give either fighter the edge over the other.
Henderson ~ Pettis
GRAPPLING (Wrestling and such)
Takedowns Average/15 min. 2.83 ~ 1.51
Takedown Accuracy 48% ~ 77%
Takedown Defense 65% ~65%
Submission Average/15 min. 0.9 ~1.66
As far as wrestling is concerned, it’s a toss up once again. Where Bendo scores more take-downs throughout the fight, Pettis is more accurate and attempts more submissions. There takedown defense is identical.
Henderson ~ Pettis
Most recent fights (Newest First)
Win – Melendez ~ Win – Cerrone
Win – Diaz ~ Win – Lauzon
Win – Edgar ~ Win – Stephens
Win – Edgar ~ Loss – Guida
Win – Guida ~ Win – Henderson
Looking at their last five opponents, a few things can be said for both fighters. Pettis has finished two of his, while Bendo hasn’t finished anyone in his last five appearances. Yet Bendo beat all five opponents, plus four in five round battles, while Pettis has yet to fight a five round battle since beating Bendo, and he’s got a loss to Guida on his record.
Taking all this in to consideration, it’s impossible to give either fighter a decisive advantage in this one. What it may come down to on the day of their fated meeting is who manages to carry the most momentum in to the cage on fight night.
I guess if anything happens, it would be nice to see Bendo steal this one, if anything, to at least set up a rubber match between the two greatest lightweights on the planet, at the moment.