Despite being given the seemingly less auspicious standing of a UFC on Fox event rather than being one of the UFC’s numerically sequenced big shows, this is one of the most stacked cards of the year. If not the most stacked.
The lightweight title fight between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz tops the bill but all four match-ups on the main card have the potential to be Fight of the Night. In fact the honours could well be won by a preliminary bout.
There’s only one belt on the line though so let’s take a look at Henderson v Diaz.
Benson Henderson (c) v Nate Diaz
After taking the lightweight belt from Frankie Edgar with a points win, Henderson retained the belt with an even narrower split decision in a rematch against the former champion. Undersized at lightweight Edgar is now moving down to featherweight where he belongs and Henderson takes on a fighter who has looked impressive since moving down from welterweight.
Nate, the younger and marginally more sane of the Diaz brothers, decided to move down to lightweight after being physically dominated by Kim Dong-Hyun and Rory McDonald in consecutive losses. The move has worked out well with Diaz scoring three straight wins picking up one Fight of the Night and two Submission of the Night bonuses in the process.
There’s sure to be a clash of styles in this fight with Henderson preferring a more controlled and methodical style of fighting, illustrated by all six of his UFC fights being decided on points.
Diaz only has two points wins in his entire career. Although six of his seven career losses have come by way of a judges’ decision. If you fancy Henderson to win then back him to win on points at 4/5. Diaz is a very tough fighter who has never been knocked out and the champion doesn’t possess the one punch power necessary to alter that.
I’m trying to get my hand raised however I can get it. If it’s a decisive victory, I’ll take it. If it’s a closer razor thin decision, I’ll take that too. I’ll take it any way I can get it. – Benson Henderson
You can be certain that Diaz will look to engage from the very start. He has an excellent striking style, is a tall lightweight and he’ll enjoy a six-inch reach advantage in this fight. Henderson may look to take this fight to the ground if Diaz finds his range early on.
However, Diaz, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, has 11 submissions from his 16 MMA wins and five Submission of the Night honours in the UFC. In fact if Diaz is to win this fight he’s most likely going to soften up Henderson with his striking, using his superior height and range, before getting him to the ground to submit him. Diaz is well priced at 7/2 to win via submission.
I have a lot of respect for Benson Henderson and what he has done in his career. But he’s what I call a round-winner. That’s not me. I am a fighter. – Nate Diaz
As the match prices suggest, Henderson at 8/11 and Diaz at 11/10, this is expected to be a tight contest. There are solid arguments for both fighters but purely for the excitement of future title fights I’m going with Diaz to submit Henderson at 7/2 in a contender for fight of the year. I’ll even go one step further and predict he’ll do it in the fourth round at 18/1.