Looking Ahead to Benson Henderson’s Dance with Nate Diaz

With UFC lightweight king Benson Henderson retaining his belt this past Saturday night with a hard-fought outpointing Frankie Edgar, the path has been cleared for a clash between the 28-year old champion and top contender Nate Diaz. The fight will mark the first UFC title-shot of Diaz’s career, yet also sees him entering the affair with a good deal of momentum resulting from a trio of consecutive wins in which he dominated his game opponents. Likewise, Henderson is also on a hot streak and appears to be improving with each of his outings.

Though no date has been set for their scrap, it’s certainly not too early to begin breaking down how the talented twosome stacks up against each other.

Striking

Outside of his brother, Nick Diaz, the TUF-winning challenger has stand-up unlike any other individual in MMA. His boxing is crisp, yet he employs a style involving a number of pawing jabs rather than power punches. While his precision is undoubtedly superior to Henderson’s, he lacks the arsenal of kicks “Bendo” throws and struggles to find success on his feet against opponents who aren’t baited by his trash-talking.

Advantage – Neither

Wrestling

Diaz isn’t much of a wrestler, preferring to strike or submit opponents from his back, and he has struggled against opponents who enjoy looking for takedowns. Unfortunately for him, Henderson has a top-notch double-leg at his disposal and won’t shy away from using it (or any other number of techniques to bring action down to the ground).

Advantage – Henderson

Submissions

Eleven of Diaz’s sixteen instances of success have involved a submission, while Henderson has won eight of seventeen in such a manner. Their BJJ games are definitely different with Diaz’s being a bit more polished. Henderson is always a threat to latch onto a Guillotine Choke but that’s about it.

Advantage – Diaz

Conditioning/Fitness

Though Diaz is a fit individual who spends time doing triathlons and cross-training with his brother, he has yet to go 25 full minutes inside the Octagon. Meanwhile, Henderson has done it twice this year against a former champion. He’s faster than Diaz and stronger too. While Diaz would probably win a distance race against Henderson it’s a different story inside the ring.

Advantage – Henderson

Result

Unless Henderson makes the mistake of trying to box Diaz he should end up with a decision win. His wrestling and top control are good enough to keep action grounded for the most part and he’s not likely to get caught in a submission. Diaz is also unlikely to be finished, hence things going the distance. However, if Henderson gets cute and tries to strike from outside he’s going to get picked apart.

Winner – Benson Henderson (Decision)

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC

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