Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis head-to-toe breakdown

Aug 31, 2013, 9:46 PM | Updated: 9:46 pm

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the UFC 164 main card preview here.

Note: Don’t miss Jim Grieshaber’s one-on-one exclusive interview with Arizona’s own UFC champ, Benson Henderson, Saturday on The Power MMA Show from 11 am – 1 pm on Arizona Sports 620 and ArizonaSports.com.

It’s one of the biggest rematches in not only the UFC’s lightweight division history but the entire sport of mixed martial arts in general. Meeting at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in a rematch of the 2010 Fight of the Year are two former WEC lightweight champions Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and Benson “Smooth” Henderson. In what turned out to be the last loss in his professional career, Henderson enters the bout as the UFC champion looking to avenge his loss at the hands of Pettis in WEC’s final event, which just so happened to be in “Smooth’s” hometown of Glendale. This time, however, the two will meet in Pettis’ backyard as the UFC celebrates Harley Davidson’s 110th anniversary.

But there can only be one winner, so without further ado here’s the complete breakdown of this fight between these two 155-pound rivals:

Striking

There are few fighters on the UFC roster who possess the skill set that Pettis does when it comes to striking inside the octagon. With a near endless bag of tricks in his arsenal, “Showtime” has proven it doesn’t matter what angle he takes because he can strike from anywhere. Utilizing everything from spinning back kicks, to cart wheel kicks to the most famous highlight in the history of MMA in the “Showtime Kick,” which just so happened to be in his first meeting with Henderson, Pettis has emerged as the most exciting striker in the entire organization.

But while his kicks and punches may look flashy, he more than backs it with tremendous knockout power. Just ask Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone how it feels to be on the receiving end of Pettis’ shin. But Henderson is no slouch as he’s already come out on top against formidable boxers in Frankie Edgar and Nate Diaz. While not as creative as Pettis, Henderson utilizes powerful kicks to set up fast combinations. Both men are incredibly well rounded on the feet but Pettis’ background and recent string of knockouts gives him the edge in this category.

Edge: Pettis

Grappling

This is only aspect of the fight game where one of these two octagon warriors has a distinct advantage over the other, as Henderson clearly has a stronger wrestling and grappling skill set than Pettis. Since debuting in the UFC, Henderson has secured victories over Clay Guida and Jim Miller, two fighters known for their smothering grappling attack. While a wrestler like Frankie Edgar did pose some problems to Henderson, he more than made up for it with strong takedown defense and the ability to scramble to his feet. Pettis has improved his wrestling over the past few years after training with arguably the best wrestler in MMA, Ben Askren, but his takedown defense is still a little suspect. Combine this with Henderson’s 58.3 percent takedown accuracy and fight fans should agree that Henderson has the advantage in this category.

Edge: Henderson

Submission

Another closely contested matchup has to be the jiu-jitsu of these men inside the octagon. Benson is of course a black belt in BJJ and regularly competes in jiu-jitsu competitions during his off days but Pettis is no slouch off his back either. Henderson’s eight career wins by submission may trump Pettis’ six but the real deciding factor in this one has to be the champ’s ability to defend almost every submission attempt thrown at him. It seems like in almost every single bout, Henderson ends up in what looks like a fight-ending guillotine only to find some way to squirm out of harm’s way and make his way on top of his opponent. In fact, Henderson has successfully defended a record 32 submission attempts in his time as a WEC/UFC fighter.

It’s a tough one to call, but Henderson’s experience as black belt and Pettis’ desire to keep the fight standing gives the champ the edge in this one.

Edge: Henderson

Prediction

Come fight night, I expect another fast paced, back and forth war from these two men. Henderson hasn’t finished an opponent inside a UFC octagon, and his 145 minutes of fighting without a finish is second to welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Combine this with an average fight time of 20:43 and Pettis never being finished in his career, Henderson will most likely pull off the decision victory if he hopes to have his hand raised in the end. Both men have improved leaps and bounds from their last meeting so this bout should more than live up the hype surrounding it. But in the end, I see the outcome remaining the same as Pettis ends Henderson’s title reign in an incredibly close decision.

> Pettis via Split Decision

Penguin Air

MMA

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Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis head-to-toe breakdown