Benson “Smooth” Henderson. He’s unknown to much of the casual and new fans of MMA. Now he has a chance to show that he really belongs in the major leagues with the WEC-UFC merger. The winner of Henderson-Anthony Pettis will face the winner of Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard to unify the 155 pound titles of both leagues. Both Henderson and Pettis are known for putting on exciting matches, and their stock should increase with the merger. With Maynard being the oldest of this group of 4 (he’s 31), the future of the division is bright.
Let’s have a closer look at Henderson’s chances against these opponents:
Pettis- Being able to unify the titles hinges on the outcome at the final WEC event, WEC 53 in December. Pettis brings a very high energy style to the cage. He is primarily a striker, but his grappling ability is often overlooked- see his recent performances for example. Henderson will be the favourite in this fight, but he cannot afford to look past Pettis. Pettis is a serious threat from all angles on the feet and Henderson is going to need his wrestling and slick submissions to win this battle. Henderson wins 65% of the time.
Edgar- Edgar is a stick and move artist while also being a great wrestler. Does Henderson have the ability to nullify Edgar’s point scoring game? This is an intriguing fight whether it’s standing or on the ground. Edgar might be quicker and good at sticking and moving, but Henderson’s speed is very underrated and he also has great strength and flexibility. Edgar has some very sneaky takedowns, Henderson has the ridiculous guillotine and a generally slick ground game. Edgar wins 55% of the time.
Maynard- Maynard’s bread and butter is wrestling. Can Henderson lock a guillotine on Maynard when Gray shoots in? This might end up being the key question in this fight. If Maynard takes Henderson down cleanly, will Maynard be able to control for a decision, or will Henderson’s ‘smooth’ BJJ be able to pull off a submission? Can Bendo get back to his feet off a Maynard takedown? Will Maynard be able to repeat his famous double knockout from TUF? Maynard wins 65% of the time.
Henderson won’t be the favourite against either Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard, but he’s not a Matt Serra-type underdog either. He could easily be a contender in the new 155 pound division with his skills, and his penchant for putting on exciting fights should ensure he has a roster spot for awhile.