Prediction, Benson Henderson will find a way to defeat Josh Thomson on Saturday. It may be by decision, submission or (T)KO. The fashion in which he wins is just icing on the cake. The bigger question is what happens after he defeats Thomson? He is in the proverbial no man’s land in the lightweight division.
Henderson has already shot down any conversion of him moving up in weight to welterweight. Personally, that was probably a great decision for him to make. There is no need to move up in weight to a class that is stacked with potential contenders. No matter how long Henderson held the lightweight belt, he would not have been fast-tracked to a title shot in the welterweight division.
The lightweight division is the best division for Henderson. He has the abilities to defeat anyone apparently not named Anthony Pettis. Unfortunately, there are just some fighters tailor made for other fighters. Pettis’ skill set is perfect to defeat a fighter like Henderson.
With that said, Pettis is the champion and Henderson has already lost to him twice (one time in WEC and the other in the UFC). Pettis won the UFC bout easily, meaning Henderson won’t be getting a rematch anytime soon. Plus, there are other fighters who could potentially earn a title shot in the near future who hasn’t lost to Pettis (Khabib Nurmagomedov for starters).
Still ranked No. 1 in the UFC rankings behind the champ, Henderson could serve as a gatekeeper for the foreseeable future, a role sure to continue offering great match ups. The only problem with that is the possibility of him fending off every potential challenger to Pettis’ belt (with the only exception being Gilbert Melendez who will most certainly bypass any confrontation with Henderson to get a title shot).
It’s easy to say that Henderson will be stuck on the outside looking in as long as Pettis remains champion.