One swift, flying kick off the cage from Anthony Pettis took down Benson Henderson in their last meeting three years ago for World Extreme Cagefighting, but the current UFC lightweight champion has run off seven straight victories since moving up, including three title defenses.
The technical mixed martial artist now has a shot at redemption as Henderson rematches No. 2 ranked Pettis for the title at UFC 164 on Sunday night at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Pettis, a 26-year-old Milwaukee native, will have the crowd on his side and is coming off three straight wins via split decision, knockout, and technical knockout. Injuries sidelined Pettis, but he roared back in January and earned the Knockout of the Night by dropping Donald Cerrone in the first round, setting up another showdown with Henderson for his first title shot in UFC.
Henderson will have to slow the fight down and take Pettis to the mat, where he’s collected all but one of his professional victories. This will be the second fight of the year for Henderson, who earned a split decision against Gilbert Melendez in April. Henderson, a Phoenix native, still sees plenty of potential in his career.
“I know how good I can be and I’m not there yet,” Henderson said to the L.A Times. “I haven’t hit my ceiling or my peak yet. I know I can be a lot better. Take a look at when GSP [Georges St-Pierre], Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz started fighting professionally ... it’s when I was still in college.
“I had no dreams or aspirations of even being a fighter. These guys have a lot more experience, a lot more time in the sport than I do. I’ve been doing the sport for four years. Some guys have been in it four or five years longer, with 30,000 hours of practice compared to my 15,000 hours. I have that time to make up, in my boxing, muay thai, kickboxing, taekwondo, jiujitsu, wrestling.
“Wait until I have my 30,000 hours of boxing. I’m not bad now. Give me another two years, and I’ll blow your guys’ minds.”
Those are strong words from Henderson, who clearly feels confident with a better UFC record that Pettis. However, Pettis has honed his wrestling skills since their last meeting, which have made him a more balanced fighter capable of thwarting most of Henderson’s attack.
The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT, and you can order the pay-per-view event on UFC’s official site here. Their feed can be watched online or on television.
Tale Of the Tape
Weight: 155 lbs
Reach: 70 in
Weight: 154.5 lbs
Reach: 72 in
Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett
Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida
Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera
Erick Koch vs. Dustin Poirier
Prediction: Henderson squeezes out a victory, while dodging lots of powerful hits from Pettis. Henderson in a split decision.