Let’s see what the UFC odds makers are offering and cash a ticket as former UFC lightweight champ Ben Henderson faces Jorge Masvidal, who is returning to the division after several years.
Ben Henderson (22-5, 2 KO’s, 10 Subs)
Ben Henderson’s reign over the UFC lightweight division began with a stunning unanimous decision over then champ Frankie Edgar that was ulltimately declared the 2012 Fight of the Year. Henderson would successfully defend his title three times earning a split decision over Edgar in a rematch, a unanimous decision over Nate Diaz and a split decision against Gilbert Melendez. But four times was not a charm as Anthony Pettis locked in an armbar and tapped Henson out in their first round title tilt back in August of 2013.
After four more fights in the lightweight division, in which he went 2-2, Henderson decided that a step up in weight class would do him good and debuted at 170 with a fourth-round submission over Brandon Thatch in February of this year. It will be interesting to see how Smooth does in the welterweight division against top tier competition. His opponent on Saturday was originally slated to be Thiago Alves, but Masvidal was given the assignment after Alves pulled out with a rib injury.
Jorge Masvidal (29-9, 11 KO’s, 2 Subs)
Jorge Masvidal has been a busy boy since entering the UFC in April of 2013 with a total of eight fights over the span of two years. Masdival has won six of those eight contests and earned his first knockout under the UFC banner with a first round starching of Cezar Ferreira in his last outing in July. That additional dose of power may have come courtesy of his return to 170 after toiling in the lightweight class over the last few years. His opponent on Saturday night, Ben Henderson, will be his classiest opponent since he fought Gilbert Melendez for the Strikeforce lightweight championship back in December of 2011 in which he lost by unanimous decision.
Masvidal is a high class brawler with a black belt in freestyle fighting and a penchant for knocking people silly. He prefers to stand and trade rather than take the fight to the mat but has experience dealing with everyone from boxers to grapplers. He has only been knocked out once in his career, submitted twice, and has no shortage of confidence as evidenced by these comments before his February fight against Al Iaquinta:
“Everybody from Strikeforce coming over got a marquee matchup,” Masvidal said. “Everybody from the bottom feeders to the decent guys to the A-level guys. And, maybe I wasn’t a champ – I fought for the title, wasn’t a champ – but I wasn’t a bottom feeder. I thought I should have gotten a marquee matchup long ago. I’m seven fights in now and I’m still fighting dudes who I don’t even know who the f*ck he is. I’ve never seen this dude fight in my life.”
For the record, Masdival lost that fight via split decision. So much for bottom feeders.
Benson Henderson is a big step up in class at 170 pounds for Masvidal. The former UFC lightweight champion is a multidimensional fighter with flawless technique and a seamless ground game to boot. He also has another trick up his sleeve in those devastating leg kicks reminiscent of featherweight king Jose Aldo. As the fight progresses, don’t be surprised to see Masvidal wince every time Henderson winds up one of those booming kicks to his quads, calves or knees.
In addition, this is a main event, which means it is a five-round match, which favors the former champ Henderson who has had more than a few of these under his belt. That experience coupled with his renowned cardio is why the UFC odds makers are installing Henderson as a better than -200 favorite. While we cannot discount Masvidal’s power and his impressive takedown defense, he is a fighter who will most likely hover around the top 10 welterweights in the world. Conversely, Benson Henderson will soon be making a case for a title shot once he defeats Masvidal followed by a victory over a top five opponent. Take this into consideration for your UFC picks.
Free UFC Pick: Bet Henderson -241 at Pinnacle