Two of the best lightweights in the world collide in what should be an epic fight.
In what should be one of the bouts of the year, Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson defends his lightweight belt against Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis in the main even of UFC 164 this weekend.
The pair are not strangers to each other with Pettis being the last man to defeat Henderson, back when the pair met in the final WEC event in December 2010.
It was there that Showtime lived up to his moniker and earned a knockdown on the then champion with one of the most stunning kicks seen in modern martial arts.
Since then Henderson has gone on to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the promotion, winning his last seven fights in a row, four of them being title bouts.
However, the one criticism Henderson has had in his career is that not enough of his wins have come way of stoppage, with just nine of his 19 career wins going to the judges.
Seven of those have occurred in his last seven fights.
But Henderson’s ability to stand toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world is unquestioned with the likes of Frankie Edgar (twice) Gilbert Melendez, Nate Diaz all coming off second best in recent match-ups.
Pettis gets his shot at the UFC title after being the replacement for the injured TJ Grant and is looking to re-create hiss heroics against Henderson three years ago.
Their previous bout was hailed as the best of the year by USA Today and MMAFighting.com with the “superkick” not the only thing that was taken away by fans of the sport.
Pettis comes into this weekend’s bout riding the crest of a wave in the form of a three-fight winning streak, with Jeremy Stephens (split decision), Joe Lauzon (knockout) and Donald Cerrone (TKO) all left in his wake.
On face value Pettis wins all of the vital striking stats with a greater jab accuracy (31 per cent to 19) and a greater significant strike accuracy to the head (30 per cent to 20).
This is backed up by the fact Pettis has a durable chin and has handed out five knockdowns in his career without being the victim of one.
Henderson’s record is in contrast to the challenger having been knocked down as many times as he had dished it out to his foe (three).
When it comes to the ground game, Henderson attempts on average two takedowns every round with a success rate of 48 per cent.
Pettis in the other hand has only averaged 0.7 takedowns every five minutes, but when he goes for it, ‘Showtime’ finishes the job with his opponent finding themselves in their back an impressive 77 per cent of the time.
But the tipping point in favour of the champion is his ability to control a fighter when in top position, with Henderson spending two thirds of his time on the ground in dictating the fight.
This has been a big reason why Henderson has been able to edge out so many close wins in his title run, something Pettis will be out to change this weekend.