Pettis vs Henderson 2: The Rematch We Have All Been Waiting For

Posted: August 30, 2013 in MMA
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Jason Head_Shot[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

Pettis vs Henderson 2 will go down this Saturday in Pettis’ hometown of Milwaukee. It is one of the most anticipated rematches in a long time. These two first met at WEC 53 where Pettis was able to steal the decision with the infamous “Showtime kick” off the fence in the final minute of the 5th round.

These two fighters match-up as close as two fighters possibly could. Both fighters have areas where they excel over the other, but both are very competent in all aspects of the game. We can find advantages and disadvantages all over the place in this fight.

Benson has a better all round game than Pettis, but it only matters if he is able to use all of his skills efficiently. Pettis has the better striking, Benson is the better wrestler and utilizes control better, and both fighters have great Jiu Jitsu and submission defence.

Both fighters have the same landing percentage with Anthony landing 43% to Benson’s 44%. However, Anthony  lands almost 30% more of his total strikes while standing, while Benson uses a lot more ground and pound. Anthony is a lot more dangerous, while the fight is standing. He is more technical, uses angels better, is more accurate and posses stopping power.

Benson has a slightly higher output of strikes, but Anthony is the more methodical striker. The clinch is where Anthony has the largest striking advantage and is where Benson is the least efficient. Anthony lands 63% of his power strikes to the head in the clinch to Benson’s 50%. Also, it is important to point out that in the clinch is where Benson is most vulnerable to strikes avoiding only 55%.

However, it should also be noted that Benson usually uses the clinch to initiate takedown attempts.

Benson has been on a 7-fight win streak since entering the UFC, which is very impressive. It is essential to point out that in all 7 of those fights he has been the better kick boxer. He has been better at utilizing range by using a variety of effective kicks and knees while using his wrestling to prevent the fight from going to the ground.

This is going to be a different situation, and one that Benson has not been in for a long time. With Pettis having the advantage at the kickboxing range, Henderson will have to use his wrestling to get the fight to the ground.

Pettis’ biggest advantage over Henderson in striking is that he is a finisher he has a lot more power than Benson. If the fight remains standing Pettis has the ability to end it with a big kick or punch. Benson is more of a point striker; he avoids a lot of strikes and throws a high volume of strikes out scoring his opponents.

Henderson is the better wrestler out of the two, but Anthony is more aggressive and a little bit slicker with his jiu jitsu. Pettis is the a fighter that is always on the offence no matter what. Whether he is standing, on top, or on his back he is going for the finish.

After the Clay Guida fight, a lot of people feel as though the blue print was out on how to beat Anthony Pettis. Clay was able to stifle his submission attempts and hold on to top control for the unanimous decision victory. I think it is a little soon to assume that is the blue print for beating Pettis. Pettis does not attempt takedowns very often but is very successful when he does finishing 77% of his attempts.

The first time these two met Henderson attempted 10 takedowns completing 3 of them while Pettis attempted 2 and completed both, as well as two sweeps. There first fight was so long ago that is probably a moot point, but is interesting all the same.

Henderson is very good at mixing up his striking and takedowns averaging 2-takedown attempts per round, to Pettis’ .7 per round. Where Pettis excels on the ground is with his ability to sweep from the bottom, and his aggressive submission attempts. It makes him very tricky and tough to manage.

Henderson has very effective ground and pound from the top position out striking opponents almost 3:1.

Both fighters’ are tight across the board statistically. Both fighters have a 65% takedown defence, and both have a 100% submission defence. In fact, Pettis has never been stopped, and Henderson has not been stopped since March 31st 2007, when Rocky Johnson submitted him via anaconda choke in his 3rd professional fight. So neither fighter is going to be easy to finish.

An interesting element to this fight is that we began to see improvements in Anthony’s wrestling in the Jeremy Stephens fight. Since then, we have only seen him in the octagon for a total of 3min 56sec that is under a round of tape for Benson to study.

Benson literally has less than a round to study from the past two years on Pettis. He finished Joe Lauzon in 1min 21sec and Donald Cerrone in 2min 35sec.

On the flip side of that coin, we have seen Benson fight 5 times for a total of 23 rounds. That is 115 minutes of tape for Pettis and his coaches to break down.

Now there are a couple different ways to look at it. Is it going to be an advantage for Benson because he has been more active and had a lot more experience in 5 round championship fights, or will it be an advantage for Pettis who will be able to breakdown Benson’s game and create a much more accurate well-informed game plan.

The X factor for Pettis as always is his unpredictability, He brings a different level of athleticism than Henderson is used to, and Henderson knows that better than anyone. Benson will have to be on his toes and look for Pettis to do things he has never seen before. Benson is normally very relaxed in the octagon, and being able to mess with that even a little bit will be valuable for Pettis during the fight.

Henderson’s X factor is going to be his confidence. He is riding high right now and seems unshakable in the octagon. This is a guy who fought Nate Diaz for 25 minutes with a toothpick in his mouth, has beaten Frankie Edgar twice and welcomed Gilbert Melendez to the UFC by beating him in San Jose. He is going to walk in the octagon Saturday night with swagger. He is going to carry himself like Pettis has been locked inside his octagon and that is going to be his biggest asset.

For me, I feel like if Benson is able to effectively wrestle and mix it in with his striking he is going to be a really tough puzzle to solve. If Anthony can grapple with Benson when he has to and maybe mix in a one or two takedowns of his own it will provide him with openings to land very powerful effective strikes and take the belt home. So, who will be able to implement their plan?I guess only time will tell.

I know this for sure though there is no fight that has happened or will happen this year that I am looking forward to more than this one. It is going to be a war, and I can not wait.

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