UFC Lightweight champion Benson Henderson defended his belt for the second time with a dominant win over challenger Nate Diaz last night in Seattle, Washington at the UFC on FOX 5 event. Henderson employed a flawless gameplan that avoided a boxing match by dominating in the clinches and from top position on the ground. He bludgeoned Diaz, who claimed a first round eye injury left him seeing blurry the entire fight, for the full five rounds. Henderson faces a stiff lineup of contenders for his belt, but he proved that he is ready to hold on to the belt against all comers. In the post fight press conference, Henderson said ‘I want to fight the best in the world, line them up!’ And the UFC will!
Diaz, in the post fight press conference, lobbied for teammate and current STRIKEFORCE Lightweight titlist Gilbert Melendez to get the next shot at Henderson, and it could happen.
Melendez is a tough out for anyone, but he may be undersized for the UFC’s champion, as Henderson will enjoy reach, strength and possibly speed advantages. Henderson would be favored in the fight, possibly by a wider margin than he enjoyed with Diaz.
Another UFC outsider who could earn the shot at Henderson is free agent Eddie Alvarez, should he sign with the UFC. Alvarez has a knack for spectacular victories, and it would be the first time in a long time the betting public would have a chance to bet Alvarez as a true underdog, but Henderson deserves the respect. Hendo will also enjoy the same advantages of length and strength over Alvarez.
On January 26th, contenders Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis have a match that could result in the winner facing Henderson. Both men have fought the champion before, and Pettis owns a highlight reel KO win over Hendo, so this is likely the next fight.
As for Diaz, he said he wants his eye to heal, but that he is ready to go. In a recent interview, Alvarez spoke about Diaz having an exciting style, and about Diaz-Alvarez being a fight that the fans want to see. This would also be an intriguing fight, as Alvarez has had some trouble with tall, lanky opponents such as Nick Thompson and Shinja Aoki.
Before this weekend, it looked like the Lightweight title might be passed around between fighters with near equal talent for a while, just like the Lightheavyweight division in the era prior to Jon Jones. Henderson made a very strong case this past weekend that he will be around for a while.