Who wins the UFC Fight Night 79 main event between Ben Henderson and Jorge Masvidal, and how?
MICHAEL BANE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
The main event for UFC Fight Night 79 is a battle of lightweights who have agreed not to cut weight for their fight and take the tilt at 170 lbs instead. Okay, that’s not exactly what happened, but it’s humorous that two guys who left 155 lbs behind after losing controversial decisions are now meeting in a fight they could have had in their old division. This wasn’t supposed to be the case, but it’s what circumstance left us with when Thiago Alves was injured and Jorge Masvidal moved up to the main event to take on Benson Henderson.
Picking a Henderson fight is generally a safe proposition. Henderson is an elite level fighter who lacks the ability to finish consistently. He also fights a style that often confuses judges scorecards, so he tends to pull victories out of fights he should probably lose (see Thomson, Josh). Henderson has strong wrestling and very technical striking, and uses a variety of innovative techniques such as calf kicks, leg punches, and the increasingly popular oblique kick. When he does finish, he prefers submissions, as knocking people out isn’t really part of his arsenal.
Masvidal is a very game (no pun intended with his Gambred nickname) fighter who’s really been around the block. And I mean that pretty literally, as he earned some internet fame in Miami for participating in the same street fights for which Kimbo Slice gained recognition. He’s fought for all of the major promotions over the past twelve years, and has put together a very solid career. He’s also doesn’t sport the most prodigious finishing rate, but when he does stop a fight early, it’s usually with striking.
Henderson could have easily won a few fights and established himself as a title contender again in the lightweight division, especially now that Anthony Pettis (who beat him twice) is no longer the champ. Due to frustration or impatience, he left for greener pastures. The most fascinating thing about Henderson is how his skill level and lack of finishing ability is going to translate in a higher weight class. He was almost comically undersized in his UFC welterweight debut against Brandon Thatch, which he impressively won.
Masvidal, on the other hand, was never going to be much more than a high level gatekeeper. He had about topped out at 155 lbs, and I can’t realistically see him doing any better at 170 lbs. It might even be worse for him, as he’s a fighter who likes to stand and bang, and there’s a lot harder hitters going up the ladder than there is down. I’d pick Henderson in this match if they were at lightweight, and it’s no different at welterweight. In a boring and uninspiring pick, much like Bendo’s fights tend to be, Henderson defeats Masvidal by decision in a battle of two undersized welterweights, or as I like to call them, REALLY BIG LIGHTWEIGHTS.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I’ll take Henderson by decision in a lackluster fight. I don’t think this fight will be all that exciting. It’s interesting on paper, and I hope it delivers some excitement, but I think Henderson grinds out a tough decision. I don’t think Masvidal will be able to force Henderson to fight to the best of his abilities and that leads to a dull fight. I hope I’m wrong, but both guys have more decision wins than anything else so it’s likely this holds true to that course.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Benson Henderson is in a nice little upswing after a successful fight at 170 lbs, so I’m going to take Bendo to win this fight by decision. I don’t feel like we’re going to see a knock down, drag out brawl because that could go in the favor of Masdival. Bendo UD in a slow plodding fight.
DAYNE FOX, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Bendo should take the fight with relative ease.He doesn’t get enough credit for being a former champion who did defend his belt three times (controversial or not, he did do it); and he’s facing an opponent in Masvidal who is a former lightweight, meaning he won’t have to deal with the massive size difference he had to account for in his last fight with Brandon Thatch. If Masvidal had more finishing skills, I might be more inclined to give him a better shot, but he doesn’t possess the power or slick submission skills that Anthony Pettis or Rafael dos Anjos possess, the last two fighters to defeat Bendo. Bendo is used to five round fights as well, something Masvidal has only done once in a losing effort to Gilbert Melendez. It will probably be a grinding affair, similar to Bendo’s fight with Josh Thomson almost two years ago, with Bendo once again coming out on top.
[Ben Henderson art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]