Round one of the highly anticipated UFC Lightweight title fight between champion Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz saw the title holder working the younger, lighter fighter against the cage and walls. When he wasn’t pummeling him in the clinch with knees or strikes, Diaz found himself on the losing end of the grappling exchanges as well. Diaz finally got a brief takedown in the second but was unable to do much with it.
After the damage done to his legs from the repeated abuse from Henderson’s leg kicks, Diaz was unable to move with the usual pace and get as much pop on his punches, something that came into play much later. Another takedown landed from Henderson in third and after a prolonged battle on the mat that led to several potential submission attempts, including a leglock that saw Henderson stuck in a split, Henderson rocked Diaz with a big right hand back on their feet. Henderson capped off the frame with a big axe kick. For Diaz, it was his best chance to steal the fight as he chain grappled from his back and worked on several leg locks.
Big takedown from the champion leveled the challenger early to start the fourth round. The younger Diaz brother’s lack of championship experience wasn’t a factor here, he just saw Henderson force his gameplan on him, even beating on the calves of a grounded Diaz with punches. Diaz’ frustration was evident as he tried to motion Henderson into his guard, but to no avail.
Knowing that he had to go for broke to take the fight away from Henderson, being pressed against the fence early probably wasn’t what Diaz wanted but that is what he got in the fifth. A big slam from the champion leads to a prolonged period of ground and pound. 122-17 total significant strikes were thrown with half of the final round gone, a disgusting number if there ever was one. To end the bout, Diaz and Henderson take turns gesticulating for the other to jump in wildly to no avail.
Winner: Benson Henderson by unanimous decision (50-43, 50-45, 50-45)
With the win, Benson Henderson moves to 18-2 and 6-0 in UFC. Diaz slips to 16-8 and 11-6 in UFC.