Benson Henderson has not lost since joining the UFC. | Photo: Sherdog.com
It was a close call when Benson Henderson wrested the lightweight strap from Frankie Edgar at UFC 144, and it was an even closer call when “Smooth” retained that same title in a rematch with “The Answer” at UFC 150 some six months later.
Players in Sherdog.com’s MMA Pick’Em fantasy game have taken notice of Henderson’s winning ways in high-pressure situations, as 61 percent have selected the MMA Lab product to defeat Nate Diaz in the UFC on Fox 5 main event on Saturday at the Key Arena in Seattle.
Henderson has been on a tear since exiting World Extreme Cagefighting with a five-round loss to Anthony Pettis in December 2010. Since that defeat, Henderson has notched victories over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida before twice vanquishing Edgar. All five of the champion’s wins in the Octagon have gone the distance.
After bouncing back and forth between 155 and 170 pounds, Diaz seems to have found a permanent home at lightweight. Dominant wins over Takanori Gomi, Donald Cerrone and Miller have launched the Stockton, Calif., native into title contention. Known for his high-volume boxing and dangerous jiu-jitsu, Diaz has finished 14 of his 16 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
Other Pick’Em Trends for UFC on Fox 5:
• Alexander Gustafsson is viewed by many as the next great threat to Jon Jones at 205 pounds, and 61 percent of participants like him to continue his ascent up the division by knocking off former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Gustafsson passed a big test in his last outing, knocking off veteran Thiago Silva in his home country at UFC on Fuel TV 2. Rua, meanwhile, finished off Brandon Vera in the fourth round at UFC on Fox 4 in his most recent appearance;
• Like Gustafsson at light heavyweight, Rory MacDonald has been dubbed as a person of interest at 170 pounds. Fantasy competitors seem to believe the hype, as 61 percent of them have sided with “Ares” in his featured clash against B.J. Penn. MacDonald has won four of his five UFC bouts, most recently pounding out British slugger Che Mills at UFC 145. Penn returns to active competition for the first time since UFC 137, where he was battered by Nick Diaz in a unanimous decision defeat;
• Mike Swick was the feel-good story of UFC on Fox 4, returning to the Octagon after a lengthy, injury-plagued hiatus to stop DaMarques Johnson in the second frame. The vast majority of players (85 percent) expect “Quick” to continue his momentum against Matt Brown, who enters the welterweight bout having won three straight bouts in 2012;
• In undercard bouts, users favor Jeremy Stephens (77 percent) over Yves Edwards, Mike Easton (87 percent) over Raphael Assuncao, Ramsey Nijem (81 percent) over Joe Proctor, Daron Cruickshank (83 percent) over Henry Martinez, Dennis Siver (79 percent) over Nam Phan, Scott Jorgensen (95 percent) over John Albert and Tim Means (95 percent) over Abel Trujillo.