UFC Fight Night 79 Preview

ufc_fn79The lightweight division is one of the toughest in the UFC with a long line of potential champions and a long list of former champions.

Among that list is Benson Henderson who is the perfect example of just how tough the lightweight division can be in the UFC.

Henderson was a star from the start of his UFC career in 2011 when he joined the promotion after the WEC-UFC merger.

He never lost a fight when he started his tenure in the UFC putting together a three fight win streak that sent him to the top of the division.

The former WEC champion got his chance to take the UFC title against Frankie Edgar in a period that began this massive backlog in the lightweight division.

Edgar had beaten BJ Penn in 2010 to claim the title and Penn was immediately given a shot to take the belt back.

Edgar beat him again and moved on to Gray Maynard in a trilogy that included one draw and two wins by Edgar.

It was almost two full years of Edgar’s career fighting only two opponents and the challengers were lining up for a shot at the title.

Henderson got the chance and beat Edgar in two straight fights to earn the title and earn his first title defence.

With Edgar out of the picture it was time for Henderson to go to work with the title and it started to look like he was going to steady the division.

One by one Henderson took out the challengers to the title including Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez.

Then he took on the fighter who took away his WEC title in Anthony Pettis and once again lost ending the reign of Henderson.

Since that loss Henderson has not been as consistent as he was when he earned the lightweight title.

He continued his career in the division with two straight wins followed by two straight losses to the current lightweight champion and the current lightweight challenger.

The man who was considered to be one of the strongest chances for a dominant champion in the lightweight division found himself at a difficult spot.

He didn’t seem good enough to compete against the new wave of great fighters but was still far better than most lightweight fighters.

A title shot did not seem in the cards for Henderson and so he began the pursuit of new title and moved to the welterweight division.

He was always a big lightweight fighter and so he moved to a weight class that better suited his natural weight.mma-sidebar.fw

The former champion was no longer a part of the lightweight division and it showed perfectly how tough that division had become over the last few years.

Henderson’s new division is not a lot easier though as there is a long list of challengers for Robbie Lawler’s title.

Henderson began his time in the new division with a win against a young rising fighter in Brandon Thatch but has had some issues with his next fight.

He was originally scheduled for a matchup against Jorge Masvidal only to be rescheduled for UFC Fight Night 79.

In that fight he would get the chance to fight in South Korea where his connection runs deep as his mother is a native of South Korea.

That fight was to be against Thiago Alves in a fight that could have put Henderson into the top 15 in the division.

Alves was hurt weeks before the fight though and so Masvidal came back into the picture as the new fight.

Neither fighter is ranked in the welterweight division but Masvidal has won four of his last five fights with his only loss coming in a split decision.

He is on his way to the top 15 in the division and a signature win against a former title holder in the UFC could get him there.

Meanwhile Henderson has the name recognition to get him to the rankings but he does need another win to show that he can hang in the welterweight division.


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