UFC on FOX 7: Benson Henderson (-275) vs. Gilbert Melendez (+235)
The undisputed lightweight championship is on the line in the main event of UFC on FOX 7 as UFC title holder Benson Henderson takes on former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, who is making his UFC debut.
Henderson (18-2) has won six straight fights to start his UFC career, including two victories over Frankie Edgar and wins over Clay Guida, Jim Miller, and Nate Diaz. The 29 year old is an extremely well-rounded fighter who possesses exceptional grappling, vicious leg kicks as well as cardio for days. Henderson also seems to be well liked by the judges, winning two controversial decisions over Edgar.
If Henderson has any weakness it is his boxing. And that so happens to be one of Melendez’ strengths, making this is a very intriguing matchup for the undisputed title.
Melendez (21-2) is finally making his UFC debut after a career spent fighting for Strikeforce and in Japan, where he fought for organizations such as PRIDE, K-1, and Shooto. The 31 year old is a well-rounded fighter who possesses excellent boxing, strong wrestling, and dangerous BJJ.
What Melendez needs to do is stop Henderson’s takedowns and keep the fight on the feet. Even though Henderson has great leg kicks, he’s been exposed by better boxers before and Melendez’ boxing is top notch. Hopefully Melendez has been training his takedown defense because Henderson’s plan is almost certainly to take this fight to the mat and beat him there. If Melendez can stop that, he can make things very interesting and he could possibly walk away with the upset.
Melendez will have success on his feet in the first couple of rounds and may even win a few if he’s able to avoid Henderson’s takedown attempts. However, he will start to tire as Henderson uses his size effectively to grind on his opponent. Eventually, Henderson will get the takedowns and use his dominant ground game to smother Melendez, damage him, and win a decision.
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