Ben Henderson looked very comfortable tonight as he picked apart Nate Diaz with leg kicks and controlled him with dominant wrestling over five rounds at ‘UFC On FOX 5’.
Straight away Henderson started chopping away at Diaz legs with kicks, a strategy many had believed he would employ against his rangier opponent.
They clinch up and jostle for dominance against the cage while exchanging knee strikes. Diaz tries to get a throw, but Henderson stays upright. Attempting to return the favor Henderson gets double underhooks and looks for the takedown, but can’t land it.
Breaking apart Diaz looks to strike, but Henderson opts for a takedown and this time he gets it. Following Diaz to the mat he lands a powerful strike and Diaz gives up his back and then works to his feet.
A leg sweep takes Diaz back down and Henderson works in a few more solid shots before they get back up again.
Diaz has as yet been unable to let loose with his combinations, but interestingly in the final minute of the round Henderson manages to land a couple of nice shots on him. Good round for Henderson overall and Diaz mouths off and squares up to him after the bell before they head to their corners.
Henderson starts off round two with another hard low kick. He then gets another brief takedown before they get back to a clinch battle against the cage. Henderson outmuscles him from there and then lands a nice elbow as he breaks away.
More low leg kicks from Henderson and they are quite literally taking Diaz off his stride and he’s struggling to get into this fight.
Henderson changes things up, going upstairs with a big punch that sends Diaz tumbling backwards onto the mat. Henderson follows, but Diaz head is still clear and he does a good job yet again of getting back up.
They clinch and Diaz tries a throw which is unsuccessful, but then he tries it again and gets his opponent down. It’s momentary though with Henderson swiftly bouncing back to his feet.
Round three and Henderson starts working alternative attacks on his opponent’s leg, punching it and throwing a side kick, while Diaz tries to get loose with some punches but can’t quite find his range.
Another takedown from Henderson and Diaz tries to work for a leg lock but can’t get it. He manages to get up, but soon after Henderson effortlessly takes him back down.
Henderson takes his time and looks for strikes, but Diaz pounces on a leg again and tries to go for a toe hold. It’s a rare offensive moment for Diaz, but the champion is wise to it and defends.
The two scramble and Diaz once again looks for some form of leg lock, but Henderson shows his flexibility as he defends it.
Back on the feet Henderson lands a big strike and drops Diaz and the fans are roaring him on as he swarms in with punches. Diaz says he’s ok though and survives. With just a few seconds of the round left Henderson lands an axe kick to the body of his grounded adversary and lands a few punches.
Diaz tries to get his punches going early in the fourth, but he’s still not finding his range. Henderson continues working to the legs and then lands a string of takedowns in succession. He’s finding it difficult to keep him down, but he’s able to put him there repeatedly with relative ease.
On the fourth attempt he finally manages to keep Diaz down for a signficant period of time and lands some decent ground and pound the body, while Diaz tries but fails to lock up a kimura attempt.
in the final minute Henderson stands over his grounded opponent punching at his calfs. A frustated Diaz motions him to drop down into his guard but the plea is ignored. Diaz gets to his feet in the final seconds and is met with yet another low kick.
Onto the final round and Diaz needs a miracle if he wants the title. It looks unlikely though as Henderson presses forward in the opening minute and clinches up with him against the cage, giving him no room to work.
Henderson spins to his back and then lifts him up in the air and dumps him to the mat. Standing over him Henderson starts working ground and pound.
Diaz gets back to his feet with Henderson still stifling him in the clinch. He then spins Diaz again and takes his back standing before dragging him down.
Up they go again and Diaz tries for the throw himself, but in the scramble it’s Henderson who ends up on top and time is quickly running out for the challenger.
Back on the feet in the final seconds of the fight Diaz manages to land a punch, but Henderson isn’t hurt and that’s the end of the fight.
Onto the judges scorecards and Henderson unsurprisingly claims a clean sweep to earn the uananimous decision (50-43, 50-45 x2).
Diaz will be disappointed he didn’t give a better account of himself here, never looking like his usual self. The majority of the credit for that has to go to Henderson though who took him completely out of his comfort zone with hard leg kicks and relentless takedowns, and event managed to hurt him several times with punches on the feet in the later rounds too to cap off an impressive display.