There’s no doubt UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson and title-contender Anthony Pettis have evolved since a 2010 tilt seeing “Showtime” score a decision win. However, the question of how much is not so easy to answer. Though Henderson has gone 7-0 since the stumble, none of his victories have featured a finish, while Pettis is 3-1 in the same span with two knockouts but (obviously) a loss as well.
Fans will get a better idea of where Henderson and Pettis are currently at tomorrow night when they meet in the main event at UFC 164. Pettis offered up his thoughts on how he viewed the present version of Henderson in a recent interview with UFC.com, explaining he saw some definite areas of improvement but regression as well.
“He is changing up his stances and doing different things, but he’s not fighting much different. He’s a little more intense out there, but then again, he’s not convincingly winning fights,” explained Pettis.
“He’s not out there demolishing people, so when you fight a guy like Ben Henderson, I’m not worried about getting knocked out, I’m not worried about getting submitted; I’m worried about getting outpointed. So that plays into my game plan, how he’s been fighting,” he continued. “And not taking anything away from him, he’s a great fighter, he’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu, his striking’s getting better, and his wrestling’s some of the best in the division, so he’s one of those guys that has gotten better and understands the game a lot better too. And so do I.”
Pettis went on to acknowledge he’d worked hard on his wrestling after losing a decision to Clay Guida based on an inability to consistently stuff takedowns, stating he was ready for Henderson to try more of the same. Of course, he won’t be following suit regarding his approach to victory.
“There are two ways you can go about it. You can either say all right, now I need to play these rules to my advantage and I need to win on the judges’ scorecards and I’m still winning fights, or you can take it the way I take it and say all right, I need to finish these guys. I need to be that much better than these guys so it better not go to the judges’ scorecards, because if it does, there’s a good chance I could lose,” assessed Pettis. “I’m the guy now that I’m figuring out how to beat these guys in the first round. I don’t want to go five rounds and 25 minutes; I’m trying to get you out of there in the first five.”
The 16-2 Pettis has thirteen stoppages in his career including knockouts of Joe Lauzon and Donald Cerrone. Also noteworthy, eleven of his stoppages have come in the opening round of action.