UFC ON FOX 10: HENDERSON VS. THOMSON Date: Jan. 25, 2014 Location: Chicago, Il. Broadcast: FOX UFC Lightweight Benson Henderson (-210) Profile: The former WEC lightweight champion and the man to dethrone Frankie Edgar from his 155-pound UFC title, Benson “Smooth” Henderson (19-3) had his seven-fight winning streak snapped by his former WEC foe, Anthony Pettis, at UFC 164. This saw Benson lose his undisputed lightweight title to Pettis once again in a ‘same story, different promotion’ type of situation. For the most part, Benson has done nothing but impress in his seven-year MMA career. He has a complete fighting game, from a devastating wrestling base to a submission game to make anyone think twice (eight submission wins and a standing guillotine to fear) along with solid stand-up and ring intelligence that is off the charts. The 30-year-old Henderson is set to be in the mix at lightweight for a very long time. He has dominating wins of Nate Diaz, Jim Miller and Clay Guida, as well as close wins over Frankie Edgar (twice) and Gilbert Melendez. Ben Henderson has simply beat a who’s who of the lightweight division. Everyone but Anthony Pettis, and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson. UFC Lightweight Josh Thomson (+160) Profile: Josh Thomson (20-5, 1 NC) is best known for his nearly seven-year-long stint in Strikeforce, which included three epic fights with Gilbert Melendez for the lightweight title. But before Strikeforce, Thomson was a 2-1 in the UFC before being unceremoniously let go by the organization. The 35-year-old San Jose native is a true veteran of the sport and as a founding member of the famed American Kickboxing Academy, he’s comfortable anywhere the fight goes. The former Strikeforce lightweight champion has strong wrestling, good takedowns, and the ability to stand with nearly anyone. His knockout win over Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 7 was incredible, and on top of that, Thomson has good experience fighting off his back as evidenced by his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and nine submissions. Thomson is scrappy and skilled, but he can also be his own worst enemy. Injury-prone in the last few years, he has amassed only seven fights since late 2009. Perhaps due to these injuries, Thomson has turned to his takedowns and stifling wrestling in recent years, shying away from his inner brawler, which has paid off with wins against K.J. Noons and Pat Healy while nearly leading to victory in a razor-thin, controversial split-decision loss to Melendez in their third meeting in 2012. Thomson was scheduled to fight Anthony Pettis for the UFC lightweight title, but in an ironic twist, it was Pettis who would be injured and have to back out, so Thomson took a fight with former champion Benson Henderson, not fearing losing his spot in the lightweight hierarchy. Opening UFC Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Henderson a -210 betting favorite (bet $210 to win $100), while Thomson opened as a +160 underdog (bet $100 to win $160) at Several Bookmakers. Although Henderson is coming off a loss and Thomson a win, it makes sense for these two to match up with Pettis injured, and I expect the winner of this fight to be in title contention when Pettis does return. As far as how Henderson and Thomson match up, they are both very well-rounded fighters with good wrestling and standup skills. But the biggest difference is, over their careers, the judges seem to side more with Henderson’s style of fighting rather than Thomson’s. And considering I’m fully expecting this fight to go the full five-round distance and having the judges decide it, it makes a lot of sense for Henderson to open as a 2-to-1 favorite here. I think this is going to be an awesome fight and it could win FOTN at UFC on FOX 10, but gun to head I’m taking Henderson to pull off yet another controversial split decision win.