FOX analyst and former UFC middleweight contender “All American” Brian Stann gave MMAWeekly.com his breakdown of the UFC on Fox 10 main card fights. In his final breakdown, Stann gives us his thoughts on the main event lightweight fight pitting Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson.
Henderson and Thomson are both former champions; Henderson in the WEC and UFC, and Thomson in Strikeforce.
Henderson (19-3) is trying to rebound after losing his UFC lightweight belt to Anthony Pettis. Thomson (20-5, 1 NC), coming off of a knockout victory over Nate Diaz, was supposed to have challenged Pettis, but that fight was derailed due to a Pettis knee injury.
People forget how long Josh Thomson has been an elite-level fighter. Back when I first started putting on gloves in 2004, 2005, Josh was considered the best lightweight in the world. They didn’t have a UFC [lightweight] belt back then when he knocked out Yves Edwards, but those two guys were incredible. Who could forget his fights against Yves and Hermes Franca?
He was one of the first guys who was really, really well rounded at everything.
The big thing in this fight is Josh is one of those straight shooting guys, really intelligent, but he’s come out and said, ‘Look, I’ve had a long training camp, had trouble with focus.’ He’s talked about all those things. You gotta wonder. Has he gotten all that taken care of? Will he walk into that Octagon focused and ready to go?
It’s not something you can just turn on on fight day. I know that from experience. You can’t do a fight camp where your mind is all over the place and then just pretend, you know, the day of the fight, I’ll be there. I’ll be a gamer, ready to go. It really doesn’t work that way in this sport, especially when you’re talking about a Benson Henderson who is coming off of a loss.
The last time he lost, he came out on a tear; when he lost to Anthony Pettis in the WEC. While Ben was criticized a little bit for being a safe fighter while he was champion, and people thought he was a little conservative, we may see him come out a little more agressive in this fight coming off of a loss and wanting to prove a point and wanting to get his title back. When he does that, he’s such a good athlete, and he’s so physically dominant in the clinch, it makes for that really interesting battle.
If we get the best Josh vs. the best Ben, can Josh hang with this new breed of fighter?
Yeah, he can. He was so far ahead of his time back then that I believe he can. He’s very athletic and, whether he’s focused or not, you’ve always got a tough fight against him.
Go a little further and talk to a guy like Gilbert Melendez, who gave Ben Henderson everything he could handle. In fact, I thought Gilbert won that fight, that decision. And Gilbert, who I spoke to about a week and a half ago, he said anytime you strap up to fight this kid, it’s not easy. So I think Josh can absolutely hang with those guys and on a given night, when he’s focused, he can beat any one of them. But he can also lost to any one of them, they’re all just that good.
If I had to pick one, I’d probably say Yves Jabouin and Eddie Wineland, just because of the styles. Yves sometimes has a tendency to hit and move, hit and move, hit and move, and really use his athleticism, but he’s got such a great variety of strikes and athleticism that he throws, that I think his style will match well. We all know what Wineland is gonna do. Wineland is gonna come down and he’s gone a draw a line on the floor of the Octagon and dare you to step across it. And that will make for a really fun fight to watch. Yves is gonna get creative with his strikes, his combinations, and Wineland, who is a very skilled fighter himself, he’s gonna try and rip his head off.
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