Benson Henderson (file photo) took it to Jim Miller. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood
It can be easy to get high on a fighter after a win and flee his bandwagon after a loss. If the Benson Henderson-Jim Miller co-main event at UFC Live 5 can serve as a reminder, it is that the stacked lightweight division is a case study in MMA Math rarely, if ever, adding up. MMA Math is the simple process of saying “A beat B, who beat C. Therefore, A beats C.”
Riding a seven-fight winning streak into the bout, Miller simply ran into a bigger and better fighter on Sunday at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, and the first round proved critical in defining the tone of the bout. Since lightweights rarely score one-punch knockouts, tactics and strategy are ever-important, especially in a three-round encounter, where dropping the first stanza becomes a pretty deep hole on the judges’ scorecards.
Henderson’s victory also provides some perspective on the likely skill sets that will help the lightweight division constantly reshuffle itself in the coming years. After getting “Showtime”-kicked and outpointed in his epic five-round WEC battle with Anthony Pettis in December, it will be interesting to see where Henderson lands in the next Sherdog.com rankings in relation to Pettis, who was slotted at No. 8 in July.
I have always believed that five-round fights truly determine the superior guy, particularly as fighters get smaller and conditioning and strategy become more important than one-shot striking power. I hope we see five-round contender elimination bouts soon.
With his impressive win over Miller, rated No. 6 in those same July rankings, one can make a strong case for Henderson between No. 6 and No. 9 -- at least until everyone’s next fight, which starts the game all over again. That is part of the fun, and folly, of relying too much on someone’s last fight and MMA Math.
Jason Probst can be reached at Jason@jasonprobst.com or twitter.com/jasonprobst.