Benson Henderson has posted 16 wins in his last 17 outings. | File Photo
Benson Henderson will defend his Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight crown against former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez in a showdown between the world’s top two 155-pound fighters in the UFC on Fox 7 main event on Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Spawned by the MMA Lab in Arizona, Henderson has yet to lose in six appearances since joining the UFC as part of the World Extreme Cagefighting merger in 2010. Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Melendez has won his last seven bouts, avenging the only two defeats of his career in the process.
Sherdog.com touched base with a number of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC on Fox 7 headliner:
Johny Hendricks: I’m going with Henderson. He finds a way to win.
Ed Herman: I gotta go with Henderson. He's a freak but Melendez is a crafty vet. it could go either way (and) it should be a great fight!
Tom DeBlass: I’m actually 50/50 on this. I can’t pick a winner.
Brock Jardine: I’m really looking forward to the Henderson-Melendez fight. I think it's going to be a “Fight of the Night” performance. I’m going with Melendez by decision.
Costas Philippou: Benson will beat Gilbert. Benson is too strong and athletic for Gilbert. Skill-wise they may be close, but Benson is a freak athlete.
Vitor Vianna: Benson has a big fight coming up. I think it’s better for Benson to use his takedowns and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The standup is 50/50, so the ground game makes the difference.
Mitch Clarke: I’m going with Benson by decision. I think he’s too big, too fast and will be able to grind up Melendez. Melendez is an excellent fighter, but he’s had a long layoff and is coming off some bad injuries into a big fight against a fighter who is more skilled and bigger.
Caros Fodor: I’m super pumped for this fight, man; really hard one to call. I am leaning towards Henderson simply because he has looked unstoppable in his last two fights. He has smashed his competition a lot more decisively than Melendez has. Henderson has the size and power to stop Gilbert’s takedowns, which I believe will win him the fight.
Steven Siler: I gotta go with Ben on this one. Both are very strong wrestlers with Ben having a slight size advantage, and he’s also a better striker then Gil, so I think he will get the decision win.
Brian Foster: Awesome fight. This is the battle of imports, Benson coming from the WEC and Gil from Strikeforce. It’s interesting because almost all the imported names have been tearing s--- up. Benson is an aggressive grinder, as is Melendez, but Henderson’s catch wrestling ability stands out. In the midst of a scramble, he snatches something and it’s usually pretty tight, whatever it is. Gil is a great fighter and a tough opponent for anyone, but to beat Benson, you’ve got to have abnormal striking technique, one I think Gil lacks. This is a great title defense fight for Ben.
Jeff Hougland: This should be a fun fight to watch. I don’t think Melendez gets the respect he deserves because he was fighting in Strikeforce, but he is tough as nails and I think he wants it more. I’m not just saying that because he beat me up. Melendez wins by split decision.
Spencer Fisher: I’m going for Melendez. I think he is better in all aspects than Henderson, and points go to Melendez for a better haircut.
Igor Araujo: I think this is the “Fight of the year.” I know we’re at the beginning of the year, but these guys, for me, are two of the best and most entertaining guys in the game. I give a 60/40 edge to Benson because he’s been in the UFC for a long time. Gilbert will hold this belt one day but not now. Benson wins by decision.
Joe Duarte: I have to go with Melendez.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: The Strikeforce guys are proving that the best fighters in the world weren’t only in the UFC. Benson is a tough guy and will have his moments, but in the end, Melendez takes the decision.
Keith Berry: Benson is so well-rounded, and his never-ending cardio also comes into play. I’m saying Benson wins by decision, but I’m sure it will be an exciting fight.
Gabe Ruediger: I’m going with Ben. He is one of the few guys I’ve had a chance to train with that I thought was a special talent.
Mark Bocek: Benson wins by decision.
Nam Phan: I’ve got Gilbert all the way.
Kyle Kingsbury: Benson is on another level than Gil. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but the fight will be lopsided.
Travis Wiuff: Melendez wins.
Eric Prindle: Benson all the way.
John Gunderson: Man, what a fight. This is the first time I can’t think of a clear-cut winner, but I’ll go with Gilbert because I’d love to see a Skrap Pack guy bring home the UFC belt.
Colton Smith: I’ve trained with Gil for a brief time and he is very unsuspecting physically and technically, and he can scrap. He’s a great fighter but Benson will take this; not easily, but he will win in a five-round scrap.
Robert Drysdale: Benson wins.
Alan Belcher: I pick Henderson. Dude is a freak athlete and a straight gangster with a toothpick.
Travis Lutter: Benson-Gilbert should be a really fun fight to watch, but I think Benson will be slightly faster of the duo. Also, I think he has the ability to decide, if needed, to put Gilbert on his back with his wrestling.
Pros Picking Henderson: 17
Pros Picking Melendez: 8
No Pick: 2
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