The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 59 is a three-round lightweight bout between Benson Henderson and Donald Cerrone. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Henderson is a -145 favorite (bet $145 to win $100) while Cerrone is a +125 underdog (bet $100 to win $125). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Henderson and Cerrone at -120 a piece and the public seemed to have settled on Henderson as the favorite. It’s a competitive fight but I actually like the underdog Cerrone in this one. Here’s why. Henderson (21-4) is the former UFC lightweight champion and is one of the top fighters in the division. The 31-year-old American is 9-2 in the UFC with wins over Rustam Khabilov, Josh Thomson, Frankie Edgar (x 2), Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, Clay Guida, Jim Miller and Mark Bocek, with losses to Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Pettis. He also holds two wins over Cerrone from back in the WEC. Henderson is good everywhere which is why he is such a dangerous opponent. He has very good wrestling, great cardio, a good submission game, good striking, and a lot of experience. However, he appears to be on a decline. He is coming off of a surprising knockout loss to RDA and was submitted by Pettis a year-and-a-half ago. He also had the win over Thomson in between those fights, but it was a controversial decision, as were his decisions over Edgar and Melendez. I like Henderson, but it looks like he has peaked and is on the decline now. Clearly the bettors do not agree as he is the favorite in this fight now, but I wouldn’t be laying juice on him at this point of his career. He can grind Cerrone out and I wouldn’t be shocked if it happened, but I actually think it’s more likely Cerrone gets his hand raised here and I’m surprised the public took the line the way it has. Cerrone (26-6, 1 NC) is one of the top-five lightweight fighters in the sport. The 31-year-old American is one of the busiest fighters in the UFC and since coming over to the Octagon from the WEC back in 2011, he has compiled a 13-3 record with wins over the likes of Myles Jury, Eddie Alvarez, Jim Miller, Edson Barboza, Adriano Martins, Evan Dunham, Charles Oliveira, Dennis Siver, Melvin Guillard and Jeremy Stephens and losses to Nate Diaz, Rafael dos Anjos and UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. Cerrone is extremely dangerous both standing and on the ground, but it’s his striking that is his best attribute. He is one of the most devastating strikers in the division, capable of ending fights with his knees, kicks, and punches, and he has the cardio to keep up his vicious onslaught for 15 or 25 full minutes. He also has a tremendous chin and has never been knocked out due to head strikes in his career, although Pettis did stop him to the body with a kick. His submission game is also extremely lethal, and he’s one of those fighters who, if he knocks you down to the mat, can take your back in a split second and choke you out. Aside from his knockout power and submission skills, he also has very underrated wrestling, both offensively and defensively. He is coming off of a lopsided win over Jury and while he does have two losses already to Henderson, he has improved big time since the WEC days and I think Cerrone has a good chance of winning this fight, and I’m surprised once again by the disrespect from bettors as they have bet Henderson up and made Cerrone the underdog in this fight. On paper this is a really close fight for sure, and while I could see Henderson sneaking out one of his patented split decisions, I think Cerrone is the more likely winner this time around. Yes, Henderson does have two wins over Cerrone already but both men are different fighters and I think Cerrone, especially, has drastically improved since these two last met. I think Cerrone is on fire right now and with all the momentum behind him, I like him to extend his win streak with this one. I am not even concerned with the fact he is taking this fight on short notice after having recently fought Myles Jury because he took no damage at all in that fight. In fact, we saw Chas Skelly pull off a similar feat last year, and the results were very successful for him inside the cage. I think Cerrone can win this fight by decision, by knockout, and even by submission. I like him here and as the underdog at +125 I’m going to make a value play on him because I think he should be the favorite.
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