UFC on FOX 7: April 20, 2013 HP Pavilion in San Jose, CaliforniaGilbert Melendez Lightweight Title Bout UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson (-205) Profile: The former WEC lightweight champion and the man to dethrone Frankie Edgar from his 155-pound UFC title, Benson “Smooth” Henderson (18-2) has done nothing but impress in his six-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 29-year-old Henderson is the future of the sport. The only real blemish on his record came when he lost his WEC lightweight title to Anthony Pettis at WEC 53, but not many people could have won that battle. Henderson’s exciting style and well-rounded skills have transformed him into the reigning champ and should make the lightweight division very interesting to watch for years to come. He is coming off the most dominant performance of his career in a unanimous decision win over Nate Diaz and will get the opportunity to square off against Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez in his next defense. UFC #1 Lightweight Contender (former Strikeforce champ) Gilbert Melendez (+155) Profile: Dominant Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez (21-2) has spent the last few years in the organization mopping up the competition and waiting for an opportunity in the UFC. Currently on a seven-fight winning streak, “El Nino” has defeated all of his opponents with ease over the past four years besides a hard-fought trilogy he won against Josh Thomson that includes his last loss. Melendez has trained in the famed Cesar Gracie fight camp, and the 30-year-old Bay Area native has the best of the best to work with in terms of stand-up and grounds games. Working out with elite fighters like the Diaz brothers and Jake Shields, it is hard not to be impressed by his training regime. Opening UFC on FOX 7 Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made Henderson a -205 favorite (bet $205 to win $100) while Melendez opened as a +155 underdog (bet $100 to win $155) at 5Dimes sportsbook. Kalikas had the betting public in mind when making this opening number, knowing they will remember how well Henderson performed against Diaz and forget just how good Melendez really is. “This fight should be around Pick’em with a slight edge to Bendo being the UFC champ and in the spotlight more,” Kalikas said. “In most bettors’ minds, you’re only as good as your last fight, and Bendo is coming off the best performance of his career against a legit fighter in Diaz while Melendez is coming off one of his worst performances in a controversial decision win against Thomson. I think it’s a much closer fight than the line indicates. As far as pure matchups go, it should be very competitive.”


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