Anthony Pettis will get his much-desired Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title fight this weekend (Aug. 31, 2013) at UFC 164. Equally as important, however, is the fact that he'll get his long-awaited rematch against current division kingpin, Ben Henderson.
Of course, most remember the event -- which was the last for the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion -- as the night Pettis landed his infamous "Showtime Kick" (which some consider a fluke) on Henderson in the closing minutes of the bout.
Since then, Benson has reeled off seven straight victories inside the Octagon, including three title defenses against Nate Diaz, Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez, earning and solidifying his spot atop the 155-pound ladder. However, the stench of his loss to Pettis three years ago still lingers for Henderson, who has had to answer countless questions about his former WEC stablemate leading up to their eventual do-over.
But as Duke Roufus -- Anthony's head trainer -- declared during his recent appearance on "The MMA Hour," a rematch against his star pupil was the last thing Benson wanted. Because if he truly wanted to rid himself of that ghost, he would have pushed a bit more for the rematch.
Something Duke says was far from what "Smooth" has been doing.
"I just think personally, as a former competitor, I lost to Maurice Smith in 1996, he's older than me, and I'm old, but if somebody said, 'Hey, we'll put a fight on between the two of you,' I'm going to go fight. I just think someone who lost a fight would want to take that fight again, especially in the manner that it went down. I mean, he didn't really push for that fight and I really believe round six is coming in this fight on Saturday. Anthony has this guy's number. It's going to show Saturday night. I think Anthony improved in every area that Benson Henderson is going to try and attack Anthony."
Their first bout took place in Glendale, Arizona, Benson's home turf, but the rematch will take place right in Anthony's backyard of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a place known for its dedicated and hardcore sports fans.
As far as the support "Showtime" will receive from his hometown fans, Roufus says he actually feels bad for "Smooth" due to all the hostility that awaits him in "The Badger State."
"I actually feel sorry for Ben Henderson, it's going to be a hostile crowd. This is going to be a Montreal, Brazil type crowd. I do man, it's going to be like fighting GSP in Montreal."
As far as his prediction for the bout, Duke didn't hesitate to predict his star pupil will get the finish -- via strikes or submission -- against a man who has only been stopped once in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
Furthermore, in Duke's point of view, Henderson has gotten better in some areas over the past 36 months, but his striking has actually worsened since WEC 53, saying Henderson lost focus on the fundamentals thanks to his desire to experiment in the stand-up department.
But, as the former kickboxing champion says, that's just his "humble opinion."