UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson delivers blows against Nate… (Gregory Payan / Associated…)
Benson Henderson aspires to one day soon fight Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
The UFC lightweight champion will need to know he can take a mighty punch and deal with a strong ground-and-pound fighter before then.
So his Saturday title defense against Gilbert Meldendez on the seventh UFC on Fox card at San Jose’s HP Pavilion should be a good test.
Melendez (21-2) is the former Strikeforce lightweight champion from San Francisco who made six successful title defenses before the organization folded into the UFC last year.
“Gilbert is not the most technical fighter, but he has a lot of power in his hands,” Henderson said. “He’s very tough.”
So is Henderson, of course. The 29-year-old fighter (18-2) has beaten Clay Guida, ex-champion Frankie Edgar twice and Nate Diaz in his last four fights, moving to clean out the division and strengthen his case to UFC leaders to give him St-Pierre.
[Updated, 5:20 p.m.: UFC President Dana White says that Henderson is on their radar but he "has a way to go."
"Everyone wants him. He's where the money's at," White added.]
Henderson can increase his name recognition on Fox.
He says he’ll do the same things he usually does to win: "apply pressure, get him tired and beat him up.”
Henderson said by winning here he would convince the architect of his career, Coach John Crouch, that he is ready for long-reigning champion St-Pierre.
Crouch “says that’s the smart choice … win here, and let’s do it. That’ll be an interesting fight.”
The Fox card, starting at 5 p.m. Pacific time, also includes a heavyweight bout between former UFC champion Frank Mir and Strikeforce champion Daniel Cormier of San Jose with Nate Diaz fighting Josh Thomson.
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