With this eighth edition of my special twelve-part “maxi-series” entitled “ufc 129 Complete Collection”, we’re now 75% completed. Throughout this twelve-part three-day series, I’ve done my best and will continue to do my best to get fans interested in, knowledgeable of, and excited for all twelve UFC 129 fights. For the previous entry in the series, please click here. Now it’s time to focus on what should be one of the most-stacked Pay-Per-View cards of the year. And what better way to start out such an important event than with a former WEC Lightweight Champion? It’s Mark Bocek vs. Ben Henderson, and it’s the first Pay-Per-View fight of “UFC 129 Complete Collection”.
Mark Bocek is one of many Canadian fighters that will be fighting in the UFC’s debut in Toronto, Ontario. Bocek entered the UFC back in 2007 and with a 4-0 record, with all four wins by stoppage: one TKO due to injury and three submissions. Unfortunately, Bocek lost his UFC debut to eventual UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar. In one of the first fights that would one day lead many to refer to Edgar as “The Answer”, Edgar TKO’d Bocek in the first round with only five seconds to spare.
Since that loss, Bocek has assembled a respectable record in the UFC, going 5-3. His losses were to the aforementioned Edgar as well as to Mac Danzig and Jim Miller. Jim Miller is currently one of the best and (dare I say it) most under-appreciated Lightweights in the UFC, while Mac Danzig was the winner of the sixth season of the popular UFC reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter”. Bocek is currently riding high on the heels of a submission victory over Dustin Hazelett that earned him “Submission of the Night”.
His opponent, Ben Henderson, stormed into the WEC with a record of 7-1 and immediately established his presence. With a near-unlimited gas tank combined with a high level of both speed and power, as well as a flexibility that led many to compare him to Gumby, Henderson would challenge for the Interim WEC Lightweight Championship after only two wins inside the famed blue cage.
At that time, it was widely believed that Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone were by far the two best Lightweights in the WEC. Henderson promptly took that notion and turned it right on its head by outlasting and ultimately besting Donald Cerrone in a fight that won “Fight of the Night” and was a serious contender for Fight of the Year. Henderson then unified the WEC Interim Lightweight and Lightweight Championships with a third-round submission win over the returning Jamie Varner.
Ben Henderson then capitalized on that momentum by beating Donald Cerrone yet again, this time shocking everyone and submitting Cerrone in the first round during the WEC’s first and only Pay-Per-View event. But Henderson’s defining moment would come when he fought Anthony Pettis at WEC 53, the final event the WEC would ever run. For five straight rounds, both men put on a performance that led me to call their fight one of the best of all time. Henderson would end up losing a close fight, with Pettis finally tipping both the scales and the judges in his favor after hitting one of the most dramatic strikes of all time: a wall-walk headkick.
If you couldn’t already tell by my glowing praise, I’ve got high hopes for Ben Henderson in the UFC. I can admit that about a quarter of that reaction comes from the WEC super-fan in me, but the other three-fourths are based solely on Henderson’s brilliant performances inside the blue cage. Mark Bocek will be a tough test for him, and I have no doubt that it will be an all-out war. But I have a lot of faith in Ben Henderson, and I can’t wait to see him make his UFC debut.
And that’s that, fans and friends! Day two of “UFC 129 Complete Collection” is now over and done with. I hope you’ve enjoyed the series so far, and please stay tuned for the third and final day of this series, which takes place tomorrow and will feature big match-ups like Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick, Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida, and the main event, Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields.
And what about you, fans and friends? Any thoughts on this fight?