Frankie Edgar will put his UFC lightweight title on the line this Saturday when he faces Benson Henderson in the main event of UFC 144.¬† The fight will mark the first time that Edgar has faced an opponent other than BJ Penn or Gray Maynard since he defeated Matt Veach on December 5, 2009.
This one calls for a pretty deep dig to come up with a prediction.
If you‚Äôve witnessed the last four fights of Henderson‚Äôs career you have seen a fighter that sets a relentless pace throughout. All four of those fights have gone the distance, including the five round WEC title bout against Anthony Pettis. In fact, Henderson has participated in two five round title fights in his past, losing to Pettis and defeating Donald Cerrone.
Edgar is no slouch in the cardio department either with his average fight time tops in UFC history at 16:28 seconds. Going the distance in three consecutive UFC title fights will increase one‚Äôs average fight time.
Next, we‚Äôll take a look at wrestling. Both fighters have a wrestling base, but Edgar‚Äôs background is stronger in this particular discipline and the fact that he remains active in wrestling at a high level with the Rutgers squad gives him the nod on this one.
Henderson is by no means a bad wrestler, in fact his takedown defense is slightly better than that of Edgars, but overall Edgar is the stronger of the two.
One place Henderson has a distinct advantage is in the size department. Edgar comes in at 5‚Äô 6‚ÄĚ, while Henderson comes in at 5‚Äô 9‚ÄĚ.¬† Edgar fights very close to his walking around weight, while Henderson cuts a fair amount to hit the 155-pound limit.¬† While the weight cutting can deplete stamina and strength, it has not been a factor for Henderson in the past.
The one thing that may come into play here is the weight cut on foreign soil, something that has caused other fighters a problem in the past. It will be interesting to see how Henderson fares during his cut and rehydration.
Next up is the submission game. Henderson is 15-2 in his MMA career with eight of those wins coming via submission. In addition he has some of the slickest submission defense in the UFC.
Edgar is also a brown belt in BJJ, having three submissions to his name, two of which came in his second and third professional bouts.
I‚Äôm not expecting a grappling battle in this one, but if it does come to that, Henderson gets the nod.
As far as striking is concerned, Edgar is a wrestler first and as such his striking game is not nearly as diverse as that of his opponent, Henderson. Henderson can come at you from all angles with a variety of strikes.¬† Edgar‚Äôs strikes are functional, used to set up his wrestling skills, while Henderson‚Äôs attack is much more well rounded, giving him the advantage in this department.
On paper it would be fairly easy to pick Henderson to win this one, but my brain keeps screaming, ‚Äúdon‚Äôt bet against Frankie Edgar!‚ÄĚ Edgar is a trooper, a battler, a blue-collar guy, no glamour or glitz, just pure guts and for that reason I see Edgar getting his hand raised at the end of a very close five round battle.
Tags: Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, mma, UFC