UFC 144 will indeed be a dynamic event and the first time the UFC has ventured into Japan since December of 2000. The Lightweight Title fight main event will showcase the challenger, Benson Henderson, squaring off with the current defending champion, Frankie Edgar, in what is sure to be a crowd pleasing affair.
Benson "Smooth" Henderson has been on an absolute tear since joining the UFC ranks after dropping his WEC Lightweight championship by decision to Anthony Pettis in the WEC's final event. Henderson has since defeated Mark Bocek and Jim Miller, and earned his lightweight title fight by edging out Clay Guida in a fight of the year candidate.
Henderson brings to the table a wealth of mixed martial arts knowledge. He is well-versed in wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and taekwondo. Most amazing though is Henderson's ability to live up to his nickname—he is very smooth in his movements and doesn't ever seem to find himself in bad positions.
Henderson can utilize a 3" height advantage, a 2" reach advantage, and an overall size advantage to dethrone the current champ. Henderson also has tree trunks for legs that will make it very difficult for Frankie Edgar to complete takedowns against him, as was the case with Henderson's fight with Clay Guida.
Frankie "The Answer" Edgar though has been an absolute upset machine in the UFC—though now its hard to say he is upsetting anyone. Edgar has earned a spot on the top pound-for-pound fighter list by fighting with the larger weight-class at Lightweight instead of dropping down.
Edgar has used very solid boxing and a never ending quickness to wear down and punish his opponents. Not only has he dished it out but has proven he has a pretty decent chin and a heart that allows him to come back from the brink of defeat.
So what is the answer for Benson Henderson in defeating Frankie Edgar?
Henderson isn't the same kind of fighter that Edgar is used to. No disrespect to Edgar, but he has mostly fought one dimensional opponents to this point.
Furthermore, most have been plain type wrestlers, including Gray Maynard, Sean Sherk, and Matt Veach. They've combined for 14 knockouts, which seems impressive until you realize that only two occurred in the UFC. BJ Penn, a opponent that wasn't one-dimensional, was at the end of his career and couldn't match Edgar's pace or endurance.
This is the problem that Henderson presents for Edgar. Not only can Henderson match Edgar's pace and endurance, he's also just as quick and stronger than the champion himself is.
Henderson has excellent wrestling and sprawling techniques which he demonstrated against Clay Guida. Also on display against Guida was his scrambling ability which more often than not allowed Henderson to gain the better position.
Add to the fact that Benson isn't just a plain wrestler or one-dimensional fighter and that spells disaster for Edgar. Benson is adept at striking and he will use all types of stand-up attacks including kicks, knees, punches, and spinning attacks, all while using fantastic movement to counter punches.
This leaves Frankie Edgar searching for an answer. Edgar will have problems striking with Henderson. Edgar will have problems taking down Henderson. Edgar will have problems out-working Henderson. How will Frankie Edgar stop Henderson's momentum? He might not have an answer.
Though the fight will no doubt be action packed, the advantages that Henderson owns over Edgar leads me to believe that Benson Henderson will walk away from the UFC 144 main event as the new UFC Lightweight Champion.
Additionally, I fully expect this to the first time in Frankie Edgar's career that he is finished.