UFC 144 Predictions: Keys to Victory for Frankie Edgar

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIFebruary 25, 2012

UFC 144 Predictions: Keys to Victory for Frankie Edgar

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    Frankie Edgar is going to be the underdog when he faces Benson Henderson tonight at UFC 144.

    It is a place he knows all too well.

    Ever since Edgar won the title, fans and journalists alike have been expecting the clock to strike midnight and for his reign to end at any moment.

    It hasn't helped that his last two bouts with Gray Maynard were both close affairs that Edgar had to find a way to battle back from the brink of defeat.

    If he wants to prove critics wrong, Edgar is going to have to not only beat Henderson, but do it without getting any close scares.

Don't Try to Outstrike Henderson

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    While Edgar has decent boxing ability, he shouldn't aim to land a knockout punch against Henderson in this bout. Edgar is the shorter fighter, and while his boxing is good, it can't beat foe's kicks.

    Henderson is a black belt in Taekwondo, and even though the martial art isn't conducive to cage fighting when adapted, it can be a great asset. He has shown that he knows how to mix it up, and while he hasn't knocked out a majority of his opponents, his standup has stopped them in their tracks long enough for him to get the submission or decision.

    If Edgar tries to knock him out like he did Maynard, he may end up on the receiving end of a KO instead of doling it out.

Use His Wrestling

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    Edgar is a great wrestler. In fact, it was the first form of martial arts he practiced.

    While Henderson also has a history in wrestling, it isn't as entrenched as Edgar's.

    While the champ comes up short in stature and in the striking department, his lack of long limbs won't matter when on the mat.

    Edgar may have a hard time keeping Henderson under control, but it is preferable to getting picked apart.

Don't Start Slow

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    Edgar has almost been knocked out in his last two fights, and it was because he came out of the gate at a measured pace, trying to gauge his opponent.

    When he fought Maynard, he was almost knocked out, but survived because of his opponent's lack of cardio and hesitancy to burn himself out while going for the finish.

    He won't run into the same limitations and won't be afraid to try and finish Edgar quickly. Even if he fails, Henderson will have plenty of energy left in the tank to go the next four rounds and could score an 10-8 round if he is dominant enough.

    That could change the fight outcome for Edgar. If he wants to stave that off, he will need to come out strong instead of hesitantly measuring his opponent.

Be Wary of Henderson's Submission Skills

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    While Edgar has the better wrestling chops, that doesn't make the ground a safe haven.

    Both Edgar and Henderson have studied Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but Henderson has walked away with more submission victories. He is flexible in a way most fighters aren't and keeps calm while in difficult positions.

    If Edgar relaxes for a moment, then he could get snagged in a tough submission and end up tapping out.

    He has to make sure that while the fight is on the ground that he is on top and actively controlling the match every second, or he could end up losing it and with it his championship.

    If he pours the pressure on Henderson, he probably won't finish his opponent, but he could finish the fight with his hand raised.