UFC 144 Results: Benson Henderson Proves the WEC Was Legit

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIFebruary 26, 2012

picture courtesy of Getty images
picture courtesy of Getty images

Most casual fans don't associate top talent in MMA with fighters who exist outside the UFC, but at UFC 144, Benson Henderson proved that to be wrong.

Henderson is a former WEC champion who has competed a majority of his career outside of the Octagon, fighting in the smaller sister of Zuffa before it was absorbed into the UFC.

Hardcore fans enjoyed WEC and the skilled fighters who lined its ranks, but most casual fans didn't even know of its existence.

Those who did had simple reaction to lightweights who fought there instead of the UFC.

They thought they weren't good enough.

It is a sentiment that was echoed by fellow lightweight fighter Jim Miller in an interview with Ariel Helwani. In the interview, Miller mentioned that the WEC fighters did well in the company because "they couldn't hack it in the UFC".

Ironically, Henderson beat him by unanimous decision on a UFC card on Versus (now NBC Sports Network) back in 2011.

At UFC 144, Henderson once again proved Miller and all the other critics wrong by gutting a tough decision against Edgar and beating the lightweight champion in speed and endurance. He showed that the WEC fighters were capable of setting a pace that few could follow.

Henderson winning on Saturday proved that the best of the WEC could beat the best in the UFC on any given day. That isn't to say that Edgar couldn't win a rematch, just that he didn't win tonight.

For WEC fans, it had to be a gratifying moment, watching someone who had made a fraction of the money of his UFC counterparts step up to the top level and win.

Seeing someone who had been glossed over by fans who only appreciated UFC and not MMA was akin to watching an old friend succeed. It was rewarding to watch and felt like a milestone in a journey that started back in 2009.

It was worth the wait.