On Saturday night, Japanese fans were given an excellent taste of what mixed martial arts has evolved into. There were finishes of all sorts, improbable comebacks and a five-round war which is sure to be a candidate for Fight of the Year. The title fight between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson is one of the best lightweight title fights in history, with the close decision being awarded to Bendo.
There is a slight controversy concerning the decision, as there are a few fans who believe that Edgar should have been given the nod, and a rematch is not out of the question. However, the right man won on Saturday night, and "Smooth" Henderson is going to keep wearing that belt for an extremely long time.
Henderson has virtually no weaknesses to exploit. He is so extremely versatile, with a black belt in Taekwondo, powerful wrestling, some crushing submissions and an endless gas tank. He is extremely athletic, and is practically invincible when it comes to submission attempts, as evidenced in his fights with Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller.
He can be knocked down, as has been seen in his fights with Shane Roller and Anthony Pettis, but he has never suffered a (T)KO loss in his career. He has lost only once in his last 15 fights, in his WEC title fight against Anthony Pettis by a close decision. The man has been on a mission in the UFC, going 4-0 since the WEC merger, and he has never looked close to being in trouble in any of those fights.
Now, he has some tough tests ahead of him. The lightweight division is probably the deepest division in the UFC, and he has the likes of Pettis, Edgar, Maynard, Diaz and many others in his quest to clear out the division. However, he is almost guaranteed to have five rounds against all of them, as he has the remarkable ability to avoid being stopped by an opponent. He is only 28 years old, and is just entering the prime of his career. With what he has done already, it is scary to imagine how good he can get in the next couple of years.
Anything can happen in the world of mixed martial arts; that is the beauty of the sport. However, Henderson is going to give every one of his opponents hell, and is the toughest test for anyone in the division. Beware, pound-for-pound lists, because Bendo is making his case to be the best fighter in the world. The title is only the first step.