Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar I at UFC 144 was a classic, for sure. With the rematch just hours away, set to headline UFC 150, it is important to ponder some of the important points from their first fight.
For those who do not remember, the bout ended in a unanimous decisions for Ben Henderson.
Two of the judges scored the fight 49-46, the other 48-47. Compustrike numbers state that Henderson landed 100 total strikes (87 significant, 59 to the head) to 81 (68 significant, 40 to the head) for Edgar.
The fight seemingly started very favorably for Edgar, who repeatedly caught Henderson's frequent leg kicks and scored a pair of takedowns. Still, even with that strong round, Edgar ended up having his eye start swelling shut.
Past that, however, Henderson won the statistical portion of the bout, out-landing Edgar in every round and doing remarkably more damage, shown best at the end by Edgar's bruised, bloody and broken face. While Edgar fans will be quick to point out how Edgar repeatedly landed takedowns on Henderson, the latter got the fight back to where he wanted it by simply standing up.
Henderson, for the most part, dictated the pace and place of the fight and got the better out of the majority of exchanges.
Neither fighter really got especially close to knocking the other out, save for a devastating upkick by Henderson. This is not surprising, given how Edgar endured two harsh beatings from Gray Maynard while Ben Henderson survived through Anthony Pettis' “Showtime Kick” which, really, would have decapitated most fighters.
There were only two times where Edgar got into superior position with his wrestling. The first was in the second round, which ended abruptly when Henderson shattered Edgar's nose with the aforementioned upkick. The second was in the fourth round, though that was set up by Edgar almost being submitted by a deep arm-in guillotine choke.
Even though Edgar is an excellent fighter, after watching the fight four times in the last two days (it has been on Fuel TV a lot lately), Ben Henderson won convincingly.
Both fighters, however, have plenty of room for improvement.
Though Henderson out-struck Edgar, he did not completely dominate the stand-up portion of the bout. With a height and weight advantage, he should be able to fight bigger than Edgar. He could also brush up on his takedown defense to keep his win secure in the eyes of the judges.
Edgar, obviously, has more to improve upon, primarily in terms of getting back to his NCAA Division I All-American wrestling skills. Edgar landed takedowns, but did very little with them. Though Edgar is at a size disadvantage, keep in mind what Rashad Evans did to Phil Davis.
Edgar simply lacks knockout power, with just two KO victories in his UFC career. Henderson, meanwhile, owns one of the strongest chins in MMA and Edgar is simply not going to land five consecutive haymakers like he did to knock out Gray Maynard.
Edgar has the tools to win. What he needs to do is use his slippery boxing to bait Henderson into whiffing strikes, then take him down. He needs to brush up his wrestling in order to keep him there because, otherwise, Henderson is likely to out-land, out-work and out-muscle Edgar all over again.
Once again, Henderson and Edgar fight tonight at UFC 150. Keep an eye out for this and watch to see who wins in one of the most exciting main events in a long while.