Ever since Frankie Edgar won the lightweight title against the great BJ Penn at UFC 112, things have not been easy for him.
He fought two fights, back to back against BJ Penn, then two more against Gray Maynard, and now he’s lost his second straight bout against Benson Henderson.
During his time as champion, Edgar faced some daunting challenges (especially two brutal first-round beatings at the hands of Gray Maynard) and managed to hold on to the belt thanks to his grit, determination, heart and in-and-out style of striking mixed with his explosive takedown ability.
Still, even with all of those attributes and skills, Edgar lost his second straight title fight to Benson Henderson, leaving the New Jersey great and his camp to ponder what went wrong as they head for home, sans title strap.
Perhaps the question isn’t what went wrong for Edgar, but what went right for Henderson.
Both fights were close and could have gone either way; it’s not like Edgar got blown out of the water either time. If you compiled both fights and watched them as one 10-round affair, you’d still be left with a hard decision as to who won most of the rounds, not to mention the whole thing.
But at the end of the night, Benson Henderson is still the UFC lightweight champion, and he will next defend his belt against Nate Diaz.
So, what really went right for Henderson that he got the decision yet again?
Well, for starters, he didn’t let Edgar beat him to the punch (or kick) every time. In all the ways that count, Henderson was just as offensive as Edgar: both men lashed out at each other in equal measure with strikes.
But the kicks of Henderson were an ongoing theme from the first round, and they landed more often than not.
Granted, Edgar landed the biggest punch when he put Henderson down in the second round. It was a beautiful shot that landed flush and won the round for Edgar, but he wasn’t able to finish Henderson as he did Maynard in their rubber match.
Henderson survived and frame after frame landed hard kicks to Edgar’s legs and body while scoring occasional knees and punches to the head—one of which knocked out Edgar’s mouthpiece.
For every 10 kicks that Henderson launched, he seemed to land six to seven of them flush—usually on the legs of Edgar, but also to the body—and that kind of consistency is something judges remember.
Of course, fights like this are always hard to judge, given that Edgar seemed to give as good as he got. But time and again, when it looked like Edgar was starting to get the upper hand, Henderson would start chopping away with those kicks.
At the end of the night, it seemed to be a tale of reach; Henderson’s longer legs allowed him to connect first and from greater distance.
As cliché as it sounds, at UFC 150, Henderson just seemed to have a leg up on Edgar, and according to the judges, that was all that Henderson needed.