Frankie Edgar has accomplished a great deal in the lightweight division, especially considering that the division looks to be too big for a man his size.
For the longest time, Edgar has been fighting and beating the best the lightweight division has to offer, grabbing the title and defending it three times along the way, and all the while he could have been contending as the bigger man in a lower weight class.
Up until his fights with Benson Henderson, Edgar could say he was fighting at lightweight because his size made him the faster, more mobile fighter, and for sure his style of fighting is built upon those very things.
He uses an in-and-out style of striking that takes advantage of his speed and angles, and he’s just at about the right height for the division to make ducking under strikes and getting in deep on those doubles and singles a matter of timing alone.
But Benson Henderson changed all of that for some very simple reasons.
For the first time in a long while, Edgar found himself fighting someone with the same kind of frantic, high-energy style. Henderson was every bit as active as Edgar, both offensively and defensively, and they both covered a great deal of square footage in the cage last night.
Mobility has always been an advantage for Edgar, but Henderson was just as fleet of foot, or at least just as much as he needed to be to utilize one of his greatest weapons: his kicks.
In facing Henderson, the main thing that went wrong for Edgar was as timelessly profound as it was innocent: he lost the clash of styles.
To be brutally honest, I think Edgar could continue to fight with a high degree of success in the lightweight division.
He would have a mobility and style advantage against fighters like Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone and others, and if Jose Aldo moves up to lightweight, I see Edgar as being one of the only men who could give him a true contest.
But against Henderson, he was fighting a man with a longer reach who was his equal in speed and output.
Edgar has proven through his career that he’s got all the tools to overcome almost any perceived disadvantage, but the one thing he cannot do is make his limbs any longer than they already are.
When two swordsmen of equal skill and speed meet up, it’s usually the man with the longer blade who wins, and that’s what we saw at UFC 150. Yes, Edgar had success getting inside and doing damage, but he just didn’t have enough.
Perhaps he should head south of the lightweight border and start mixing it up with men of his height and reach. Given how well he’s done against men larger than himself, it’s hard to imagine anyone (save perhaps Jose Aldo) defeating him at 145.