Live on Pay-Per-View: Lightweight Championship: Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar (14-1-1) vs. Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson (15-2)
While both fighters have faced (arguably) equally tough opponents, Edgar has faced top contenders in one of the most crowded weight classes in the UFC. Edgar has defended his belt only three times in two years, albeit against two extremely tough opponents (B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard). Henderson worked to defend his belt three times in a year, losing his last title defense in a unanimous decision to Anthony Pettis. Henderson submitted nearly every opponent until he joined the UFC in April of last year; he has since convincingly won all three matches by unanimous decision. Edgar has only faced one opponent (Gray Maynard, in two separate fights) in the last year and a half, one of those was a draw and the other was his first KO since 2007.
Edgar is a balanced stand up fighter that is quick, powerful, and agile enough to take opponents to the ground and consistently dominate them. A hair slower, Henderson is the bigger fighter with a longer reach that he uses to subdue and submit his opponents in convincing fashion. Henderson has the edge with his BJJ brown belt, but being a former freestyle wrestling All-American, Edgar has superior wrestling skills. Edgar has the better standup game with his hit n’ move style and ability to throw punches in bunches, while Henderson has gotten much better with his standup since joining the UFC. And now… It’s time!
Round 1: They touch gloves in the middle of the octagon and immediately begin measuring their distance. They exchange a couple leg kicks and Edgar catches one in mid air; Henderson hops on one leg then jumps to throw an amazing high kick with it. It missed, but he escaped. They continue with low kicks and intermittent jabs. Edgar catches another of Henderson’s kicks in mid air and backs away. Henderson moves forward with a superman punch and follows with a low kick that almost hits Edgar’s groin. The ref gives Edgar a moment. They square back up and Henderson continues to throw kicks that Edgar catches — 5 so far. Nothing comes of it. They both throw jabs and low kicks that have no real damage. Edgar takes Henderson down for a brief moment, as Henderson works a standing chemora to escape. They square up and trade again. Edgar tries a spinning back kick that Henderson catches this time. One more kick from Henderson that’s caught by Edgar, and the horn blows. A fairly even round, but the brief takedown may give it to Edgar. 10-9 Edgar.
Round 2: Henderson comes out with higher energy, throwing swift jabs that Edgar effectively ducks. Henderson continues to get his leg caught every time he kicks — and has no fear once it’s in Edgar’s grasp. Henderson is comfortable fighting at distance with one leg, and Edgar has yet to figure out how to take advantage. Henderson continues throwing the kicks. Edgar misses a spinning backfist as Henderson moves forward. Edgar goes for a takedown and scrambles to Henderson’s back. Henderson uses the standing kimura to escape again. Edgar comes in strong with a close-in superman punch and Henderson returns the favor. They dance for a moment, then Edgar changes levels and takes Henderson down. Edgar looks for hammer fists as Henderson works for a triangle. Edgar stands up, looming over Henderson, and Henderson delivers a HUGE upkick that busts Edgar’s nose wide open. Edgar folds, and Henderson quickly looks to capitalize with a guillotine, but the horn blows and save Edgar. 10-9 Henderson.
Round 3: Edgar’s nose is pouring blood; it my be broken. The pattern of low kicks and swift jabs continues. Edgar looks for a single leg takedown and Henderson stops it cold. Edgar releases and goes for a deep double leg takedown, but Henderson’s balance is impressive. They square back up and trade jabs and kicks. They throw high kicks at the same time and Henderson wins the exchange; he takes Edgar down. It looks like Edgar’s left eye is swelling shut. They continue boxing. Edgar catches another Henderson kick and tries to throw a high kick with Henderson’s leg still in his hand. Edgar scrambles for a takedown attempt, to no avail. Edgar takes Henderson down in the last :05 of the round and the horn blows. Henderson was more aggressive this round, but Edgar scored the final takedown. Another close call. 10-9 Henderson.
Round 4: Henderson is stalking Edgar around the octagon. Henderson aims his jabs at Edgar’s left eye. Edgar’s left eye is swollen shut. As Henderson throws the body kicks, Edgar can’t catch his kicks any more — he can’t see them. Henderson throws a kick that connects with Edgar’s groin, and Edgar takes a few moments to recover. Edgar must be feeling the pressure, because he’s getting more active with creatively placed kicks and punches. Edgar ducks a hook and sinks in a deep double leg takedown. Henderson sinks in a deep guillotine as he goes down, but he can’t hold it. Henderson scrambles and escapes again. Edgar’s energy burst has gone. Henderson is changing up his stance and connects with a big knee to the body and a solid kick. Edgar tries to take Henderson down, but fails as Henderson connects with a solid body kick. Henderson appears to have more in the tank and gaining confidence. Edgar’s energy burst may have won the round. 10-9 Edgar.
Round 5: Henderson is hopping around full of energy and goading the crowd. Edgar feels the pressure to win the round. Edgar comes in close and Henderson counters with a solid left that backs him off. Edgar’s face is hamburger. Edgar finally connects with a straight left, but Henderson has no reaction. Edgar connects with a right and pushes Henderson to the cage and takes his back. Henderson escapes again. 2:30 left in this final round and Henderson connects with a big right hand that Edgar shakes off. Edgar’s dancing around looking for an opening. Edgar connects with a right hand and Henderson slips to the canvas. Edgar quickly scrambles to take Henderson’s back but Henderson’s too quick. :30 left and Henderson is hopping around, tempting Edgar to go for the takedown. :10 left and Henderson connects with a leaping knee. Edgar is stunned and Henderson towers over him ready to rain down a fury of blows. The horn blows and it’s over. Edgar was winning the round until that final burst from Henderson. A very close round. 10-9 Henderson.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new UFC Lightweight Champion!
Winner: Henderson (Unanimous Decision: 49-46, 48-47, 49-46)