This fight for the lightweight crown has the potential to be one of the greatest title fights in UFC history. For the last 22 months, Frankie Edgar has held the UFC lightweight championship. During that entire time, there have been a lot of questions surrounding his title reign. The first fight with BJ Penn was a controversial decision that led to a lot of people questioning Edgar. Edgar proved them all wrong with the rematch, where he soundly defeated Penn to prove he was the number one lightweight in the UFC. He then fought Gray Maynard, a man who had beat him in 2008. On New Years Day, Edgar and Maynard met a second time, and Edgar was close to being finished in the first frame. Edgar rebounded back miraculously and fought to the end for a classic 25 minute fight. It was ruled a draw, so to end all debate, they fought a third time on October 8th. Edgar suffered another huge beating in the first frame but came back to knock out Maynard in the fourth round of their final fight. After almost two years of fighting Penn and Maynard, Edgar will now face off against the former WEC lightweight kingpin.
A couple of years ago, people were saying that Benson Henderson wasn’t an elite lightweight. I even heard some people saying that he wasn’t in the caliber of Cole Miller, who is a fun fighter that I like, but that was severely underplaying his skills. Henderson made his WEC debut against great striker Anthony Njokuani, and beat him via submission in that fight. He then fought Shane Roller, who at one point rocked Henderson with a hard punch. Henderson came back and finished him off via TKO. His third fight was against his greatest rival, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. They fought in San Antonio for the interim WEC lightweight title and produced an absolute classic. Both guys made each other stars to the hardcore audience after that fight. Henderson landed awesome ground and pound, but Cerrone was able to lock in incredible submissions on Henderson. It was a close and hotly debated fight, but the judges gave it to Henderson. It seemed that even Reed Harris was upset about that in the post-fight when hearing Joe Martinez make the announcement. Henderson went on to face the actual WEC champion, Jamie Varner, to unify the titles. The first two rounds were a bit close, Varner showed some good takedown defense, but Henderson got an awesome guillotine choke to tap Varner out. He then rematched Cerrone, to end the debate about their decision, and he tapped Cerrone out with another awesome guillotine choke. He then suffered his first ever loss at lightweight (he has another loss at 160 lbs catchweight) when he lost to Anthony Pettis in a close title fight, which happened to be a classic and the final WEC fight ever.
He would move to the UFC, he fought Mark Bocek and destroyed Bocek with some awesome knees and elbows. He then did that to Jim Miller in one of the greatest one sided asskickings in UFC history. Miller still threatened with submissions, but Henderson’s strikes were nasty. Finally, he fought Clay Guida in a title eliminator and had another great fight. Henderson was caught in submission attempts in all of his UFC fights but he would find a way out to pound his opponents out and win via decision in all three of his UFC bouts.
Edgar doesn’t have the submission chops of guys like Bocek, Miller and Cerrone, so the least likely thing we’re going to see is Edgar tapping out Henderson. Edgar is a much better boxer than Henderson, but Henderson does have some strong hard kicks. If Henderson catches Edgar against the fence, Henderson has awesome knees and elbows he can use to brutalize Edgar. Henderson’s taken what Couture used to do (most memorably against Vitor Belfort at UFC 49) to a whole new and more exciting level. On the ground, it should be in Henderson’s favor. I have no idea who I would favor in this fight, it could end up being a very close competitive fight for 25 minutes. Very excited about this fight, and very happy to see Benson Henderson prove all his doubters wrong and fight for the UFC title.