UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson | The Face-Off

Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson (UFC)

Finley-Lawson square off over Edgar-Henderson

In January, HeavyMMA writers Duane Finley and Nate Lawson froze their tails off at home in Indiana while Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes went to war in Brazil. And this time around, Indianapolis and West Lafayette aren’t quite Tokyo, are they?

Finley and Lawson once again go head to head, this time to debate the main event of UFC 144 at the UFC’s return to Japan. The lightweight title is on the line between champion Frankie Edgar and top contender Ben Henderson.

The Case for Henderson (Lawson 2-3)

When Benson Henderson challenges Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 144 in Japan, he will attempt to do something that only one man has done before – earn a victory over the UFC lightweight champion.

But that is not the only thing on the line for Henderson on Saturday night, as he certainly still is upset at the way his WEC career ended when he was defeated by Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision, losing his WEC lightweight title. Now, over a year later, Henderson has a chance to erase that memory, not through revenge against Pettis, but by accomplishing something even greater. Wouldn’t that be enough to motivate anyone, let alone Benson Henderson, who has never had trouble getting pumped for a fight?

Motivation alone will never win anyone the gold, especially at the elite level. But Henderson, who may be the WEC fighter who best acclimated to the UFC, has improved drastically over the past year, allowing him to earn big wins over the likes of Clay Guida and Jim Miller.

He brings a tremendous wrestling base with him when he enters the cage, which will surely be enough to counter any wrestling Edgar plans to utilize. And his striking game, though still not as advanced as Edgar’s, is good enough to at least set up clinches and takedown attempts. Once the fight moves to the floor, Henderson will be able to control the action just like he has in his past few contests. While Edgar does have very good wrestling and solid jiu-jitsu, this is Ben Henderson we’re talking about. He is the man that can’t be submitted – the man whose will can never be broken.

It might not be pretty and it might not earn Fight of the Night honors, but Henderson has the tools to dictate this fight and score points. With a unanimous decision win, Henderson will welcome us to a new era. Let’s just hope it isn’t as short-lived as Lyoto Machida’s.

The Case for Edgar (Finley 3-2 & current title holder)

It is often said we don’t realize we miss something until it’s gone. This was precisely the case with my HeavyMMA Face-Off title. After jumping off to a strong start, I sampled the bitter taste of defeat at the hands of Nate “Pop Tart” Lawson. Now with the strap safely back where it belongs, it’s time to get down to defending what is rightfully mine.

When it comes to Frankie Edgar, I’m going to be completely honest. I believe he is a well-rounded and scrappy fighter who would give fits to anyone he would face inside the Octagon. But with that being said, over the course of his past four fights there hasn’t been one where I’ve picked him to win. I thought BJ Penn would outstrike him just as much as I predicted Gray Maynard to overpower him. In all cases, the Toms River, N.J., native has proven me wrong. And on the back of such epic performances, he has made a believer out of me.

Where I once thought him to be a well-rounded and scrappy fighter, I now understand he is an unbreakable chunk of iron with the heart of a lion. Those intangibles alone should be enough to get him past Henderson, but I actually see other factors deciding this fight. While Henderson will be the bigger and undoubtedly stronger fighter in this matchup, he first has to be able to get his hands on Edgar – which has proven to be an extremely difficult task. Edgar’s boxing is top notch, and he uses a foundation built on elusive footwork and side-to-side movement. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of power behind Edgar’s punches because of said movement, but as he proved in the last fight with Maynard, if Frankie sits down on a shot, it is enough to put an opponent’s lights out.

Nearly as much as Henderson is known for getting out of bad positions, he also has a penchant for getting into rapid-fire exchanges on the feet. Should Henderson throw caution to the wind against Edgar the way he did against Guida and Pettis, he will come out on the business end of the throwdown. Cardio will not be a factor for either fighter because both have excellent gas tanks, but as Henderson attempts to cut the cage down, Edgar’s ability to get in and out while scoring will claim the early rounds of the fight.

When it is all said and done, I see this one going to the judges’ cards, where I have Edgar winning a unanimous decision and making another successful defense of his belt. Frankie is just now reaching a point where the MMA community is starting to give him the respect he deserves and I don’t believe it’s something he wants to let go of. Defeating Benson Henderson will be no easy task, but if there is any fighter in recent history who has repeatedly taken the path of greatest resistance it’s Frankie Edgar.

“The Answer” by decision. He defends, and I defend once again. That’s how I see it, and that’s how it’s going down.

 


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