By Elias Cepeda
The rematch contained slightly less constant action than the first engagement but Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar put on another technical, evenly-matched lightweight title fight Saturday night in the main event of UFC 150. Henderson also walked away with another decision win over the man he beat last February to win the championship belt.
Perusing twitter and the forums last night and today, to say nothing of Edgar’s complaints after the split decision was announced for Henderson, it appears that many fans and fighters believed that “The Answer” should have gotten the nod from the judges. This writer scored it for Henderson but only someone with an agenda could deny that it was a close, hard to score fight.
Henderson opened up quickly in the first round, landing quick kicks to Edgar’s lead calf, bruising and tripping him up. Edgar scored a take down in the stanza but got caught in a good guillotine choke attempt by Henderson, before escaping.
Henderson charged forward and age a right hand right to the chin from Edgar, dropping to the mat. From there, Edgar controlled Henderson on the ground for most of the rest of the round with a front head lock. Edgar worked to get his own choke in or move to the back but Henderson defended well and survived the round.
Rounds three and four were close in terms of strikes landed, as was round five. In the last round Henderson clearly closed most aggressively and finishing more emphatically with strikes.
When the decision was announced for Henderson, Edgar stormed away. He and his team acted like he was robbed.
He was not. But the intensity of feeling is quite understandable given how hard fighters work at this level in the sport and how well Edgar fought and how close the bout was.
Neither man would’ve been crazy to have heard the final horn and believed that he had won. Someone had to be disappointed. Fans of world-class fighters fighting technically were not.
Henderson will face Nate Diaz next. The future for Edgar is unclear.
It is a cruel world for number one contenders that have failed multiple times to beat the person who is now the champion. Sure, he clearly pushes Henderson to the limit and fights him as closely as anyone can, but Edgar will not just get an endless series of rematch opportunities.
Will Edgar start climbing the ladder again at lightweight or will the undersized fighter finally drop down to featherweight? If he chooses do go down to 145 pounds, UFC President Dana White says that he will not get an automatic title shot. He likely wouldn’t have to win more than a single fight at that weight before getting the chance to challenge for the belt, however.
“I think Frankie would have to fight somebody at [featherweight before challenging for the title there],” White said at the UFC 150 post-event press conference. “We’ve got that thing backed up, we’ve got all these [divisions] backed up for titles right now. That one’s backed up. And if I know Frankie like I do, I’m sure he’s gonna want to go down there and fight [for the title] right way.
“I’ll talk to him later and see what he wants to do.”
It has been asked many times before but what do you want to see Edgar do, taters? Should Edgar go to featherweight or come back for what he believes is his at lightweight?
Cerrone went and got some more fans
Guillard landed a nasty left hook that hurt Cerrone early on, following up with knees to the body and head. Cerrone managed to hang on, maintain his composure and, when he hit a glancing kick to the head of Guillard, put his buddy on queer street.
Cerrone did not hesitate at all to follow up on his wobbled friend with a right hand that dropped and put Guillard out. The fight didn’t last much longer than a minute but it won Fight of The Night honors. We don’t disagree.
Cerrone also took home a separate bonus check for KO of the night. Wonder how much of that $120,000 bonus cash he can fit in that stylish cowboy hat of his.
Mr. Excitement wins again
Jake Shields won another technical grappling-heavy fight by decision last night where he dominated the action, never stopped moving or working to improve position and…most fans probably didn’t love watching it. That’s Shields’ curse – he’s damned good at grappling but fans who don’t train can’t appreciate what he’s doing while he’s doing it.
For his part, Ed Herman was a live dog in the submission wrestling-like contest – never letting Shields stay in a dominant position for very long. Herman probably should have focused on staying out of grappling range with Shields and tried to box him up on the feet, but he was the one who initiated much of the grappling action through the first two rounds.
When he did get Shields down, he couldn’t keep him there. When Shields got Herman down, he kept him there.
In the third round Herman had a sense of urgency and swung hard on the feet but that only opened him up to getting taken down again by Shields. Shields is back at middleweight and looked to have plenty of strength in the clinch and gas in the tank.
Perhaps he’ll climb further here than at welterweight. But he’ll always have trouble against elite fighters as long as he can’t set up his take down attempts well with strikes.
Middleweight Yushin Okami had to wait years longer than he should have to earn a shot at champion Anderson Silva but as soon as he did, he hit a two-fight losing streak. Last night he got his first win since 2010 by finishing Buddy Roberts in the second round via TKO.
We’ll see if Yushin has another run for the title in him. He rarely looks bad and opponents rarely look good against him.
Dennis Bermudez earned Submission of The Night honors from the under card with a standing guillotine finish of Tommy Hayden. Slick. $60,000-worth of slick.