Frankie “The Answer” Edgar has given his fair share of rematches over the past couple of years. This time he gets his own shot at redemption when he takes on Benson “Smooth” Henderson at UFC 150 in Denver, Colorado.
In spite of Dana White’s persistent calls for Edgar to drop down and face José Aldo at 145 pounds, the New Jersey native was reluctant to give up on his hopes of regaining the lightweight crown, particularly after relinquishing it in such a close contest.
The bout between Edgar and Henderson at UFC 144 in Japan was a demonstration of mixed martial arts at its very peak, as we all anticipated that it would be. As a result, it came as no surprise when the rematch was announced.
Although the contest was close, the consensus seems to be that Henderson did enough to earn the decision. With that in mind, what can Edgar do to engineer a different outcome at UFC 150?
To the surprise of many, “The Answer” dominated most of the grappling exchanges in the first encounter. Despite being considerably smaller than his opponent, Edgar was able to routinely score takedowns and maintain top position.
Therefore, it may be in Frankie’s best interest to avoid protracted striking exchanges. He lacks the power to hurt Henderson, and will lose any race to accumulate damage. And as was the case against Gray Maynard, he also runs the risk of being overwhelmed by the power of a naturally larger foe.
Edgar should instead focus on his wrestling, given the success he achieved with it in the first fight. Rather than staying on the outside and boxing, Frankie should use his striking to set up takedowns. He is a student of Ricardo Almeida and Renzo Gracie, so one would expect him to be extremely comfortable on the ground—particularly in top position.
There is little doubt that Benson Henderson will be favoured in this fight, but history suggests it would be pure folly to write off Frankie Edgar. He has confounded the odds makers and the critics far too often.
Henderson would be wise to approach this bout with some degree of caution. He cannot expect to simply use his size to dominate his relatively diminutive opponent, especially when one considers that he was comprehensively out-grappled in their first encounter.
The Arizona native would be best served by focusing on his more well-rounded striking game. His effective blend of of kicks—courtesy of his Taekwondo background—and punches proved to be a winning combination last time out.
It should also be noted that Henderson appeared to be caught off guard by Edgar’s wrestling. There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that “Smooth” would probably ragdoll the pride of Toms River if the fight turned into a grappling match, yet Henderson consistently ended up on his back.
It is doubtful that Henderson will be so ill-prepared this time around, and will perhaps be less charitable in the grappling department. Still, the current lightweight king should avoid such exchanges where possible, and seek to dominate Edgar with his striking.
Whatever the outcome, is there any doubt that this event, unlike UFC 149, will deliver the goods? There are few fighters better equipped to produce a compelling, action-packed fight than these two. And I, for one, cannot wait to see how it unfolds.