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UFC: Henderson hopes rematch with Edgar ends the same way Aug. 11 in Denver

Decatur grad Benson Henderson won the UFC 155-pound lightweight championship in February with a win over Frankie Edgar in Japan. The two will rematch Aug. 11 inside Denver
Decatur grad Benson Henderson won the UFC 155-pound lightweight championship in February with a win over Frankie Edgar in Japan. The two will rematch Aug. 11 inside Denver's Pepsi Center with the belt on the line.
— image credit: Courtesy of UFC

Benson Henderson hopes the first defense of his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 155-pound lightweight belt is just the start of a special and historic run.

The 2001 Decatur High School graduate is set to rematch with Frankie Edgar inside Denver's 18,000-seat Pepsi Center on Aug. 11. Henderson took the UFC lightweight title from Edgar in February with a unanimous decision in Tokyo, Japan. Following the loss, Edgar was given an immediate rematch.

"I really don't care who I fight," Henderson said Tuesday morning during a press conference in Denver promoting UFC 150. "I just fight whoever is put in front of me. I just want to get to Anderson Silva's records. I want to defend my belt one more time above him."

Silva, the current 185-pound champion, holds the UFC record with 14-straight wins and nine title defenses.

As expected, Edgar and others around the UFC thought that he won the fight and were shocked when ring announcer Bruce Buffer called out the decision for Henderson in February. The slight controversy, and the fact that Edgar gave rematches to B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard during his reign as champion, necessitated Henderson-Edgar II.

"Immediately after I thought I won the fight," Edgar said. "But it was a close fight and I'm not going to sit back and care about it now. I got the rematch and I just want to get my belt back."

Henderson landed several powerful kicks and knees during the five-round fight. The three judges had it scored 49-46 twice and 48-47 for Henderson.

The biggest kick, and moment, came late in the second round when Henderson broke Edgar's nose with an upkick. He also shut Edgar's left eye by landing several jabs during the fight.

Edgar tried to use his more polished boxing and movement, but Henderson used his size and strength to control the middle of the ring, landing the more powerful shots.

Henderson admits that his life has changed a little bit after hoisting the UFC lightweight championship belt in February.

"It meant a lot," he said. "To be honest, it just validated my choice to become a fighter. It meant a lot to win and it hits me a little more every day. I will never get used to the notoriety or the fame. Now, I'm walking down the street and somebody yells out my name. But I'm the kind of guy that appreciates that and I really want to enjoy the journey. I know my fighting career is going to be short. I just want to enjoy it."

But Henderson knows that August's rematch with Edgar is going to be a completely different fight than when the two met in Japan.

"Having spent 25 minutes in the cage with Frankie, I know that I have to get better and evolve," he said. "I have to evolve and I can't bring the same thing to this fight. If I do the same thing, he's going to beat the crap out of me. I'll be a better fighter because I'm fighting Frankie again."

The return to Denver is somewhat of a homecoming for Henderson, who was born in Colorado Springs before moving to Federal Way as a kid. Also, after graduating from Dana College in Nebraska as a criminal justice major, Henderson had an offer to become a police officer in Denver.

"I really feed off the fans," Henderson said at the Pepsi Center Tuesday. "The fans get me pumped up. I'm excited because I'm going to feed off you guys."

But Denver could present problems for fighters. The "Mile High City" sits over 5,000 feet above sea level, making it tougher on their bodies during a possible 25-minute fight. With the higher altitude, the human body compensates by increasing the heart and respiratory rate, burning more energy.

Weight-cutting could also be a big factor while fighting in Denver's thin air and is more of a problem for Henderson, who walks around in the 180-pound range. Edgar, on the other hand, is probably the smallest 155-pounder in the UFC, claiming he has an everyday weight of 157 pounds.

"We love doing fights here," UFC President Dana White said at the press conference. "The fans are great and it's a great arena. As a professional, you know you are coming here and have to prepare for this altitude. But these two athletes never stop training and should be fine."

"I plan on coming out (to Denver) early, so I can acclimate," Edgar said Tuesday.

But Henderson, who now lives and trains in Glendale, Ariz., will also be ready for the altitude. He has gained the reputation for being one of the best-conditioned fighters in the UFC during his career.

"It will be fun to watch," Henderson said. "That's all I know."

 

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