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UFC: Benson Henderson remains lightweight champ with another win over Frankie Edgar | Slideshow
The second time around was much like the first time for Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar.
Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd inside Denver’s Pepsi Center, Henderson retained his
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight championship with his second-straight decision win over Edgar. The Decatur grad won 48-47 on two of the judge’s scorecards and Edgar won 49-46 on the third judge’s card in the main event at UFC 150.
And just like the first time Henderson and Edgar got together in Japan at UFC 144, the judges’ decision was controversial. A large portion of the Pepsi Center crowd booed the final verdict when ring announcer Bruce Buffer said, “still lightweight champion of the world, Benson Henderson.”
“I felt I improved from last time, and I think I did enough to win,” Edgar said. “A lot of people told me they thought I’d won, but it doesn’t matter. The judges didn’t. The decision is not going to chance, and it is what it is.”
Henderson (17-2 overall, 5-0 in the UFC) won the February meeting by unanimous decision, but Edgar was granted an immediate rematch by UFC President Dana White. Edgar held the 155-pound lightweight championship for nearly two years before the loss to Henderson and granted B.J. Penn and Gray Maynard rematches.
“I’m not a judge,” White said. “Ben Henderson won the fight, he retained his title, and that’s the end off it. That’s why I always say, if you don’t want to be sitting in her going, ‘I think I won that fight,’ you cannot leave it in the hands of the judges. Don't let it get there.”
The win over Edgar (14-3-1) means Henderson will defend his lightweight belt later this year against Nate Diaz, according to White. There isn’t a definitive date set for the title fight, but White did say the championship bout would take place in 2012.
Despite the victory, Henderson wasn’t totally happy with his performance against Edgar.
“The biggest thing I was disappointed in myself with is that I didn’t push the pace enough,” Henderson said. “I didn’t do a good enough job of capitalizing and getting on top of him when he was off balance. My coaches were yelling at me to push the pace, but I was lethargic and didn’t push it as much as I should have.”
The height and weight disparity between Henderson and Edgar was more than noticeable. Henderson is listed at 5-foot-9 and has stated before that he “walks around” at nearly 180 pounds before cutting weight before a fight. On the other hand, Edgar is listed at 5-foot-6 and doesn’t have to cut weight to make the 155-pound limit.
The first round started with both fighters feeling each other out. Henderson landed a couple leg kicks before catching him with a guillotine choke hold late in the round. Edgar was able to withstand the choke before the bell ended the round.
“That was a part of the original game plan, going forward and targeting that to get him off-balance and then capitalize,” Henderson said of the leg kicks. “I didn’t do a good enough job of capitalizing and getting on top of him when he was off-balance. I think I landed it three or four times where he was off-balance and stumbled a little bit and I wasn’t able to quite do what we wanted to do with it.”
The second round was dominated by Edgar, who connected with a right hand two minutes into the round, knocking Henderson to the ground. The Toms River, NJ native then stayed on top of Henderson for most of the round.
The third round proved to be the decisive one of the match. Henderson won the basically non-eventful five minutes on two of the judges’ cards and Edgar was given the round by the third judge.
Henderson turned up the heat again in round four, landing a head kick from the ground that was similar to the kick he landed during their first bout in February. The kick broke Edgar’s nose and basically won the fight for Henderson.
The fifth and final round was a close one, as well. But in the end, all three judges scored the round for Edgar.
"I thought I was ahead heading into the fifth round," Henderson said. "Maybe, at worst, it was even and I had to win the fifth round. But anytime you leave it in the judges' decision ,even if you beat the guy up, you never know."
“I came in here and laid it all on the line,” Edgar said. “I thought I won, but congrats to Ben.”
“All of Frankie Edgar’s fights seem to be controversial,” Henderson said.
“It doesn’t really matter what I think,” Edgar replied. “I could be pissed off, but it’s still the decision and it’s never going to change, so it is what it is.”
The crowd was buzzing before Henderson and Edgar entered the Octagon after hometown boy Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone knocked out Melvin Guillard in the co-main event. Cerrone is the guy Henderson beat to win the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) title. He also won another rematch with Cerrone at WEC 48 in Sacramento.
Henderson, 28, began wrestling during his time at Lakota Middle School and continued at Decatur, where he competed under head coach Mike Bressler.
His prep career culminated with a second-place finish at the 2001 Mat Classic state wrestling championships
inside the Tacoma Dome, losing to University’s Tommy Owen in the 135-pound title match.
After Decatur, Henderson went on to wrestle at Dana College in Nebraska, where he earned NAIA All-American honors as a senior after finishing in fifth place at 157 pounds in 2006.
Henderson’s performance helped Dana College win the NAIA national championship that year.
He actually started MMA fighting a year after a dare from a couple of Dana wrestlers.