On February 26th(or the 25th in the US) the UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar will attempt to defend his belt against the WEC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson(lineally, the WEC LW strap passed from Pettis, to Guida, and back to Henderson) in the land of the rising sun.
For me, this is one of the more compelling matches the LW division has to offer. Edgar was dropped approximately 37 times by Gray Maynard between their last two fights, while Henderson has been dropped or rocked by Pettis, Miller, and Guida. The great thing is that both of them show rather quick recovery after having their chins checked, throw in that both have great cardio and you have ingredients for what could be a back and forth war.
I've been thinking about the fight a lot and have tried to break down ways for each fighter to win. I've thought about how each of them could take home a decision, and what would be the most likely way for either to achieve a finish. Breakdwon after the jump.
To Win a Decision
Benson Henderson has shown a lot of toughness when it comes to surviving submissions and recovering quickly after being rocked or dropped. Given Edgar's higher decision rate and Henderson's durability, a decision victory for Edgar is likely. To pull it off he essentially has to do what he always does. He needs to use his excellent footwork, his ability to sneak in sharp punches, and his talent for mixing in unexpected takedowns when his opponents are least expecting it.
He has to 'Do what Frankie does' for five rounds. I would suggest keeping it standing and at a distance all costs, I wouldn't suggest trying to find out who can outmuscle who in the clinch with 'Smooth'. Circle, punch, kick, occasional takedown, slick combination, rinse and repeat is the name of the game here.
I don't like the chances of anyone at lightweight submitting Ben Henderson, and after seeing him flattened by a flush Showtime kick and still survive, I wouldn't bank on a straight KO either. So if Edgar gets a finish, I imagine it will be due to death by accumulation. I think Edgar has the spice to drop or rock Henderson with his better punches, and the key will be to do that a few times over and build up the damage to get a TKO stoppage somewhere in the last 3 rounds.
To Win a Decision
Benson Henderson is one of the bigger and thicker lightweights in the UFC, while Frankie Edgar is one of the smaller for the division. Henderson has to use that, smother Frankie Edgar, get to him, clinch him, dirty box him, press him against the cage, take him down and just make it a very up close and personal type of fight. Henderson has the cardio to go for five, and he'll need it here. He has to keep constant pressure on Edgar.
If Henderson lets 'The Answer' apply his distance game, he's playing with fire. He needs to stay on Edgar. An applicapble line from Sin City comes to mind, "I gotcha you little bastard, lets see ya hop around now."
Edgar is definitely able to be buzzed by the shots Henderson throws. I'm sure even if Edgar's chin was in perfect condition before the Maynard fights, it's certainly not in that type of shape now. But straight KO-ing Edgar doesn't seem like a viable option for Henderson to persue. However, if Henderson can rock Edgar, hurt him badly, and go for a submission, then Edgar's dazed state might leave the perfect opportunity. A late TKO after dropping Edgar multiple times is always a possibility...but subbing a shaken Edgar seems like a much safer choice then hedging your bets on a TKO finish.
Who wins and how?