Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson square off at the UFC 144 pre-fight press conference on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012 in Tokyo. Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
In the main event of UFC 144, reigning UFC Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (14-1-1; 9-1-1 UFC) puts his belt on the line as he faces former WEC champion Ben Henderson (15-2; 3-0 UFC). This will be Edgar's 4th defense of the belt. Edgar is the #1 ranked Lightweight in the world in the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, and Henderson is just a few spots below him at #4. The PPV card begins this Saturday, February 25 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, and will run for 4 hours on PPV.
It was a complicated road that brought us to Henderson vs. Edgar, with a number of possible contenders eliminated along the way. While Edgar completed his trilogy with Gray Maynard, men like Anthony Pettis, Clay Guida and Jim Miller all rose to near contender status, then were knocked aside. And often, the one who knocked them away was Ben Henderson. Though still a relative newcomer to the UFC, Henderson has looked tremendous in his last two fights, leaving fans salivating for what promises to be a supremely technical and high paced match-up.
How do these two stack up?
Edgar: 30 years old | 5'6" | 68" reach
Henderson: 28 years old | 5'9" | 70" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Frankie "The Answer" Edgar comes in as the defending champion, undefeated in nearly 4 years, and with only one blemish on his career. Yet many fans still view him as vulnerable. There are a lot of possible criticisms of Edgar - he's undersized for the division; he hasn't faced anyone but Penn and Maynard in ages; he should have lost the belt to Maynard (twice?). Yet for all those faults, Edgar keeps finding a way to win. With his speed, boxing, and wrestling, he has ultimately defeated every man who has crossed his path. He's coming off the two amazing 2011 fights with Gray Maynard - both among the best fights the UFC Lightweight division has ever produced. Can his big run continue here?
Ben (or Benson) "Smooth" Henderson came into the UFC as a bit of an afterthought. For the last year of the WEC's existence, he ruled over their Lightweight division, winning great battles against Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone. But in the last ever WEC fight, he was on the losing end of Anthony Pettis and his Showtime kick, costing him valuable momentum. He came back with a win over Bocek, but it was his upset win over Jim Miller that really turned heads. Following that up with the win over Clay Guida, Henderson proved that, despite the Pettis loss, he is the dominant fighter to emerge from the WEC Lightweight division.
Why should you care?
These two are responsible for fight of the year candidates on multiple occasions, and this one should be no different. It's super evenly matched, both men are tenacious and comfortable in all areas of the game... seriously, this fight is going to be incredible.
More UFC 144 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.