UFC 150 Scoring Autopsy: Analyzing The Ben Henderson Vs. Frankie Edgar Decision

Autopsy

The following is a comprehensive albeit belated review of the judges' score for the Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar rematch in the main event of UFC 150 last Saturday. Though we've been treated to more contentious decisions than this, more than a few insist that Edgar deserved the nod and the cageside judges turned in contrasting scores (Dave Hagen and Mark Van Tine had it 48-47 for Henderson while Tony Weeks saw it 49-46 for Edgar). In a recent poll on Bloody Elbow, the community was almost evenly split (at the time of writing) with 260 votes for Henderson, 240 for Edgar and 36 votes for a draw.

I've dusted off my trusty Round Scoring Graph to map out all the significant offense mounted by both fighters in each round. A number is placed to either the left (for Henderson) or to the right (for Edgar) for any score-worthy actions, and done so in descending order as the round-time ticks away. A brief description of the action and how effective it was follows each graph and is accordingly numbered. I've added some random conclusions in italics that are derived from watching the fight a second time with the luxury of rewinding and scrutinizing.


Round One


Bendo_x_edgar_r1_medium

  1. Henderson: sharp inside low kick.
  2. Henderson: another sharp inside low kick.
  3. Edgar: Hard counter-right.
  4. Henderson: chopping low kick, drops Frankie. A scramble ensues with Edgar turtling and Henderson possibly looking to take his back, but Edgar escapes to the standing position.
  5. Henderson: hard spearing knee to the body.
  6. Edgar: sharp inside low kick
  7. Edgar: single leg takedown on Henderson's low kick
  8. Henderson: threatens with a tight guillotine choke until the bell

Summary: Even with an open mind, one would be hard-pressed to drum up a case for Edgar here. Henderson clearly landed the more damaging and effective strikes with the low kicks, one of which scooted Edgar's legs out from underneath him, and the plunging knee to the body. Grappling wise, he also nullified Edgar's takedown by threatening with more portentous offense in the guillotine, which forced Frankie to defend at all costs for the last twenty seconds.

My Score: 10-9 Henderson

UFC 150 Judges Score: 10-9 Henderson (all three judges)

Rounds 2-5 are posted in the full entry.

SBN coverage of UFC 150: Henderson vs Edgar II


Round Two


Bendo_x_edgar_r2_medium

  1. Henderson: low kick that sweeps Edgar off his feet, then attacks with a running body kick that grazes as Edgar stands and circles.
  2. Edgar: lands a decent body shot and grazing left hook and, in the next exchange, fakes a takedown and connects lightly on a lunging straight right.
  3. Edgar: after starting to work his motion, he holds his ground and sconnects on a stiff one-two, catches Henderson's kick and throws a jab and two kicks. The last flurry isn't significant but hints at Edgar's influence over the tempo. I have the fight even at this point, as Edgar's string of successful exchanges is now comparable to Henderson's more meaningful single outburst with the low kick.
  4. Henderson: lands a low kick with only moderate power, as Edgar jams it by stepping in and trying to scoop up the leg. It's not very significant but the first sign of legit offense in almost a minute.
  5. Henderson: another slicing low kick that Edgar tries to catch for a takedown, but Henderson hops out of his grasp.
  6. Edgar: while Henderson seems to find the mark with an uppercut, Edgar counters with a streaking right hand that drops Henderson to the canvas.
  7. Edgar: after the knockdown, Henderson is turtled and Edgar switches from a cradle to the front-headlock position while fishing for a modified front choke. It's loose at first but eventually gets tight and Henderson scrambles free when Edgar tries to wrench it.
  8. Edgar: from the knockdown at 2:30 until the 1:00 minute mark, Edgar works from the front-headlock position. He lands one knee to the head so Henderson spends his time passively by crouching over and placing a hand on the mat or going to a knee, thus rendering himself "downed" and prohibiting Edgar from landing kicks or knees to the head. While Edgar doesn't mount much significant offense here, Henderson's painfully complacent and solely defending for a minute and half after a drastic shift in momentum, which gives him little chance of surpassing the level of Edgar's effective offense.
  9. Edgar: stuffs a Henderson double-leg easily and regains the front-headlock position. Edgar snaps Henderson's head down and Henderson leans over and places both hands on the canvas while he's still standing, like a weird game of full-contact Twister. While he uses the rules to his advantage by taking knees to the head away from Edgar, the strategy is 100% defensive and he breaks free with only fifteen seconds left.
  10. Henderson: lands a kick to the body at the bell that connects but Frankie half-catches it. Either way, not enough.

Summary: This is an indisputable nod for Edgar and approaching the 10-8 realm for his late-round dominance. Take it easy -- I said "approaching." The 2nd half of the round is classic 10-8 material: Edgar notched a clean knockdown, completely controlled Henderson from the front headlock and continuously threatened with chokes; Henderson spent that entire time doing nothing but defending and the only shred of offense he mounted was the body kick right at the bell. Were it not for the early low kick that swept Edgar off his feet, which is indicative of a very significant and effective strike, this would be a 10-8 in my book.

My Score: 10-9 Edgar

UFC 150 Judges Score: 10-9 Edgar (all three judges)


Round Three


Bendo_x_edgar_r3_medium

  1. Henderson: this proves how and why Edgar was susceptible to high kicks. Henderson fakes a low kick and Edgar literally jumps into the air to avoid it even though it's never unlatched; then Henderson presses forward and slices a right high-kick that lands to the face, though it connects with the foot and is more of a swipe. Henderson attempts another high kick right after this, but it's telegraphed (no set-up) and blocked.
  2. Edgar: beautifully counters another telegraphed strike from Henderson with no set-up (step-in right hand) with two right hooks; one connecting to the body and the other to the head but blocked.
  3. Henderson: lands another lead, spearing knee to the body that Frankie tries to catch, but can't.
  4. Edgar: doubles up on moderate-power low kicks. Henderson responds with one of his own but Edgar finally checks it and circles away from the follow-up body kick.
  5. Edgar: gets the better of an exchange and then connects on a body kick in their next clash. It's not definitive but inches the mark back to about even at this point of the round (3:00).
  6. Edgar: from 3:00 to around 1:30 on the clock, he clearly gets the better end of a handful of exchanges and concludes this time-frame with two series of crisp low kicks. This is why many are criticizing Edgar for "point fighting" as he doesn't do damage but is clearly the more efficient striker -- Henderson is barely landed anything; what he does land is blocked. Frankie is simply using his hand speed and movement to land more strikes and orchestrate the tempo. Remember: striking is assessed by the volume and significance of landed strikes -- these score as the former -- and, though a secondary credential, Edgar is unquestionably in control for "dictating the pace and creating striking opportunities."
  7. Edgar: catches two consecutive kicks from Henderson and returns fire with a body kick and punches. Again, not drastic but he's winning more exchanges by a close margin, mounting more offense and negating Henderson's.
  8. Edgar: counters Henderson's lazy one-two with a low-velocity right hand.
  9. Henderson: connects on a solid low kick, which is really his first significant strike since the opening minute of the round.
  10. Mutual: Edgar lands a body kick then fakes a takedown and comes high with punches (though they don't land hard) and Henderson swings a big right hand before the bell that grazes Edgar when he ducks under it. Henderson's right hand didn't land clean either but it definitely gives the impression of a more powerful strike. However, we don't judge on impression and power only has an effect when it lands square or blocked but absorbed fully.

Summary: Henderson was only sparsely successful in the opening and closing minute of this round with roughly three actions: the swiping high kick early, the low kick with about 30-seconds left and the mostly-blocked right at the bell. I don't think anyone could argue against Edgar landing the higher volume of strikes so, since the entire round took place on the feet, the question becomes whether Henderson's lower volume of landed strikes was considerably more significant in order to surpass Edgar's volume.

This is where subjectivity and individual interpretation come into play, but I don't think they were. The few blows he landed were harder but Edgar also landed some stiff shots, more overall and also gets my nod in the auxiliary measures of control and aggression for his helmsmanship from 4:00 on the clock to about 0:30. In my personal opinion, this round wasn't as close after re-watching as I remember it being live.

My Score: 10-9 Edgar

UFC 150 Judges Score: Dave Hagen and Mark Van Tine had it 10-9 for Henderson while Tony Weeks saw it 10-9 for Edgar.


Round Four


Bendo_x_edgar_r4_medium

  1. Henderson: opens with a body kick that Edgar catches and tries to turn into a takedown. Henderson stuffs the shot, eats a quick right but then connects on another spearing knee to the body after they reset, then backs Edgar up with a committed one-two that grazes. He closes with a low kick that Edgar checks, but this initial barrage puts him in the driver's seat right away. These knees are deceivingly punishing as they're short, heavy and use Edgar's forward momentum against him. Also, Henderson finally sits down on his punches rather than flinging them out casually.
  2. Mutual: Henderson connects on a hard low kick but Edgar counters with a crisp flurry.
  3. Edgar: scores with a clean low kick and then catches Henderson's lazy kick and takes him down in the next exchange. Edgar backs out and lands a pair of kicks to the thigh. Henderson scoots away and throws the memorable (but not really significant) roundhouse kick from his back, then tries to scramble free but gets contained in the front-headlock position.
  4. Edgar: from the takedown at about 3:35 to the 2:39 mark, Henderson goes back to putting both hands on the canvas and playing a defensive game while Edgar controls him from the front headlock and pursues a front choke or no-arm guillotine. Henderson's passivity for nearly a minute puts the round back to even in my eyes.
  5. Edgar: for the following minute (from approx. 2:30 to 1:30), Edgar goes on the attack and backs Henderson up with a string of combinations. Though only a few connect, Henderson is retreating, barely even throwing and only connects on two short punches at the end of the sequence after Edgar lands right downstairs.
  6. Edgar: more volume here -- he slips a charging right hand and lands his own right to the body and the head, then connects on an outside low kick and counter-punches on Henderson's low kick. This again inches the graph line from even to slightly in Edgar's favor.
  7. Edgar: he twice counters Henderson's punches, dodging them and landing one or two of his own. He uses nice footwork to clip Henderson with an inside low kick after they reset. This puts Edgar out of the 10-10 zone and onto the fringe of 10-9.
  8. Edgar: with 30 seconds left in the round, Henderson tries another body kick that Edgar catches, but Henderson pushes him away and attacks; Edgar evades. Henderson starts raising his hands, almost taunting Edgar, and Edgar snaps his head back with a right hand.

Summary: Again, Edgar landed the higher volume of strikes, dictated the bulk of the exchanges, scored a takedown and controlled Henderson from the front-headlock while the champ merely defended for a long (and critical) period of time. The question is the same: did Henderson do anything drastically more significant to out-weigh Edgar's higher volume of offense (more strikes landed, takedown, minute of forcing pure defense and a better case for winning aggression and control)? I don't think so. I'm quite liberal with 10-10 rounds but the last two creep into a close 10-9 on my card.

My Score: 10-9 Edgar

UFC 150 Judges Score: Dave Hagen and Mark Van Tine had it 10-9 for Henderson while Tony Weeks saw it 10-9 for Edgar.


Round Five


Bendo_x_edgar_r5_medium

  1. Edgar: stiff right hand sneaks through Henderson's defense and lands clean.
  2. Edgar: nails a sweet, charging outside trip and hurls Henderson to the canvas, but he's quickly back to his feet. This scores as a legit takedown though nothing comes of it. Edgar follows up with a flurry, at least one of which (left hook) connects solidly. In the next exchange, Edgar ducks a hook and plants a right to Henderson's body and jaw that land flush. This puts Edgar in the lead one-minute into the 5th round.a
  3. Edgar: scores with a slick combo of outside low kicks; first with the right, then with the left. Both connect solid.
  4. Henderson: lands a single body kick to the ribs. His first significant strike comes almost a minute-and-a-half in.
  5. Mutual/Henderson: Frankie grazes with a low kick but Henderson counters with a left. If I had to guess, Henderson's seemed to land better but it's close.
  6. Edgar: charges with a 3-piece flurry that backs Henderson up (landing at least one right hand) then catches another Henderson kick and lands his own to the body. Halfway through the final round, this puts Edgar firmly in the driver's seat though not by a wide margin.
  7. Henderson: lands a glancing straight left followed by a flush left in the next exchange.
  8. Edgar: counters Henderson's kick with a two-piece that lands lightly.
  9. Mutual: Henderson lands a left, stuffs Edgar half-hearted double leg but eats a punch on the break.
  10. Edgar: lands at least one shot on a 4-punch combination, then once again connects twice on his right-to-left outside low kicks, the last of which almost causes Henderson to lose his footing.
  11. Henderson: lands the spearing knee to the body. Not a blockbuster, as Edgar catches it partially, but a significant strike.
  12. Edgar: with about 0:50 left, Edgar seems to get the better of two exchanges with his quickness, landing moderately to the head and body.
  13. Henderson: wings a right that Edgar dodges but catches him hard with a follow up left, which causes Edgar to reposition his mouthpiece.
  14. Mutual: Edgar attacks with a 3-piece combination and then a 2-piece, the last right in each flurry connecting to the face; Henderson blocks Edgar's high kick and then lands one of his own when Edgar stumbles while recovering. Like the earlier head kicks from Henderson, it's more of a swiping blow and doesn't dig in or connect with power.

Summary: I see no justification for elevating Henderson's offense higher in this round when compared to Edgar's higher volume of landed strikes. Others may view it differently, but they'd have to substantiate how and why Henderson's lower output of offense deserves to be not only equal with Edgar's superior output, but worthy enough to win him the round. If anyone does feel this way, please voice it in the comments.

My Score: 10-9 Edgar

My Overall Score: 49-46 Edgar

UFC 150 Judges Score: 10-9 Edgar (all three judges)

UFC 150 Judges Overall Score: Dave Hagen and Mark Van Tine had it 48-47 Henderson while Tony Weeks penned the same 49-46 for Edgar that I did.

All judging and scoring information from MMADecisions.com

Star-divide


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