What: UFC 151, Henderson vs. Edgar II
Breakdown: At 5-foot-6 and a smidge below 155 pounds, the biggest part of Edgar’s body is his heart. He’s talented, sure; he flutters around the ring like a hummingbird, using his crisp boxing and relentless wrestling to overwhelm opponents. But make no mistake about it, Edgar’s will to win is the catalyst for what has been one of the most successful lightweight careers in MMA history. People said he couldn’t dethrone longtime champ BJ Penn, a man who once reigned as king at welterweight and is such a maniacal madman he licked Joe Stevenson’s blood off his own gloves. Edgar beat him twice. People doubted that the wispy Edgar could defend his title against Gray Maynard, a physical monstrosity who had already previously defeated him. Edgar survived a brutal beating in the opening round and knocked him out. Unfortunately, Edgar’s magic finally fizzled against Benson Henderson, who on top of being as well-rounded and persistent as Edgar, is also much bigger. The first fight was close, so close that many argued it could have easily gone in Edgar’s favor. But that’s hearsay. Henderson controlled the action the majority of the fight and landed the more significant strikes, including an up-kick that jettisoned skyward like a bottle rocket and sent pieces of Edgar’s jaw into the back of his cranium. Yes, it was close, but it was still a fight that tilted clearly in Bendo’s favor.
The second time around it’s hard to see how the outcome could be anything but the same. The problem is that Edgar is already at a massive disadvantage before the first punch is even thrown, appearing at least one weight class smaller than Henderson. That hasn’t permitted Edgar from finding victory in the past, but here he’s colliding with a man who, like Edgar, is apparently powered by a nuclear reactor. Without that edge in cardio and bravery that Edgar usually has, he’s negated to merely a well-rounded mortal. This fight will likely be dead even for most of the way and will come down to whoever lands the most damaging shots in key exchanges, like Henderson did with that up-kick. In a game of inches like MMA sometimes that boils down to sheer luck, which is why someone like Edgar, who is always game and consistently gives himself chances, can never be counted out. Edgar doesn’t have one punch knockout power, but as he showed against Maynard, his strikes can pour on top of you like wet cement until you crumble under the increasing burden. But again, he’s facing a steep uphill climb against Smooth, whose striking and wrestling is just as solid and who doesn’t have a face that bleeds like a corn syrup drenched action star. Edgar’s facial makeup isn’t conducive to taking severe punishment, which he does every time he fights, while Smooth claims he’s never even suffered a black eye before. This isn’t an unwinnable war for Edgar, but he’s simply facing too many disadvantages to realistically like his chances. I don’t think, at least this time, the Answer is going to have one for Smooth.
Prediction: Benson Henderson by submission, Round 4.
About the Author
Written by Erik Schmidt
I was born into a rich sports tradition in Chicago and graduated with a degree in super fandom from Marquette University. As the sports editor and columnist for the award-winning student newspaper the Marquette Tribune, I interviewed current NBA players Wes Matthews, Lazar Hayward, Jimmy Butler, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder, and talked LeBron and the lockout with ESPN's Chris Broussard during a televised roundtable discussion. I firmly believe that Derrick Rose is the best player in the NBA, the Cubs are honest to God cursed and that Jay Cutler has never smiled. The world's greatest sport is MMA, and though I don't have any real fighting experience, I once received 10 stitches in a bar fight. Enjoy my work, and best wishes.