Benson Henderson defeats Frankie Edgar (unanimous decision)
What Happened: For the second time in a row Henderson won a decision by a margin smaller than those toothpicks he likes to chomp on. It was by no means a chaotic bloodbath or bombastic war, but the fight was exciting in the way it’s always interesting to see two masters, no matter the sport or context, go head to head. Smooth and the Answer are both amazing technicians, and most of the fight, as expected, was traversed in the middle of the ring as the two traded sharp jabs and leg kicks. The action was almost annoyingly evenly distributed, leading to the inevitably controversial split decision that Henderson won. Many presumed beforehand that whichever fighter landed the most significant and damaging strikes would come out on top, but this curiously wasn’t the case. There were two rounds, the second and the fifth, that clearly went in one fighter’s favor, and that was Edgar, who landed the most potent punch of the fight in round two that floored Bendo, and then simply outpaced the champ in the final stanza with a flurry of jabs and hooks. Those two rounds were the only certainties in a battle that was basically a violent Rubik’s cube, which meant for Henderson to be awarded the win the judges would have to give him the edge in the other three rounds that were closer than Siamese twins. Amazingly, that’s exactly what happened, and though it’s an unfortunate circumstance for Edgar, it’s hard to particularly blame them. Henderson, with his enormous size advantage over the spritely Edgar, commanded the center of the octagon and appeared to win most of the exchanges. Bendo wasn’t greeted with much enthusiasm after the win, as most fans and media pundits seem to have decided there was a royal robbery in Denver on Saturday, but at least this adds a sense of clarity to the lightweight landscape and we can all move on from the rematches galore that have made the division play out as a real life Groundhog Day the last few years.
What’s Next for Henderson: Despite his nickname being Smooth, things haven’t exactly gone that way for Henderson in his two title fights. Both of his wins were met with extreme levels of controversy and many fans have gravitated towards Edgar in his losses instead of supporting the new champ. That’s a tough break, especially for a fighter as good and exciting as Henderson. It’s not exactly his fault that both fights were thisclose and it’s most definitely not his fault the judges decided he won both of them. Another issue is that, in terms of fight outcomes, he’s entering GSP territory, which is a bleak and boring place to be. Since entering the UFC last year he’s 5-0 with five decision victories, but, in general, the fights have all been fairly entertaining. Still, it’s hard for a champ to gain that magical aura of dominance when all his wins are handed to him by judges. Luckily, the Diaz brothers rarely let anybody decide anything, and Henderson gets to fight one of them. Here’s to hoping Nate can bring back the whirling dervish version of Bendo that once submitted Donald Cerrone and Jamie Varner in back to back fights. Henderson fights Nate Diaz sometime next year
What’s Next for Edgar: A diet. It’s no secret that Edgar is an extremely small lightweight, especially if you’ve seen his face after one of his fights. His opponents often treat his facial features like Mr. Potatohead accessories, rearranging his extremities with violent disregard. It’s probably true that Edgar simply has one of those faces, sort of the anti Dan Henderson. It’s also true that he wouldn’t have to go see the plastic surgeon after every fight if he moved down to featherweight, a land where most people walk around at more his eye level and punch like cotton balls are stuffed in their gloves. The media and UFC president have been begging him to drop down in weight for a while now, and maybe now that he’s likely several fights away from another title shot at 155, he’ll heed their advice. A change of scenery sounds like a good idea for Edgar. But you know what sounds like a really bad one? A clash with featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo. Edgar takes on Jose Aldo in a featherweight superfight.
Donald Cerrone defeats Melvin Guillard (KO)
What Happened: In what was the shortest Fight of the Night winner you’ll ever see, Cowboy Cerrone battled back from a scary, hazy place to knock out Guillard in round one. Guillard, the Young Assassin who’s not quite so young anymore, had Cerrone hanging on by the slimmest of threads after a monster right hand. But trying to knock out Cerrone is like trying to domesticate Bigfoot. Cowboy hung on, regained his senses, and then decided his next course of action would be attempting to punt Guillard’s head into the first row. His high kick smashed against Guillard’s temple with such force that the Young Assassin quickly forgot the concept of balance as he staggered limp-legged around the ring. It only took one more punch for Cerrone to put Guillard completely out, but it will take decades for him to regenerate all the lost brain cells. It was the most exciting four minutes you could feasibly ever hope to witness.
What’s Next for Cerrone: This one’s easy. Cerrone has been actively calling out fellow WEC alum Anthony Pettis, who conversely was the last WEC champ and the last man to beat Benson Henderson. You might remember him better has the man who ruled Youtube for a day after leaping off the cage like a Quentin Tarantino daydream and putting his foot firmly in Henderson’s jaw, which had dropped from the impossible feat that was transpiring before him. Pettis has been promised a couple of title shots by the UFC, which he obviously hasn’t gotten yet, but this is clearly a number one contender bout. Raise your hand if you think this fight will be boring. Cerrone fights Anthony Pettis in a number one contender bout on a FOX show.
What’s Next for Guillard: It’s pretty clear at this point that Guillard is one of the most inconsistent fighter’s in MMA. And not even inconsistent from year to year or fight to fight; he goes from incredible to terrible within the same round. Saturday was Guillard’s whole existence in a tight four minute span. He flashed that manic, chaotic power – power that no one at lightweight should be allowed to possess – when he nearly knocked out Cerrone with one punch. Then, as it always does, his brain got in the way. Seemingly lured into a false sense that this fight was already over, he forgot that Cerrone still had every right to hit him back. Which he did. A few seconds later and Guillard was left wondering what the heck went wrong. We all were, and it’s becoming a maddening routine with him. Some will suggest that Guillard is a flawed fighter or that maybe he’s simply not that good. But physically, he’s the absolute prototype of what a lightweight champ should look like, and skill wise he’s not far behind, though his ground game is rather dodgy. No, Guillard has the tools to fight for the belt one day, he just needs to stop getting in his own way. Guillard fights Jamie Varner in a bout drenched with vengeance.
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.