The UFC will be in Tokyo, Japan on February 25th for their UFC 144 event, headlined by the Lightweight title defense between champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Ben Henderson. Between the two men, they have finished one fight inside the distance since 2010, so it is safe to say take the over on this bout, it is going the distance. But what will actually happen in the fight and who will win is a little bit of a different story, and a bit of a harder read. Both guys are winners, with very high winning percentages, so this is certain to be a war of attrition.
There is real concern over a boring strategic fight between two very evenly matched athletes. But who do you pick in this fight?
Frankie Edgar is going to have to be careful in this fight. He is facing a strong wrestler who is bigger and longer than himself. Edgar has certainly proven he can handle that with his own strong wrestling and unorthodox boxing, as he has beaten Gray Maynard and BJ Penn convincingly and both are great wrestlers that are longer and bigger than Edgar. The worrisome part is that Edgar has basically used the same game plan against both guys – after four fights he had better be prepared to fight a different way because Henderson is almost certainly going to have a few tricks up his sleeve.
Henderson is going to have to chase down and clinch Edgar, to prevent the movement that makes Edgar so dangerous. If he is capable of doing that and stealing a few rounds early, he can win this fight.
What if Edgar finds himself behind two rounds going into the third? Another thing that Edgar has not shown is a second gear, so it will be interesting to see if Henderson can instill a sense of urgency in the champion if he is ahead. He will have to keep the pressure on, that is where a guy like Maynard failed. Henderson is going to have to come in prepared to go the five.
I am going to hold off on betting this fight until I see the weigh ins. Japan is a long trip, and this is both men’s first trip for a fight of this nature, so I am going to want to get a read on body language and so forth before I lay out money. The over under I am taking the over all day, and right now, I am leaning towards picking Henderson. We shall see after the weigh ins.