That’s the question on everyone’s mind following a dominating performance over 15 fight UFC veteran, Clay Guida.
Henderson dominated from the get go, dropping Guida within the first 30 seconds after the two traded wild shots. He used a successful strategy of stuffing Guida’s takedowns and making him strike with him. In the 3rd round Guida managed to muster his most successful offense of the fight. During a scramble Guida found himself latching onto a very tight guillotine choke that, seemingly, had Henderson in quite a bit of trouble. Henderson weathered the storm and finished the fight on top of Guida throwing bombs. The judges gave Henderson the win (30-27,29-28 and 30-27) after three rounds of incredible action.
Leading up to the fight, Dana White stated that the winner would be in line to face Frankie Edgar for the Lightweight title in Japan. He stayed true to that promise by announcing the fight at the post fight press conference.
Edgar is coming off of, perhaps, the best performance of his career; a 4th round knockout of his well-documented rival Gray Maynard. Edgar and Maynard had battled twice before. Once with Maynard taking a decision and a controversial draw in the second fight. In their third fight, Edgar was hurt badly in the 1st round and battled back in the 2nd, much like their second fight. In the 4th round Edgar managed to connect with a beautifully timed right uppercut and it was all over from there. He landed his next few punches with incredible accuracy and Maynard went limp, ending the trilogy in dramatic fashion.
With both men coming off of their most impressive performances to date it’s going to be very tough to pick a winner in this fight.
Henderson has grown in leaps and bounds in his short time with the UFC. It’s hard to believe that, less than a year ago, he was on the losing end of a decision to Anthony Pettis in the WEC’s last aired fight. Since coming over to the UFC, Henderson has beaten Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida all impressively. His skill set has grown in leaps and bounds and his confidence continues to grow with each dominating performance. The takedown defense he showed against Guida was brilliant. He was able to stuff 7 of the 9 takedowns Guida attempted and he was able to stand right back up from the 2 that Guida did manage to land. Henderson was also able to drop Guida with a flurry of punches during the first minute of the fight. He continued to show his improved punching throughout the rest of the fight, making it pretty clear that Guida was not on the same level as him.
In the Jim Miller fight, Henderson showed composure beyond his years as he defended several submission attempts calmly and patiently throughout the fight. Henderson’s ability to ground out Miller with a heavy top game was also evident in this fight. He battered Miller with both elbows and punches leaving him a bloody mess at the end of the fight; something we’ve never seen before.
Edgar, on the other hand, is a 2x defending, (3x if you count retaining with a draw), UFC lightweight champion. He took the title from B.J. Penn at UFC 112 in controversial fashion. He was a huge underdog coming into the bout and many people felt like he didn’t deserve to be in the same cage as Penn. Boy, did he prove them wrong. Edgar came back and dominated Penn in the rematch to take a unanimous decision. He has displayed a vast arsenal of skills inside the octagon along with a giant heart. Edgar’s footwork and head movement have improved to elite levels in his last few fights to accompany his already stellar wrestling.
Looking at this fight on paper there is no way it would disappoint. Both men are at the top of their division. They’re both entertaining fighters that like to dictate the pace of their fights and it will be interesting to see if either man can force the other fighter into their preferred style of fight. Looking at their past performances, it would seem that Edgar would want to keep this fight standing and Henderson would like to take the fight to the ground in an effort to force Edgar to work off his back. It is important to note that Henderson is the much larger fighter. Edgar doesn’t cut weight to make lightweight, but Henderson does. Henderson cuts quite a bit of weight, actually. To be fair, Maynard cuts a lot of weight as well so it doesn’t necessarily mean this is a disadvantage to Edgar, but chances are it will aide Ben in certain situations. Both men have cardio for days and are very familiar to the championship rounds, so don’t expect the action to slow at any point during this fight.
Henderson is perhaps Edgar’s biggest test to date and has an excellent chance at becoming the first WEC fighter to win UFC gold. One thing is for sure though; this is one fight that you do not want to miss.