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UFC 144 Preview: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson

MMAFrenzy concludes our main card coverage of UFC 144 with our breakdown of Saturday’s main event. The  UFC lightweight title fight between Ben Henderson and champion Frankie Edgar caps off our preview of UFC 144 in a big way as writers Chris Leslie and Bryan Robison break down what each fighter needs to do to either obtain or retain the title.

UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson

Keys for the Champion (BR) – Finally a new opponent for Edgar. After fighting the same guy twice each of the last two years, Edgar has had someone new to train for. The last guy he fought not named Penn or Maynard was Matt Veach in December 2009. Interestingly, he’s fighting a guy in Henderson, who is a solid combination of both Penn and Maynard. While Henderson’s boxing is not as good as Penn’s nor his wrestling as good as Maynard’s, he possesses a strong arsenal of tools.

For Edgar, his advantage in this fight will be his advantage in nearly every fight he will have- his quickness. With his agility and speed, Edgar can wear his opponent down, and he does. With Henderson who is another big lightweight, he will likely look to use his speed to dictate the pace throughout the fight.

He must be weary of Henderson’s underrated submission game, especially his strong guillotine choke. While it’s unlikely for Edgar to risk the fight early by going to for an immediate takedown, he must be on the lookout for Henderson’s attempts to neutralize Edgar’s wrestling.

One other advantage will be Edgar’s striking. Because of all of the punches Edgar throws, Henderson will have to try and keep up in connecting as many punches as Edgar. Henderson is a bigger power puncher than Edgar’s finesse style. With that boxing style, if the fight does go the entire five rounds, Edgar uses that to his advantage in outpointing opponents.

Keys for the Challenger (CL) - It is pretty ironic that Bendo will be fighting for the title on the same card as the last man to defeat him is opening. Henderson has approached every fight since his last loss with a ferocity that was somewhat missing in the Pettis fight.
That ferocity has been absolutely devastating in Bendo’s last three fights and his workrate was enough to make Clay Guida look “slow” at times. That’s no slight against Guida but more a compliment to insane activity level from Bendo. That level and killer instinct will serve Bendo well in his fight with Edgar.
Edgar has sometimes shown the tendency to be a slow starter and if anyone can take advantage of it, it’s Bendo. Bendo’s swarming and power punching style could be enough to put Edgar on his heels early and often. While Edgar is incredibly tough to finish, a strong showing early for Bendo could weight the score cards in his favor considerably.
While Edgar is a strong wrestler, Bendo has great wrestling as well but the other thing is that he is not afraid to fight a submission battle as well. So while Edgar may look for the takedown against Bendo, Bendo loves to use his guillotine choke in those situations.
This fight is one of those that on paper looks like an absolute barnburner from start to finish. While there is always the chance that the fight could not be entertaining, it is unlikely here. Expect a lot of action in this one.

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