UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson Review – A Smooth Night Of Action
It was a long Saturday night as the UFC 144 main card was seven fights instead of the usual five. It was all worth it in the end though.
Ben Henderson def. Frankie Edgar: As expected, this fight was awesome. It was a back and forth battle that went to a decision and in the end, Henderson got his hand raised. I agreed with the decision although wouldn’t have had a problem if things went Edgar’s way because it was a very close fight. Obviously Henderson’s size advantage made the difference though. Edgar used his speed and technical boxing while Henderson mixed things up a bit better, throwing in kicks and knees, and did a nice job countering. Both guys scored with takedowns, but none of them lasted too long as the opponent was immediately back up. The two big moments in the fight were in Henderson’s favor as he landed an up-kick in the second round that busted the nose of Edgar and locked on a guillotine in the fourth. Normally a guillotine on Edgar wouldn’t mean too much, but considering it was Henderson, who has one of the sickest guillotine chokes in the sport, it meant more than if someone like Dennis Siver tried it. It was a little surprising that Henderson didn’t use his clinch skills as much and was content on striking with Edgar. Obviously Edgar had a lot to do with that as he was constantly moving but it’s almost like Henderson made things more difficult on himself by striking instead of using his wrestling. He did a nice job with his striking though, especially his counter right, which he landed almost every time Edgar moved forward. Edgar tried to take away the kicks of Henderson by catching them, but he never made him pay thanks in large part to the height of Henderson. I hope there’s a rematch between the two since this fight was very close and we all know that the rematch will be a great fight as well. Plus Edgar had to go through BJ Penn and Gray Maynard twice so I think it would be nice of the UFC to give him the same opportunity. Unfortunately it seems like Dana White is pushing Edgar to drop to 145, which is really stupid since Edgar doesn’t want anything to do with the division and likes not having to cut weight. I always thought it was dumb how often “Edgar should move to 145″ was brought up, especially considering that he was the champion at 155. If the guy doesn’t want to drop the weight, he doesn’t have to. It’d be one thing if he was losing fights to mediocre competition, but he’s been fighting and beating some of the best. So knock it off everyone. As for Henderson, he might be my new favorite fighter. Not only is he a Carolina Panthers fan like myself, but he also drinks chai lattes from Starbucks. It doesn’t hurt that he’s an awesome fighter.
Ryan Bader def. Quinton Jackson: Jackson didn’t care if he won or lost, he just wanted to put on a great performance. Well he lost, and besides a nice looking slam that amounted to nothing, his performance sucked. He showed up overweight, blamed a knee injury that didn’t seem to effect him until after the fight, and then fought like the same ol Jackson who just looks to counter punch and has trouble with guys who know how to use movement. I’ll give credit to Bader as he was able to takedown Jackson, which can be tough when he’s on his game, and showed good top control as well. He still over-relies on his right hand, although he did a nice job in this fight feinting with the takedown and coming over the top with it. It was definitely Bader’s best performance, but considering that he was facing a shell of what Jackson used to be, it won’t be looked at very highly. I still have trouble getting over the fact that Bader lost to Tito Ortiz less than a year ago.
Mark Hunt def. Cheick Kongo: The greatest heavyweight of all-time continued to solidify his legacy this past Saturday. Kongo clinched up one time, failed to do anything with it, and Hunt was able to break away. When they were at a striking distance, Hunt showed why he’s a K-1 level striker and Kongo is one of the most overrated strikers in the sport. Hunt dropped him with a counter and then pounded him out. Obviously Hunt still has his flaws, but anyone who stands with him is going to be in a lot of trouble because of his technical striking, power, and chin. As for Kongo, he continues to be an awesome gatekeeper who is afraid to get hit.
Jake Shields def. Yoshihiro Akiyama: If you didn’t know anything about Akiyama before this fight, you found out that he had great takedown defense thanks to the commentary crew. Takedown defense doesn’t win fights when you fail to do absolutely nothing else in the bout though except for a couple of judo throws that led to Shields immediately getting up. They looked nice, but had they just been regular takedowns, no one would have bothered to mention them. Shields out-struck Akiyama with his usual jabs, straight, and body kicks that had nothing on them before finally getting Akiyama down in the final minute of the fight. It wasn’t a super-impressive performance by Shields but he needed a win and he fought within himself, which is something I always appreciate about Shields. He may not be the most talented fighter in the world, but he makes the most with what he has.
Tim Boetsch def. Yushin Okami: For two rounds, Okami looked like one of the best middleweights in the world and the guy who earned a title shot just last year. He was using a straight jab that Rogan could see, but Boetsch couldn’t, and throwing really good combinations. He was also using his strength to bully Boetsch around, get him down, and rough him up on the ground. Then Boetsch knew he was down two rounds and decided that, unlike most fighters, he was going to come out swinging in the third round and get the knockout or get knocked out. He got the knockout. He proceeded to uppercut Okami into the spike pit as Rogan yelled “FINISH HIM! FATALITY!” and then had to change his pants. It was an awesome comeback, but not quite the greatest of all time. I also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that Boetsch got dominated for ten minutes before going for broke and winning. He’s found a nice home at 185 though and is now “in the mix” as Dana likes to over-say.
Hatsu Hioki def. Bart Palaszewski: If you don’t think that Hioki has the most complete ground games in MMA, then watch this fight. The way he passes, uses his striking, and sets things up is phenomenal to watch. When Hioki gets an opponent down to the ground, chances are that they won’t be getting up. Hioki is a very strange fighter though, because sometimes he just decides to stand with guys despite his ground game. Case in point: the second round. After dominating the first round and nearly submitting Palaszewski on the ground, Hioki stood with Palaszewski the whole time. While he looked fine and more than held his own, we all wondered why he didn’t just put Palaszewski down and go back to dominating. In fact, in the final 10 seconds, he took Palaszewski down and got his back, but of course had no time to work. If Edgar doesn’t drop to 145, UFC would be crazy not to give Hioki the next title shot at Jose Aldo since he’s easily the most compelling opponent for the champion.
Anthony Pettis def. Joe Lauzon: There wasn’t much to this fight. They had a feeling out process and then Pettis kicked Lauzon flush on the chin and possibly broke his jaw in the process. This was the kind of stuff we expected from Pettis when the WEC merged with the UFC. I have to give some blame to Lauzon though as he should have had his hands up to block the kick. Instead he tried to block a kick to the body, but Pettis went high and we saw the end result. Now Pettis is possibly in line for a title shot, which I wouldn’t mind since it would be a great fight, but I still think it should go to Edgar.