Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson: Who will win at UFC 144?

This Saturday, February 25, the UFC will head to Japan to present UFC 144. In the evening’s main event Frankie Edgar will defend his UFC Lightweight title against former WEC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson.

While the UFC’s Lightweight division may not be one of the “glamour” weightclasses, it is without a doubt one of, if not the, deepest weightclasses in the UFC and when the two top fighters in the division face off on Saturday it should be something to see.

Here’s a head to head look at those two fighters, Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson.

Cardio: 50-50

If you’ve witnessed the last four fights of Benson Henderson’s career you have seen a fighter that sets a relentless pace throughout. All four of those fights have gone the distance, including the five round WEC title bout against Anthony Pettis. In fact, Henderson has gone the distance twice in five rounders, losing to Pettis and defeating Donald Cerrone

Frankie Edgar is no slouch in the cardio department either, as his average fight time is tops in UFC history at 16:28 seconds. Going the distance in three consecutive UFC title fights will do this.

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This one’s a wash, but on the brightside the endless cardio of these two sets up the possibility the UFC 144 main event being one of the best fights of the year.

Wrestling: Edgar 60-40

Both fighters have a wrestling base, but Edgar’s background is stronger in this particular discipline and the fact that he remains active in wrestling at a high level with the Rutgers squad gives the Champion the nod on this one. That’s not to say that Henderson isn’t a strong wrestler, he is, just not as strong as Edgar.

Size: Henderson 70-30

This one goes to Henderson with ease. Edgar comes in at 5’ 6”, while Henderson comes in at 5’ 9”.  Edgar fights very close to his walking around weight, while Henderson cuts a fair amount to hit the 155-pound limit.  While the weight cutting can deplete stamina and strength that has not been a factor for Henderson in the past. The one thing that may come into play here is the weight cut on foreign soil.  If Henderson was not close to his ideal weight when he travelled overseas he may have to change his normal cutting plan as many fighters have struggled with their last minute cuts when they travel far from home. The availability of their normal sustenance may be an issue. It will be interesting to see how Henderson fares in this respect.

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Submissions: Henderson 70-30

Henderson is 15-2 in his MMA career with eight of those wins coming via submission. He’s also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has competed in various submission grappling tournaments. In addition he has some of the slickest submission defense in the UFC. Edgar is also a brown belt in BJJ, having three submissions to his name, two of which came in his second and third professional bouts. 

Striking: Henderson 65-35

Edgar is a wrestler first and as such his striking game is not as diverse as Henderson’s who can come at you from all angles with a variety of strikes.  Edgar’s strikes are functional, used to set up his wrestling skills, while Henderson’s attack is much more well-rounded.

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Intangibles: Edgar 70-30

While the numbers above would lead one to believe that Henderson has the advantage, it would be a mistake to leave this huge part of the equation out of the mix and that’s the fact that Frankie Edgar has no quit in him.  That’s not to say that Henderson does, but if you saw Edgar’s last two fights against Gray Maynard there were very few people who thought that Edgar was getting out of the first round, let alone taking the victory.  Edgar has the “it factor” in his favor the thing makes a champion a champion.

Further Reading: Frankie Edgar: Ben Henderson could be impossible to submit