UFC 144 Recap: Benson Henderson leaves Japan as the new UFC Lightweight Champion

022612henderson3The odds for UFC 144’s main event had Frankie Edgar as the slight favorite, but that may have been a bit of a sentimental pick, because on paper it looked like Benson Henderson was the better fighter. However after betting against Edgar for so long and coming up wrong it looked like he had finally convinced many that he was the real deal.

That’s not to say that Edgar is not the real deal, it was just that tonight Edgar’s “heart of a champion” just wasn’t enough to overcome the skill, strength and shear size of Benson Henderson, who became the new UFC Lightweight Champion in Japan.

Questions after seeing Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson:

-What’s next?  This is a difficult question. Does Frankie Edgar deserve a rematch? Yes, he probably does. Does Anthony Pettis deserve a shot at Benson Henderson’s crown? Yes, he probably does.  Should Edgar drop to Featherweight and challenge Jose Aldo for that title? Again, this is something that is not out of the question. The fighters and the UFC management team have a lot to ponder after this one, but the reality is no matter what decision they make to the above questions, the fans will be the winners.

READ MORE:  Khabib Nurmagomedov once again shuts down rumors of a return to the Octagon: 'I will never change this'

-Was the fight scored correctly? As soon as any big name fight ends in a decision there are many that question if the scoring was correct. This fight was no different. I don’t know if you’ll find many that think that Frankie Edgar was robbed of a win, but you will probably find some that thought the scoring was closer than what was announced. 

Questions Following UFC 144:

-Will there be a better card during 2012?  Selfishly I really hope there is a better card, but the reality is that this one will be hard to top. The first fight of the night was an amazing 32-second KO and it never really let up for the entire evening.  Add to that fact that the UFC seemed moving things along like they had rented the arena by the minute and their was hardly any let up, it was fight after fight after fight. It was an incredible card and one that should go a long way toward establishing the UFC as a legitimate force in Japan.

-What’s next for Tim Boetsch? Boetsch showed every fighter that ever found themselves down two rounds to none, what can be accomplished with a solid chin, strong punching and a little touch of crazy. Boetsch was down when the third round began, but he threw caution to the wind and did what more fighters should do when backed into the corner, he fought his way out with abandon and KO’d Yushin Okami.  He may not be title shot material at 185 but he sure looks like he could play spoiler.

READ MORE:  Ryan Garcia makes bold claim in bid to fight UFC bantamweight champ Sean O'Malley in the Octagon

-Can we finally stop harping on the Showtime kick? Was the kick that Anthony Pettis delivered in his WEC title bout against Benson Henderson memorable? Yes it was, but Pettis was and is more than that kick and he showed that at UFC 144 when he stopped Joe Lauzon with a perfectly placed head kick at 1:21 of Round One.

-Is Mark Hunt the most powerful striker in the Heavyweight division? That question is debatable, but there is a way to end that debate, put him in the Octagon against another heavy-handed heavyweight. 

LowKick.com UFC 144 Main Card Awards:

Fight of the Night: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson.  A lesser fighter may have mailed it in when their nose exploded and their eye swelled shut. A lesser fighter may have opted to tap when their opponent clamped on a guillotine choke that stretched their neck in an unnatural manner. Frankie Edgar is not a lesser fighter nor was his opponent Benson Henderson.  One of the better fights of 2012 and a definite candidate for Fight of the Year

READ MORE:  Jorge Masvidal offers to meet ex-UFC star Nate Diaz in street fight rematch: 'Just meet up face to face'

Performance of the Night: Tim Boetsch. In a fight where he could have easily packed it in, he came out in the final round looking to end things and he did.  There was no way he was winning if his fight against Yushin Okami went to the cards, so he avoided that, knocking Okami out less than a minute into the final stanza.

 Finish of the Night: Anthony Pettis: He put his shin right onto the jaw off Joe Lauzon and dropped him to his back. The punches that he threw after that were not needed as there was no way Lauzon was getting up. The Showtime kick, forget about that one, remember this one.

Further Reading: UFC 144: Ben Henderson dethrones Frankie Edgar in Japan

Photo: Tracy Lee for YahooSports