Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thoughts on UFC 144: PLEASE let Bendo-Pettis II happen!

In a fight that went exactly how I thought it would, Benson Henderson's wide repertoire nipped past Frankie Edgar, allowing him to claim the UFC Lightweight World Championship.

It was a fight absolutely deserving of the company's first trip to Japan in more than a decade and while many people are arguing the result of the fight, I am not one of them.

My scorecard had Bendo winning 49-46, though I could see maybe two rounds where the argument could be made for Edgar. I think those rounds were definitive enough for Bendo, but Edgar's catching of Bendo's kicks could certainly make a person think twice.

Now, I wouldn't be opposed to Edgar getting an immediate rematch. He had to give out two immediate rematches in his title reign - one to former champ BJ Penn and the other to Gray Maynard. His loss was less definitive than Penn's, so I can definitely see why he has a claim to the next shot.

However, my vote goes to the man who won the opening bout of the main card via super-roundhouse to the head: Anthony "Showtime" Pettis.

A lot of people are using the argument that this would be a better, more marketable fight. That's true, but not why I'd make the call to give him the shot.

Pettis earned a UFC title shot once before. On the final night of WEC's storied history, Pettis landed the now-famous Showtime Kick to defeat the then-WEC Lightweight Champion, Benson Henderson.

This kick is what gets everyone's attention, but what people seem to have forgotten is that he was the No. 1 contender for the UFC World Championship.

His title shot was taken away when Edgar and Maynard fought to a draw. He would have waited until the rematch had taken place, but the two then managed to get themselves injured. The title wasn't contested until nine months after their January bout, and 10 months after Pettis earned his shot.

Pettis, not wanting to be one of those fighters who just waits around for a title shot (Rashad Evans, I'm looking at you!) took on the Fightin' Caveman himself, Clay Guida. Rather than provide excitement, Guida lay-and-prayed, which stole two rounds and got him the win over Pettis.

Pettis fought for the fans and had his chance at a unification bout taken away because of it. Once again, an amazing kick of his has put him in a position to receive a title match. Moreover, he and Bendo could have the match done sooner than Edgar, who will need his face to heal before another crack at the belt.

Edgar shouldn't need another match for a title shot, but he should wait for Pettis to finally get his chance. That match could be done before summer, and Edgar could have his shot by the end of the summer or early fall potentially.

If it becomes too long, then he can take one more fight if he wants, but Pettis has earned this just as much as he has, and I would like Pettis to have a chance to take a title off of Bendo for a second time.

As to Edgar dropping to featherweight, I would like to see that, but not now. Edgar retained the lightweight title three times in his reign, and many think he won his fourth defense of the title. Why on earth should he drop now?

If he falls out of the title picture, that's one thing. But he has a title shot coming in his next one or two fights if he stays. I say he should keep fighting at 155 until he's out of immediate contention. At that point, I would love to see him go for the title at 145.

Besides, after Hatsu Hioki's win at the PPV, I think he takes precedence in terms of Jose Aldo's title contenders.

Overall, I went 4-3 on my picks and advance to 26-17 on the year.

This week I have two events to make picks on: UFC on FX 2 in Australia and the Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey card. Stay tuned!

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