Saturday, February 25, 2012

UFC 144 (Japan): Edgar vs. Henderson preview

The lightweight division is MMA's deepest by far.

It's clear that the winner of tonight's UFC Lightweight Championship bout between champion Frankie Edgar (14-1-1) and challenger Benson Henderson (15-2) is at the top.

But who is behind them? That remains to be seen.

For now though, let's look at the match in question.

The stand-up in this fight is going to be spectacular. The Tae Kwon Do of Bendo and the boxing of Edgar will make for a fun battle. However, if this goes to the ground, I have to favor Bendo's ground game over the champ's.

This is truly a lightweight fight worthy of the Japanese MMA audience, and they will definitely appreciate this match.

Neither man will easily give in, nor will they burn out. I expect Henderson to win the title via decision in a possible match of the year candidate.

Light Heavyweight bout: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson v. Ryan Bader

Rampage will have a huge fanbase here thanks to his time in PRIDE, but he did show up six pounds overweight

I think he'll still be a threat, but it's certainly a concern that he couldn't hold up his end of the bargain. Both of these men are good wrestlers, but I'll take Rampage by KO in Round 1. I will note that if this fight goes longer, it favors Bader, as he is if full fight condition.

Heavyweight bout: Chieck Kongo v. Mark Hunt

This is a clash of two guys yearning for respectability through this fight. Both men could get back into the high-eschelon discussion by beating the other.

I am expecting a good match, and I will lean toward Kongo winning by KO in Round 2.

Rest of the Card:

Welterweights: Yoshihiro Akiyama v. Jake Shields - Akiyama's 170 lb. debut will be derailed by a resilient Shields by decision

Middleweights: Yushin Okami v. Tim Boetsch - Okami regains his focus and picks up the decision by keeping it standing.

Featherweights: Hatsu Hioki v. Bart Palaszewski - In his home nation, I'll give Hioki the edge and the submission victory in Round 3.

Lightweights: Anthony Pettis v. Joe Lauzon - This is an opener worthy of Japan. I'll give Pettis the decision here.

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