Mixed Martial Arts is truly an international enterprise, and that truth will once again be showcased Saturday as UFC 144 is set to take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Situated in the Greater Tokyo Area, the venue has hosted countless events, including an event run by the Pride Fighting Championship in December 2007.
Pride and other organizations have conducted numerous events in Japan, so the sport of MMA is by no means a stranger to the Japanese public. An impressive night of fights is lined up for Saturday, with a main event that should be nothing but excitement. In the headlining bout of the eventing, Frankie Edgar will look to defend his lightweight title against his third challenger, Ben Henderson.
A former WEC champ, Henderson is hungry for bigger and better things – namely the UFC lightweight belt. Henderson is loaded with power and can stand with the best of strikers, but Edgar brings a quickness into the Octagon that has seldom been matched by any lightweight. Henderson may not be able to deal with the aggressive nature of Edgar’s boxing, so he will most likely look to utilize his strong wrestling and take the fight to the ground.
For Henderson, this ability to control the wrestling game proved advantageous in his victories over Clay Guida and Jim Miller. Instead of taking Frankie Edgar’s signature punches-in-bunches on the feet, Henderson may elect to forgo the striking game altogether. He may look for a decision victory or a submission by racking up take-downs and controlling the fight by maintaining good position on his opponent.
Edgar is the champion, and he may be one of the very few men who never gas-out in the octagon. With Edgar’s fast hands and wrestling, which can at the very least compete with Henderson’s, you can bet that it is going to be a tough and gritty fight for both men. Henderson brings a ton of momentum into the bout, and based on his hunger to claim the lightweight title, I expect him to win by decision.
My Official Prediction: Henderson by Decision