MANILA, Philippines – Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Benson "Smooth" Henderson successfully defended his title for the first time against former beltholder Frankie "The Answer" Edgar in a closely fought battle at UFC 150 in Denver Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
|Benson Henderson (L) fights Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 150.
Much like their first meeting at UFC 144 in Japan, the rematch ended in controversial fashion with Henderson retaining the title via split decision.
The judges scored it 46-49, 48-47, and 48-47.
"I was a little bit confused with the scoring on that one," Henderson said, referring to the first score. "You know, the judge has his point of view, and it was close so it is what it is."
Henderson was the aggressor in the opening rounds, repeatedly targeting Edgar's lower leg with damaging kicks. By the middle of the first round, Edgar's calf was visibly red and swelling, though the former champion shook off the damage.
Edgar even managed to take down Henderson towards the end of round one, but Henderson countered by slipping a guillotine choke, which Edgar weathered in the final seconds.
Edgar bounced back in the second round, as he started to catch Henderson’s kicks while at the same time using his superior handspeed to tag the champion with punches to the head. He had Henderson in trouble towards the middle of the second round when he landed a huge right hand that sent "Smooth" down to the canvas.
The last three rounds proved to be even closer than the first two, with the fighters taking turns controlling the action.
Edgar was more active and aggressive, using his jab to push forward against Henderson and often ducking under the champion's jabs to unleash attacks to the body.
But Henderson also landed several significant strikes, often using his superior kicks to target Edgar's leg and body.
Henderson was told by his corner going into the fifth round that the bout was too close for comfort, but the defending champion was unable to get any separation in the final round as Edgar continued his aggressive attack.
"Of course, you're always concerned when it goes to a decision,"” Henderson said after the fight. "You know, Frankie's tough. We all know how tough Frankie is. He always brings it in rematches."
Edgar, who threw his cap to the canvas when the decision was announced, seemed too disappointed to talk about the fight.
"I thought I brought it to him. It doesn't matter," Edgar said, brushing off the questions of UFC's Joe Rogan.
It was the first time that Edgar had lost a rematch. He has now lost two straight bouts, with both losses coming to Henderson.
Meanwhile, the co-main event saw a wild bout between lightweight contenders Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Melvin "The Young Assassin" Guillard.
Guillard got Cerrone in trouble very early into the fight when he caught "Cowboy" with a monster of a counter left hook, sending Cerrone down to the canvas.
Guillard tried to end the fight then, catching Cerrone with a couple of knees but Cerrone was able to survive the onslaught.
The tide quickly turned when towards the latter part of the round, Cerrone threw a leg kick that clipped Guillard, clearly dazing the other fighter. Cerrone went for a knockout, throwing a right hand that knocked Guillard out cold.
Cerrone was awarded $60,000 for earning "Knockout of the Night" honors, and both Cerrone and Guillard got $60,000 each for putting on the "Fight of the Night."