Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar The headliner for UFC 150 resulted in yet another controversial decision in a lightweight title fight. This time, Ben Henderson retained the title in a split decision where two judges.
Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar
The headliner for UFC 150 resulted in yet another controversial decision in a lightweight title fight. This time, Ben Henderson retained the title in a split decision where two judges scored the fight 48-47 for Henderson and one score it 49-46 for Edgar. Edgar was upset with the decision after the fight and the internet consensus has Edgar winning the fight. I scored the fight 48-47 for Edgar but I don’t have a problem with the outcome at all and I don’t think saying that Edgar was “robbed” is an accurate assessment as many are claiming.
Henderson clearly won the first round and everyone is in agreement on that. He employed the unique strategy of attacking Edgar’s calf with kicks to slow the contender’s movement and had great success in doing so. Edgar’s calf was swollen and bruised by the end of the round. The former champion came back in the second round and evened up the scoring by knocking Henderson down with a clean right hand and then trying to finish with a front guillotine. The scoring on this round is also not in doubt but starting with the third round, judging became absurdly subjective. The final three rounds were some of the most difficult to score in any recent fight. Both fighters landed at various times but neither landed anything significant. Edgar seemed to be moving forward and bringing the fight to Henderson but compustrike showed that Henderson outlanded Edgar in significant strikes. On the other hand, Edgar won the takedown battle. Add that up and you get a judging nightmare. Boxing has long had an unwritten rule that the champion gets the nod if the fight is too close to score and that may have been what happened in this fight.
Scoring aside, Henderson leaves this fight as the champion and he will fight Nate Diaz next. Diaz has patiently been awaiting his opportunity and he will be rewarded with a title shot as promised. For Edgar, the loss has to be gutting but he is still one of the best fighters in the division. A fight with either Donald Cerrone of Anthony Pettis would make sense and a win against either would likely catapult him right back into top contendership. And of course, an immediate title shot awaits him if he ever decides to drop to featherweight, which he could easily do.
Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard
In the clear fight of the night, Donald Cerrone came back from being hurt early to knockout Melvin Guillard. And the entire fight lasted seventy six seconds. In the opening exchange, Guillard landed a counter left hook to Cerrone’s jaw and dropped him. Guillard rushed forward and flurried for the finish as Cerrone backed up toward to the cage. But Guillard was unable to end the fight and backed up to reset. Almost immediately upon reentering the pocket, Cerrone landed a kick just above Guillard’s temple. As Guillard wobbled, Cerrone rushed in and landed a right hand that turned out Guillard’s lights for at least a minute. If I have ever have seventy six seconds to kill, I’m not sure I could think of a better way to spend it than rewatching this fight.
The loss is a set back for Guillard and his chances of getting back into the title picture seem unlikely at this point. Despite that, he is always one of the most entertaining fighters in the division and because of that, he will always have a place in the UFC. Cerrone has now won six of his seven fights in the UFC with his only loss coming to title contender Nate Diaz. The lightweight division is absurdly stacked but he deserves to be on the fighters at the top of the stack. He, Anthony Pettis and Frankie Edgar seem to be the top three fighters outside of the champion Ben Henderson and Diaz. Hopefully, Cerrone will face either Pettis or Edgar in his next fight and either one of those fights would be guaranteed fireworks.
Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman
Jake Shields impressed no one by grinding out another unimpressive decision over Ed Herman. Herman actually won the first round by pushing Shields against the fence and controlling position. He never threatened the former Strikeforce champion but he did enough to win the round. That strategy came back to bite him in the second round as Shields used the clinch against the cage to score a takedown and controlled Herman from top position for the remainder of the round. He landed no significant strikes and his most threatening attack of the round was a weak kimura attempt. Herman learned from his mistake in the second round and came out looking to keep his distance and strike with Shields in the third round. But Shields managed to close the distance and repeated his performance from the previous round to earn the decision.
Ed Herman is basically the same fighter he’s always been. He has some dangerous submissions but lacks a striking game to support his grappling. Against the right opponent, he can provide exciting fights but he doesn’t present much of a threat at 185 lbs. Shields continues to be a bit of an enigma since coming to the UFC. He defeated Dan Henderson and that can’t be ignored but he also struggled with Ed Herman, which is not the mark of a great fighter. I don’t think the UFC can justify giving him a top tier fighter after that performance but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him matched with Yushin Okami after they both earned victories at UFC 150.
Yushin Okami vs. Buddy Roberts
This fight was a much of a mismatch in the cage as it was on paper. Roberts managed to land a few punches early in the first round but once Okami decided to take the fight to the ground, it was over. Roberts seemed to know that his only chance was to score a knockout and threw wild power shots at Okami through the early part of the first round. He landed a few but Okami was never in danger. Eventually, Okami tired of the striking and clinched with Roberts. From there, he dragged him to the mat and quickly passed to mount. Roberts gave up his back and Okami used the position to ground and pound Roberts who seemed ready to give up before the bell sounded. The second round was similar except that Okami didn’t wait to clinch and drag Roberts to the mat. Instead, he did it early in the round and once again ended up back mounted on Roberts throwing punches. Roberts seemed to accept his fate and covered up waiting for the fight to be stopped, which it was.
Roberts clearly doesn’t have what it takes to compete at the top of the division and is a middling middleweight at best. But Okami needed a fight like this to prove that he is still a dominant fighter. A loss to the best pound for pound fighter in the world followed by a crazy knockout loss in a fight he was dominating don’t mean that Okami is done. He deserves to be competing at the top of the division and should get a contender in his next fight.
Max Holloway vs. Justin Lawrence
UFC 150 started with an excellent striking display by Max Holloway and Justin Lawrence. In the first round, Lawrence landed the majority of the power strikes. He spent the round head hunting in search of the knockout. He managed to land a couple of clean punches but never seemed to have Holloway in major trouble. Despite that, he definitely looked to be the more dangerous fighter. The second round began in similar fashion but Holloway showed why his brand of Muay Thai is the most dangerous standup attack in the sport. Despite Lawrence’s power, Holloway stuck to his technical approach and eventually scored the finish in true Muay Thai fashion. He landed a knee to the liver and followed it closely with a right to the body and a left hook to the liver. Clean punches to the chin aren’t the only way to end a fight and Holloway proved that by decimating Lawrence to the body. The liver shots rendered him unable to do anything other than curl up in a fetal position and Holloway pounced with a flurry to finish the fight. His performance was a tribute to trusting technique over power and should serve as a reminder to the rest of the MMA world as to how effective body work can be with four ounce gloves.
For Lawrence, the loss is a set back but he put on a good enough show to prove that he has a future in the sport. After only five career fights, he will certainly improve going forward and will likely be given a winnable fight in his next appearance. Holloway now has back to back wins and at just twenty years old, seems to have a bright future. If the UFC is smart, they will not rush him into fights against more experienced opponents and allow him to continue to work on his game against other young fighters. He is only in the UFC because he was able to step in as a last minute replacement against Dustin Poirier and he is not yet ready for the upper or even middle levels of the featherweight division. Hopefully, the UFC will be smart and give him another similarly inexperienced prospect in his fight and allow him to continue to grow.