For the first time in more than a decade, the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion will return to the Land of the Rising Sun.
UFC 144 on Saturday features a five-round lightweight title bout between champion Frankie Edgar and the surging Ben Henderson at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Many have already pegged it as a potential “Fight of the Year” candidate.
Sherdog.com caught up with a number of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC 144 headliner:
Ben Askren: I got Edgar. I am not really sure how, but he always gets the job done.
Jim Miller: I think Frankie’s got better wrestling and better hands. If Ben is able to take him down, I think Frankie’s going to pop right back up and get back to doing what he does and just outwork him. It’s going to be a tough fight; can’t count Ben out. He’s a tough guy, very athletic, comes in good shape, he’s got good striking and he’s got good subs, but I don’t think they’re good enough to beat Frankie.
Zach Makovsky: I really think Henderson is a very tough matchup for Frankie, but how can you bet against the toughest, most determined guy in the sport? Edgar wins by decision.
Joe Duarte: After watching Edgar take out [Gray] Maynard twice, I have come to the realization that he does not get tired. I got Edgar taking this five-round affair, even though Henderson has a head of hair that would make Troy Polamalu jealous.
Keith Berry: If you follow my picks, you know by now I kinda suck (laughs), but I speak from the heart. I’m saying Ben wins by decision.
Benji Radach: Wow, what a kick-ass fight this will be. I’m gonna pull for Henderson. Got to train with the kid this summer and had a blast. I think his athleticism is going to pull through on this one.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: To be honest, I lost a lot of interest in the 155-pound division since B.J. Penn lost to Edgar twice. I liked watching B.J. fight because he did not play a point game and came to finish people. I still think B.J. is the best fighter at 155. Henderson keeps winning and quietly is becoming one of the best lightweights. I think he poses some interesting problems for Edgar, particularly size and grappling ability. He has won some fights I did not see him winning in the past. I have not been impressed with his striking up until this point, and I think that is where Edgar wins this fight. I think Edgar is just a bit more developed as an MMA fighter and will use his quickness and hand combos to score points to take the decision.
Joseph Sandoval: I’m gonna go for Henderson on this one. Ben has been an absolute beast since the shift from the WEC. I think his pressure and striking will make for a great fight with Edgar. I got Henderson taking it in a unanimous decision.
Jeff Hougland: Well, it’s really hard to go against Edgar. The guy is just an amazing fighter, but I’m going to pick Henderson by
decision or possibly a guillotine choke.
Kyle Kingsbury: I like Henderson to get the upset but would never bet against Edgar, so I basically have no idea.
Travis Wiuff: Edgar is too good right now. His experience in big fights will play a big factor. Edgar wins by third-round stoppage.
Ricardo Liborio: I see Edgar having a small advantage in striking. I go with Edgar by decision.
John Gunderson: This is a great fight between two top-notch athletes. I have to go with Frankie, though, because of his big-fight experience, speed and also who he’s beaten in the last few years. But you can’t count Henderson out because he comes forward non-stop and has the grappling to slow things down and wear on Frankie.
Mark Bocek: I think Henderson wins by decision. He’s bigger and stronger and won’t gas.
Jacob Volkmann: I will give it to Ben by unanimous decision.
Nam Phan: Ben is a beast, but I’m gonna have to go with Frankie on this one.
Johny Hendricks: I got Edgar winning by decision.
Erik Paulson: Wow, what a size difference between these two. Frankie is gonna really have to use his footwork, implementing overhands, hooks and uppercuts, and get that takedown. Ben needs to stay long and be super fast to try to snipe him as he’s coming in. On the ground, Ben can possibly get a triangle from the guard because of his long legs. In the end, I’m gonna take the taller of the two.
Jason Dent: I’ll take Edgar by TKO in round four.
Pros Picking Edgar: 11
Pros Picking Henderson: 7
No Pick: 1
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