Despite retaining his UFC lightweight title Saturday night, Benson Henderson was not without regrets.
“I should have pushed [the pace] a lot more. I didn’t push it enough,” Henderson (Pictured, file photo) told Fox Sports of his headlining UFC 150 rematch with former titlist Frankie Edgar. “I thought I was doing enough to win the fight going into the fifth, but I knew the fifth was a crucial round. I should have pushed it a lot more, and I’m very disappointed in myself that I didn’t.”
Henderson and Edgar battled for 25 minutes at Pepsi Center in Denver, and Henderson once again walked away with a victory over “The Answer,” this time by split decision. The ex-WEC champ had previously bested Edgar at UFC 144 in February, taking the title in a unanimous verdict in Saitama, Japan.
In their first fight, both men were forced to deal with a long journey to Saitama Super Arena. On Saturday, they were confronted with a different challenge: the Mile High City’s notoriously thin air.
“I’m not too tired, really. The elevation here in Denver really wasn’t too bad,” Henderson said. “I did two-and-a-half weeks to end my camp in Flagstaff, Ariz. It’s 7,000 feet high, so it’s actually [almost] 2,000 feet above Denver. I felt great and felt like I should have pushed the pace a lot more like my coach was yelling at me to do.”
Henderson attacked effectively with leg kicks in the first frame but gradually moved away from the technique as the bout wore on, a decision that Henderson says came about due to Edgar’s adjustments in footwork.
“He was doing a good job of backing away and staying out of range,” said Henderson. “Those leg kicks, we game-planned to use those, to get him off-balance and then to capitalize right away. I wanted to pounce. I think I got him off-balance three times in the first round, and I hesitated. I squandered my chance to jump on him.”
Edgar evened the score in the second round, dropping Henderson with a sharp right hand midway through the frame. The following 15 minutes proved extremely competitive, with both Henderson and Edgar landing effective, if not devastating strikes. In the end, however, it was Henderson who received the nod, much to the disappointment of the former champion.
“Frankie is tough as heck, man. All his fights seem to be controversial,” said Henderson. “I think Frankie is just so good and so tough that if he loses or wins, everything is going to be controversial. Thankfully, [two of the three] guys who were judging the fight ringside had it in my favor.”
Henderson will next defend his title against new No. 1 contender Nate Diaz at a to-be-announced event.
“We haven’t really game planned for [Diaz] just yet. All our concentration definitely had to be on Frankie Edgar,” said Henderson. “Nate is tough. He’s a great fighter, and I’m a fan of his fighting style. I like how he brings it every time. That said, my coaches and I are going to put together a great game plan on how to beat him.”