By Joshua Carey:
The UFC has made its way to Japan for UFC 144, where lightweight champion Frankie Edgar defends against Benson Henderson in the night’s headliner.
Japan’s Saitama Super Arena plays host to the 12-fight event, which airs live on pay-per-view at 10:00 pm ET with seven-fights slated for the main card.
If Edgar is successful in defending his championship, he’ll also collect his tenth victory inside the Octagon but it certainly won’t come easy.
After successfully avenging his lone career loss to Gray Maynard this past October at UFC 136, Edgar was assigned Henderson, who’s been nothing short of impressive since entering the organization.
Henderson made his way to the UFC after the WEC closed up shop and he’s undefeated in the sport’s premier organization.
With dominant victories over Mark Bocek and top-10 lightweights Jim Miller and Clay Guida in 2011, Henderson earned the opportunity to face Edgar.
The questions will all be answered tonight as to whether Edgar’s “Rocky” type story will move forward or is Henderson fully equipped to start a championship run of his own.
BJPenn.com gathered insight from some of the sport’s knowledgeable coaches and talented fighters.
Travis Browne – UFC Heavyweight
“I think this is one of the hardest fights to pick. I feel that Edgar will win. Edgar has shown that he can wrestle with the bigger lightweights and has some of the best hands in that division. Not to mention his heart, the most heart I’ve seen in a fight.
“You can’t count out Henderson tho, he’s got mad skill and some heart of his own. It’s going to be a great fight!”
Gustavo Pugliese – Team Quest
“It’s going to be a good fight to watch. Both guys put a show every time the are in action. Ben comes from 3 straight wins against very good competition. He has good stand-up and great take-down defense. Most of his wins come from submissions. He is a great # 1 contender.
“Edgar can just use his stick-and-move approach to set up even a TKO victory. He has cardio for days and Ben has showed some cardio problems before. I just don’t see Ben dealing with Edgar’s speed and intensity. Even if Ben catches him with something, there is no quiting in Edgar’s game.”
Justin McCully – UFC vet and RFA Heavyweight
“I think this could the guy with fast enough legs to keep up with Frankie. Insuring an amazing contest. I feel if Frankie wins this, hater’s can say nothing more!
“(If) Benson wins, there goes a tornado of a shakeup that division could use! I think Edgar the edge!”
Michael Giovanni Rivera – Giovanni Training and Team Punishment
“I take Henderson. He has been on a terror lately showing a all around MMA background and skill capable of winning any way. Even though Edgar is the current champ and well rounded, Henderson will take it tonight.”
Ed Buckley – Team Quest
“Henderson and Edgar come to fight and this could be fight of the night. Too early in the year to give them fight of the year. Henderson’s submission defense is second to none, but then again he always puts himself in those positions. Edgar will not stay on the ground for long and will keep the fight standing. Edgar is technically a much better striker than Henderson will stay much more calm and tighter in the pocket.
“Henderson will bounce around a lot and I feel will waste a lot of energy doing so. This will be a war of striking and conditioning going into the 4th and 5th round. So if this fight stays on its feet I have Edgar pulling out a decision.”
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