UFC 144 Predictions: Edgar vs. Henderson Betting Odds
by Scott Johnson - 2/20/2012
Saturday the UFC returns Japan for the first time since UFC 29: Defense of the Belts. Just like its predecessor, UFC 144: Edgar vs Henderson will feature a UFC title fight as the lightweight champion Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar (-130, all lines from Bovada) defends his title against the challenger Ben ‘Smooth’ Henderson (EVEN).
The champ is fresh off a knockout victory over Gray Maynard and with the win Edgar concluded a near two-year period where the lightweight title was tied up in a series of fights between Edgar, Maynard and former champ B.J. Penn. During his title run, Edgar has defied the odds with oddsmakers making him the underdog in three of the four matchups. And at UFC 144 not much has changed with the champ only a slight betting favorite.
Henderson failed in his first opportunity to procure a UFC title shot when he was defeated in his final defence of the WEC lightweight championship by Anthony Pettis. Since that fight Ben has torn through the UFC competition with consecutive wins over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and, finally, Clay Guida to solidify his spot at UFC 144.
Physically, Henderson will be the larger fighter, but it has been well documented that Frankie cuts a minimal amount of weight, which positively impacts his conditioning. Both fighters have excellent cardio with a combined record of 13-2 in decisions, along with championship round experience.
Edgar has fantastic boxing skills; along with his speed, he has excellent foot and head movement, he attacks from a variety of angles, and constantly mixes up his combinations. He has outstanding lateral movement, maintaining a distance that he is comfortable with while his opponent is forced to close the distance, resulting in avoiding 74 percent of attempted strikes. Maynard was able to hurt Edgar in both fights, when Gray timed Frankie’s forward push, but outside of these two occurrences Frankie avoided the majority of Gray’s offense.
One of the keys to Henderson’s striking is that he steps into everything, which shortens the distance and increases his success rate. He lands almost 50 percent of his strikes. He leads with a long snappy jab often thrown in multiples followed with a quick right hand and he uses hard low and body kicks. On the negative side, Ben allowed Anthony Pettis to set the pace by being the aggressor in the exchanges and Henderson has shown a vulnerability to a right hand. this could be an issue with the way Edgar is able to set his up.
On the ground both are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belts. Henderson’s submission defense is unbelievable and he has a crushing guillotine. Edgar’s takedown accuracy isn’t exceptional at 36 percent compared to Benson’s 48 percent, but Frankie was able to take both Gray and BJ Penn down, which is impressive.
Frankie’s takedowns are the product of his quickness and ability to disguise them with his strikes while Henderson uses a combination of strength and technique. Edgar has an excellent clinch game, punishing his opponent with knees and elbows, before either dropping for a single leg or using double underhooks and he combines both techniques with a trip.
When on top, Henderson’s strength and flexibility make him difficult to shake off. He controls his opponent while dropping devastating strikes, and he has done this against talented ground fighters like Mark Bocek and Jim Miller.
Frankie is almost untouchable when he is navigating the outer range of the cage, but in the first Maynard fight Gray used his takedowns to nullify Frankie’s speed and Henderson should look to do the same. Edgar’s normal advantages of speed and cardio will be matched and Henderson is the physically stronger fighter. Look for Henderson to cut off the cage, use the clinch to take Frankie down and punish him on the ground for the duration of the bout resulting in Ben Henderson becoming the new UFC lightweight champion.
With the betting odds so close, Ben Henderson doesn’t have the usual return that most main event underdogs do. Doubling your money is never a bad thing, but as Fight Night draws closer keep your eye out for a couple of prop bets. A bet on this matchup for Fight of the Night is a possibility, but be careful as the Anthony Pettis/Joe Lauzon fight could be a show stealer. Both fighters are durable with a combined 16 decisions indicating that a bet on the round total going ‘over’ should also be given consideration.
UFC 144’s main event as the potential to be a classic and the rest of the card is full of exciting matchups and lucrative betting possibilities. Make sure you check the rest of the UFC 144 predictions here at Doc’s Sports and enjoy the fights.
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