Commentary

Reaction to the Bendo-Edgar fallout

Originally Published: August 13, 2012
By Josh Gross | ESPN.com

Reaction tweets poured in Saturday night after I mentioned Frankie Edgar would return to the top of my lightweight rankings. We'll get to a few of them shortly. First, more on the New Jersey tough guy leapfrogging Benson Henderson -- despite consecutive defeats to the man.

I picked Henderson to retain the title. I thought his physical advantages would prove difficult for Edgar to overcome. I also thought the experience of February's 25-minute rumble would benefit a maturing fighter more than someone who's been put through a grinder again and again.

But that didn't materialize, at least not from my seat. Based on everything I've seen since fight night, I'm right there with many of you. Edgar outlanded Henderson. He was the better grappler, too.

When Henderson asserted himself, he showed flashes of the guy who worked hard over five rounds in Tokyo. Saturday's effort didn't exude a similar urgency, especially when it could have been very possible that he was down heading into Round 4. He was as close to tentative as one can get without actually qualifying. It was an odd display; impressive enough, though, for two judges sitting cageside.

Bottom line on this deal (which isn't much of one, just my opinion here): I don't think the current UFC champion is better than the former one. Based on other results, Edgar's track record at 155 is more impressive than Henderson's. So, there's my thinking on it.

I'm generally mindful of avoiding the word "robbery," and I don't believe it applies to Saturday's fight, which was competitive. Rounds were close. But the wrong guy won.

@MMAforMoney: "So basically, you're in agreement with me that Ben Henderson is just a paper champ?"

I wouldn't say that. Henderson earned the belt and respect for beating Edgar the first time. Interim titles are paper titles. Henderson won his in the cage. Even though he retained it with the help of the judges, the belt still holds significance.

[+] EnlargeNate Diaz
Courtesy Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com Nate Diaz, left, might prove to be an even tougher challenge to Benson Henderson than Frankie Edgar was.

@TimW001: "If you were to judge Frankie/Bendo II as a whole fight and not Rd by Rd, who would you have winning?"

Pride style? Edgar. He was more aggressive. He hurt Henderson. He went after subs. Any way you slice it, I saw it for "The Answer."

‏@modernsportscar: "Emotional decision. He is not best lightweight in the world."

Emotional! Is he the best featherweight then? Curious what this result means as far as Edgar moving to 145.

@soxbolt: "No problem w/ decision. Seen far bigger judging debacles. Anybody acting like this is an outrage needs to check themselves."

Agreed.

@ptw79: "Frankie won, but whatever. Nate Diaz will smash [Henderson]. Think Diaz is actually a worse matchup for Henderson.

If Henderson doesn't assert himself physically against Diaz, he could be in for a real fight. I'm with you: Diaz is a worse matchup for "Smooth" than Edgar. I can see Diaz's length and punching output presenting major problems for the current champ.

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