The UFC returns to action tonight with a star laden card that will play itself out in front of raucous Japanese crowd. UFC 144 is scheduled to get underway at 10:00pm ET tonight at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo. Headlining this evening’s event are lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and top contender Benson Henderson. Also on the main card is a light heavyweight battle between former PRIDE mainstay Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and season eight Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Bader. The latest UFC Odds have Edgar listed as a -135 moneyline favorite in tonight’s main event.
Frankie Edgar may not look the part, but the Summit, New Jersey native has proven himself one of the most well rounded fighters in mixed martial arts. Edgar comes into tonight’s championship clash with a 14-1-1 record and three successful lightweight title defenses.
This evening’s fight will provide a change of pace for the diminutive 30 year old, though, as he has not faced anyone other than BJ Penn or Gray Maynard since squaring off against Matt Veach in December of 2009.
Following the Veach fight, which Edgar won via a second round submission, the current champ earned his first shot at Penn and the lightweight belt. Edgar entered the fight with Penn, who was coming off three successful title defenses, a heavy underdog, but, despite being out-struck 72 to 63, he secured a unanimous decision victory.
Less than five months later Edgar solidified his position with another unanimous decision win over Penn, only this time he out paced the Hawaiian legend 142 to 56 over the course of their five round battle.
Edgar’s second title defense came against Gray Maynard, the only fighter every to defeat “The Answer” in the Octagon. Edgar retained his title once again, but the fight with Maynard was ruled a draw. The pair met again last October and Edgar left no doubt that he was the more complete fighter as he scored a fourth round TKO against the former Michigan State wrestling star.
Benson Henderson, as evidenced by the odds, possesses the kind of skill set that could end Edgar’s impressive run. The Colorado native held the WEC’s lightweight title, which he successfully defended against Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone. Henderson lost the strap to Anthony Pettis, who is also on tonight’s card, just before the UFC absorbed the now defunct league, but that setback did not deter his progress inside the cage.
Since joining the UFC, Henderson, who shares a wrestling background with Edgar, has won three straight fights against top flight competition, defeating Mark Bocek, Jim Miller, and Clay Guida all via unanimous decision. The 28 year old enters tonight’s scarp with a 15-2 overall record; his only losses came against the aforementioned Pettis and Rocky Johnson (2007).
UFC 144 Prediction: While Henderson is a great fighter, I expect Edgar to retain his belt tonight. After Edgar survived what he did in the two meetings with Maynard it is difficult to envision anyone taking his title anytime soon.
UFC 144 Odds: Provided by Bovada.lv
Main Card -
Frankie Edgar (-135) vs Ben Henderson (+105)
Cheick Kongo (-300) vs Mark Hunt (+230)
Quinton Jackson (-210) vs Ryan Bader (+170)
Jake Shields (-300) vs Yoshihiro Akiyama (+230)
Yushin Okami (-450) vs Tim Boetsch (+300)
Hatsu Hoki (-170) vs Bart Palaszewski (+140)
Anthony Pettis (-240) vs Joe Lauzon (+190)
Preliminary Card -
Norifumi Yamamoto (-325) vs Vaughan Lee (+250)
Takanori Gomi (-225) vs Eiji Mitsuoka (+175)
Riki Fukuda (-300) vs Steve Cantwell (+230)
Takeya Mizugaki (-210) vs Chris Cariaso (+170)
Zhang Tiequan (-285) vs Issei Tamura (+225)