Ben Henderson is your new UFC lightweight champion after outpointing Frankie Edgar over five rounds in an extremely competitive fight.
Edgar was as busy as ever on his feet in the opening round and was also showing remarkable reactions as he caught virtually ever leg kick Henderson threw during the five minute spell.
The first time he did so almost cost him though as Henderson hopped on one leg and then leapt up and attempted a head kick with the other, though Edgar just managed to duck under it.
Despite clearly being the smaller man Edgar also did well to shove Henderson to the mat a couple of times and also secured a momentary takedown later in the round.
At no stage did he really hurt Henderson though and while ‘Smooth’ wasn’t able to keep up with the speed and frequency of Edgar’s attacks he did manage to leave Edgar’s left eye a little swollen by the end of the round.
Much of the second round played out the same way with Edgar’s terrific use of angles and movement allowing him to hit and yet not be hit many times over during the round.
His wrestling was also coming into play, allowing him to secure a swift takedown mid-way through the round that Henderson quickly got up from, and then another in the closing minute which he managed to secure top control from.
This was a good position for him and it looked as if he was going to ride out the rest of the round on top, but Henderson had other ideas and as Edgar postured up and looked to land a strike he landed an upkick directly to Edgar’s nose which dropped him.
Henderson then reversed the positon, ending up on top, but the bell stopped him from taking advantage of the position. Nonetheless as Edgar rose it was clear that his nose was badly damaged and bleeding heavily making this a pivotal point in the fight.
As we’ve seen in both Edgar’s fights with Gray Maynard he has the heart of a champion and so he stepped into the third round ready to go despite a now badly swollen left eye and a potentially broken nose.
He’s still looking mobile, but Henderson, surely heartened by the damage he’s caused to his opponent is starting to find his range more in the stand-up exchanges.
Edgar did secure a good takedown late in the round which will have scored points on the judges scorecards, but overall this was a better showing from Henderson.
The fourth round was close again on the feet, but the most notable moment came when Edgar swooped for another takedown and completed it successfully, but found himself trapped in a deep guillotine attempt from Henderson.
It looked really tight, but Edgar stayed calm and after some anxious moments he was able to break free. The remainder of the round was fought on the feet and as was now becoming the norm Edgar was landing with more frequency, but Henderson was landing with more force.
Final round and again it’s extremely competitive stuff as the two slug it out on the feet.
For Edgar his biggest moment came when he appeared to drop Henderson with a right hand, though the challengers didn’t seem too dazed by it.
In retaliation Henderson landed a jumping knee to Edgar’s face in the final moments that staggered the champion and he then flipped him onto his back as the bell sounded.
Overall this was an extremely close fight and it’s a tough one for the judges to make sense of. In the end they see it clearly for one fighter though, and we have a new lightweight champion, Ben Henderson (49-46 x2, 48-47).