By Anthony Springer Jr.
At UFC 1, there was no guarantee that size would be an advantage. In fact, it was routinely proved to not matter at all, as a south of 200-pounds Royce Gracie showed the world how dominant Brazilian Jiu-jitsu could be. Gracie dominated three opponents that night—all of them larger men (the ridiculousness of Art Jimmerson entering the Octagon with one boxing glove elicits laughter to this day).
At UFC 150, things have changed.
When Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson step on the scale for the sequel of their five-round title tit on Saturday, both will weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 155-pounds.
On fight night, things will hardly be equal.
Henderson will be the larger man come fight night and while Edgar has bested larger opponents before (see, Maynard, Gray), Henderson is another beast entirely. In the modern era of MMA, where athletes enter fights with similar skill sets, the larger man usually wins.
This is the reason Benson Henderson will retain the title come Saturday night.
It’s never wise to count out Frankie Edgar. After two gutsy performances against Gray Maynard, Edgar showed the world that he’s tough as nails, can go the distance and come out on top.
Henderson is just as tough, can also go the distance and isn’t likely to tire like Maynard.
An up-kick that broke the former champion’s nose was the game-changer in the first bout.
While Edgar may have the advantage in the early rounds when he’s at his fastest, Henderson will be too strong and too aggressive down the stretch. The champion should retain his title on the back of strong wrestling.
Winner: Henderson via decision
Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman
Ed Herman is seeing a career resurrection. After recovering from injury, “Short Fuse” is on a three-fight win streak with all three of those ending in finishes (one TKO, two submissions). Despite these odds, his bout with Jake Shields is the night’s most intriguing battle and truly a toss-up affair.
You’d have better luck flipping a coin than making a well-reasoned analysis on this one. But ending this article after the last sentence wouldn’t be any fun, so here’s my well-reasoned analysis:
This is Jake Shields’ fight to lose.
Theoretically, a move up to middleweight should be good for Shields. Which Jake Shields shows up on fight night is another matter entirely. His debut UFC bout with Martin Kampmann was, for all intents and purposes, a disaster. A highly touted prospect, Shields gassed early in the first round and ran on fumes en route to a split decision victory (which is either a testament to how good Shields was or how bad Kampmann was that night). He came within one round of dethroning injured welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in a bout that was just slightly less awful than the Kampmann fight and was steamrolled by Jake Ellenberger in September 2011. The Ellenberger loss was the first time Shields had been finished in seven years—and take nothing away from Ellenberger but Shields father passed away just weeks before. A victory over Yoshihiro Akiyama hardly made Shields look like a world beater, Shields is capable of beating anyone on any given day.
To win, Herman is going to have to stay away from Shields for fifteen minutes and pick him apart on the feet. With Shields, that’s no easy task. While he doesn’t boast a powerful double leg or even a single leg to be feared, he usually finds a way to drag his opponents to the mat. At 185-pounds, Shields should be a bit stronger and once that fight hits the mat, Shields should get the finish or ride a wave to a decision.
Winner: Shields via decision
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Coming up next: UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar II is LIVE on Pay-Per-View August 11 from the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo. at 7 pm PT/10 pm ET. For more info on UFC 150 or the UFC, visit www.UFC.com.