Monday, 13 August 2012

UFC 150 Henderson vs Edgar II - TV Review

It’s time to step into the Octagon once again as we take a look back at the second battle between Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar at UFC 150, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on ESPN here in Britain.

The broadcast began in the featherweight division as Justin Lawrence took on Max Holloway.

This proved to be a very enjoyable battle. Lawrence began by showcasing his array of kicks, and from there this developed into a nice striking battle. Holloway connected with a left that opened Lawrence up, as well as connecting with a couple of unintentional kicks south of the border.

Holloway upped his game in the second round, and although Lawrence got in some good shots Holloway had his number. As the clock ticked away towards the end of the second round Holloway connected with a knee to the body, following it up with a body shot that sent Lawrence crashing.

Holloway followed him down for a spot of ground and pound before the referee stepped in to give him the TKO win.

The first of two middleweight fights saw Yushin Okami taking on Buddy Roberts. (Wasn’t he one of the Fabulous Freebirds?)

Roberts began his night’s work with some nice combinations, and his striking worried Okami enough that the Japanese fighter looked for a takedown. He was relentless in his attempt, eventually dragging Roberts down to the ground.

Okami’s work there wasn’t frantic but well thought out as he looked to change position, eventually taking the mount. Roberts quickly flipped over as he tried to escape but found himself on the receiving end of Okami’s ground and pound. But as the old saying goes Roberts was saved by the bell.

It was the same story in the second round. Roberts began well with his striking until Okami took the fight back to the ground. He quickly took the mount before taking Roberts’ back again, and with Roberts offering nothing in reply to Okami’s relentless right hand the referee stepped in to give Okami the TKO win.

The second middleweight encounter saw Jake Shields returning to the division to take on Ed Herman.

The first fight of the broadcast to go the distance proved to be a very interesting affair. Herman began with a couple of strikes but then, to the surprise of almost everyone, he instigated a clinch against the cage.

This was like giving water to a thirsty man as far as Shields was concerned. He went on to control the grappling game throughout the round, frustrating Herman as he looked for the finish.

It was more or less the same story in the second and third rounds. Shields almost locked in a kimura in the second, and that allied with his great ground work saw the former Strikeforce champion controlling the action.

But with neither man able to get the win it went down to the judges as Shields, unsurprisingly, took the unanimous decision. A shame that those in attendance booed the proceedings because it was a solid performance.

The penultimate fight featured catchweight action, fought at 157 pounds, between Donald Cerrone and Melvin Guillard.

This was originally meant to be a lightweight battle, but when Guillard failed to make weight he elected to forfeit a share of his purse instead of trying the shed the extra pounds in the two hours he was given.

This was quick. Guillard rocked his man early with a big left that sent Cerrone down. The Cowboy got back to his feet as Guillard went in for the kill, but then he backed off, giving Cerrone time to recover.

A short time later Cerrone connected with a kick to Guillard’s head. Guillard looked like his legs were made of rubber when Cerrone connected with a big right that sent him down. And that was it, with the referee stepping in to give Cerrone the knockout win.

The main event saw Frankie Edgar challenging Benson Henderson for the Lightweight title.

This has to be one of the closest fights I’ve seen in a long time. Henderson’s tactics early on were apparent for all to see as he targeted Edgar’s lead leg with a series of kicks. These were hard and crisp, the third one putting his challenger on his backside.

Edgar was able to keep up with the champion, although towards the end of the round when the fight went to the ground he found himself in a guillotine. But with only a few seconds left he gutted it out until the time limit expired.

As the fight went on they showed just how close they were skill-wise. Henderson continued with his leg kicks. Edgar soon responded with some kicks of his own, but they were nowhere near as powerful as the champion’s.

Edgar’s big striking moment came in the second round when a right sent Henderson to the ground. He managed to survive though as the back and forth striking exchanges continued, making this a very interesting fight.

Despite all of this great striking we couldn’t get a finish, which meant more work for the judges. Like the rest of us they couldn’t agree who won, with one going for Edgar and the other two going for Henderson as the champion retained the title on a split decision.

With some time to spare it was on to filler material as Ken Stone faced Erik Perez in the bantamweight division.

I can see why this one was included. Stone connected with a couple of strikes. Perez countering with a big right that sent Stone crashing. Perez followed him down for a spot of ground and pound until the referee intervened to give Perez the knockout win after just 17 seconds.

Then it was on to the featherweight contest between Dennis Bermudez and Tommy Hayden.

These guys were impressive. Bermudez took the fight to the ground early on with a powerful takedown as he allied this with nice striking that put Hayden on the back foot.

Hayden turned the tables a little when he scored with a big knee that sent Bermudez down to the mat. Hayden followed him down and quickly took his back, but Bermudez was able to get back to his feet.

Moments later Bermudez caught Hayden and applied a standing guillotine. Hayden knew when he was beaten, tapping out to give Bermudez the submission win.

In conclusion - this show was the polar opposite of UFC 149. Every fight was infinitely more enjoyable, from the show opener right up to the main event.

Along the way we saw some great performances from the likes of Jake Shields and Donald Cerrone. For me though the fight of the night was rounds six through ten of the Henderson/Edgar encounter. That really was a close one, and it’s a shame we’re not going to see these two go at it in a rubber match anytime soon. But as the old saying goes never say never. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see those two hook up again in the future.

So with all of that being said let’s end this thing by giving UFC 150 the big thumbs up.

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