Las Vegas, Nevada - Two months into 2012, and there are already some mouth-watering UFC championship fights on tap. In April, light heavyweight king Jon Jones will defend his crown against No.1 contender and bitter rival Rashad Evans, in May heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos is expected to collide with the fearsome Alistair Overeem. An announcement regarding Anderson Silva’s 185 lbs title rematch with nemesis Chael Sonnen is coming shortly and in July Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber will once again clash for the bantamweight belt.
However, Saturday’s fight for the lightweight championship between Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson at UFC 144 in Japan could be the most evenly matched title fight of the year, so says the science…
Frankie Edgar – already on his way to ‘all-time great’ status
- Edgar scored two of the biggest upsets of 2010, beating BJ Penn twice, the second time by dominating every round both standing and on the ground. He then had two of the best fights of 2011, with an epic draw and knockout win over Gray Maynard, both times saving his title by clawing his way off the canvas to take it to the one man to ever beat him.
- You can’t measure a fighter’s heart, but getting off the canvas after heavy knockdowns gives a good indication of cardio-vascular fortitude. And Edgar is the ONLY fighter in UFC history – that’s over 2000 fights and 19 years – to recover from three knockdowns (vs Maynard in first fight, went on to get a draw) and not lose the fight.
- Edgar is already setting records at 155lbs. He makes opponents miss with 74% of total strikes – best striking defence of any lightweight ever and already fourth best overall defence of anyone in UFC history. Consider the level of competition he has had, this is a stunning statistic.
- Frankie has handed five world class fighters their first professional defeats: Gray Maynard (by knockout), Matt Veach, Jim Miller, Tyson Griffin and Mark Bocek.
- Counter-intuitive to his impressive defence, ‘the Answer’ is an attacking fighter. He throws leather – he has landed 940 strikes in UFC, which is second behind only BJ Penn in UFC lightweight history (Penn’s record is 1215).
- Edgar’s wrestling is just as impressive as his striking. He has scored with 35 career takedowns, averaging three (3) per fight in the UFC.
- Still not ready to accept ‘the Answer’ as one of the best 155 lbs fighters in MMA history? Well, if he wins at UFC 144, Edgar ties BJ Penn and Jim Miller in most wins in UFC lightweight division at 10.
Benson Henderson – Stats prove he’s true No.1 contender
- ‘Bendo’ might be one of the few fighters able to match Edgar’s cardio. Henderson’s takedown accuracy actually gets better as the fight goes on. His 72.7% takedown accuracy in the third round is easily better than his averages in rounds one (56.5%) and two (38.95%).
- Ben is officially the hardest man to submit in UFC/WEC history. He’s been put in a record 28 submission holds, but escaped every single one. Next hardest guy to submit is Jon Fitch, who has escaped 23 threatening submission holds.
- He has out-struck (landed more shots than he took) all three UFC opponents in every single round in the Octagon. His UFC strike radio reads 161-36.
- His four (4) takedowns on average per fight (UFC/WEC) put him at No.4 all time.
Henderson wins via chokehold – Undisputed Truth?
A final stat to heighten anticipation for the UFC 144 main event: for the first time since THQ’s UFC Undisputed 3 fight simulator began predicting fights four months ago, it is predicting both the upset and a title change.
While there were scenarios where Edgar finished the fight with a big punch (and the computer couldn’t separate the two men in terms of one getting the upper-hand in striking), according to the fight simulation mode on the best-selling video game, the most likely outcome of the Edgar vs Henderson fight is that the champion is caught with an arm-in guillotine from the guard and is tapped out.
The simulator works by selecting ‘computer v computer’ mode in the new video game, and having the match play out 25 times. Of those 25 successive simulations, the most frequent outcome is that Henderson defeats Edgar via choke.
The Undisputed predictor has called just over 80% of all fights correctly… has it got it right for Saturday?