Opening Round: The Answer is “The Answer”

As beautiful as the bout between lightweight champion Benson Henderson and former title-holder Frankie Edgar was this past Saturday night at UFC 144 it also created quite a mess in terms of top contendership to the title. Though Edgar was beaten on the scorecards and looked the part of a loser afterwards based on physical damage, some would argue he did enough to retain his belt with UFC President Dana White even stating as much in a post-event interview. On the other hand, Anthony Pettis is not only the last man to beat Henderson but picked up a Knockout of the Night win over Joe Lauzon this weekend as well. Beyond that, top 155ers Nate Diaz and Jim Miller are matched up in early May.

So what should the UFC do? Look no further than the title of this article.

Edgar should be given an immediate rematch with Henderson though not necessarily for the regular reasons. Frankly, Frankie didn’t do enough to beat “Bendo” or make the same sort of claims as Nick Diaz whose loss to Carlos Condit was far more controversial. There was no injustice in giving Henderson the win, and had the tables been turned and Edgar awarded the decision the level of outrage would have been undoubtedly (and understandably) higher.

However, Edgar wasn’t soundly smashed by any means either and kept things competitive throughout even after eating some big shots. He caught a ton of Henderson’s kicks, got some takedowns, and landed a couple of nice strikes on his own. While that obviously makes a rematch more of realistic option than a clear-cut loss would have, it’s also not the only reason Edgar should get a second go at Henderson.

The truth is Pettis should not currently be considered a top contender. His knockout of Lauzon was unquestionably excellent but only his second win since losing to Clay Guida with the other being a Split Decision over Jeremy Stephens. He needs at least one more win over a Top 10 foe, like Gray Maynard for example, to really earn the fans’ respect where being a believable contender is concerned. He doesn’t need a huge winning streak by any means. After all, Henderson got his shot by beating three consecutive opponents. It just happened to be two were in line for a crack at the belt rather than simply a pair of talented but inconsistent adversaries.

Likewise, waiting for Miller-Diaz to sort their situation out is a waste of six months in which Henderson could erase any doubt about his victory over Edgar by potentially beating him a second time on American soil rather than pre-lunchtime in Japan. An added bonus to that might be the loss cementing the notion of a featherweight future in Edgar’s mind instead of allowing any doubt about dropping to remain.

If there was an unquestionable contender in place it might be one thing but there’s not barring a scenario where Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez signs with the UFC. Edgar-Henderson II is a guaranteed PPV draw, would likely clear up lingering confusion surrounding who is the better fighter, gives the UFC time to establish Pettis or Diaz-Miller as being next, could speed up Edgar’s move to 145 pounds, and even does the former champion a solid after he was forced into immediate rematches on two separate occasions. There are far more reasons to put a sequel together than go any other direction, so why keep asking questions when a perfectly acceptable “Answer” is already in place?

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!

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