After losing the UFC lightweight strap in Japan earlier this year, Frankie Edgar (14-2-1) was extended the opportunity to drop down to the 145 lbs. division and challenge current featherweight champion Jose Aldo. Most agree the transition would ultimately deposit Edgar into his legitimate weight class in view of being considered a “small” lightweight.
In fact Edgar has always been forthright about being one of the few fighters not forced to cut weight for the purpose of residing in their desired division. So a drop to featherweight appeared the obvious course but instead, the former champion urged UFC President Dana White and match-maker Joe Silva to grant him an immediate rematch with current titlist Benson Henderson (16-2).
Edgar insisted the judges scorecards declaring Henderson the winner and crowning him the UFC’s new lightweight champion was unwarranted, believing he had successfully defended his title and secured the decision. Immediately afterwards social media was buzzing with controversy as supporters for both combatants were certain their fighter had won.
The UFC has built a reputation for pleasing their fans and so it should come as no surprise that an immediate rematch was scheduled and is taking place this coming Saturday night as the main event for UFC 150. Their first encounter was featured in Japan but this time around the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado will play host to what looks like another stacked card.
Oddsmakers opened the champion as a -175 betting favorite but the price to back Henderson immediately increased to -185 and seems to be on the rise. The take-back on former title holder Edgar is now a generous +160 or greater.
What a difference less than 6 months can make in the betting market..
In their February bout Henderson was listed as the underdog, with Edgar going off as high as -125 at some shops before entering the octagon. As bettors the task is to determine if the market shift is based on perception or whether it’s justified. And when able to conclude it’s due to "perception", then we as bettors have found value and a position offering us the best of it.
Simply put, get your money down as often as possible when getting the best of it and you become a mathematical certainty to come out ahead of the bookmakers long-term.
For Edgar 30, he’ll need to utilize his superior technical boxing skills against Henderson to outland the champion. To do this Edgar will rely on his speed and footwork to move into the pocket, land combinations, and then get out of the dangerous counter puncher’s reach. The challenger lands almost 1 strike more per minute and in a scheduled five round bout that difference can really add up on the judges scorecards.
Edgar is also a Ricardo Almeida trained jiu jitsu practitioner but hasn’t submitted an opponent since 2010 and prefers to keep the fight standing. In fact, he’s averaged less than 0.30 submission attempts per 15 minutes according to Fightmetric.com, the company responsible for logging data for the UFC.
With that said, he is an extremely skilled wrestler who surprisingly was able to take down the bigger Henderson five times in their first fight. Unfortunately, Edgar was unable to keep him down and impose his will to do any significant damage with those take-downs.
The champion 28, will undoubtedly look to keep this fight at a distance even though Edgar has a 2 inch reach advantage. Henderson will want to neutralize the challenger’s punching accuracy with bruising kicks that will also serve to slow Edgar down some as the fight progresses.
The title holder has continued to improve his striking game since coming over from the WEC and is currently one of the division’s toughest to defend against. Henderson’s a southpaw which in itself poses a problem for most opponents but when coupled with overwhelming strength and one punch knock-out power, he’s a very difficult out for opponents at lightweight.
Henderson’s striking affords him the opportunity to set up take-downs and when he shoots for a single or double, he’s able to bring the fight to the mat quite easily, averaging almost 3.50 take-downs per 15 minutes. While there, the MMA Lab product is constantly trying to secure a submission which is reflected by the fact 50% of his wins have come by way of tap out.
Finally, aggression will be vital in this rematch as Edgar has shown a resiliency that’s legendary and Henderson has the dexterity to break his opponents down. I believe this time around we will see an even more confident and comfortable Henderson enter the cage, meaning he’ll be much more relaxed from the onset, something he wasn’t when they met in February.
Look for the champion to withstand the early speed and footwork advantage for Edgar and then begin to dictate the tempo and where the fight takes place. In the end, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Henderson slap on a submission and finish the fight before the final bell. But since the asking price to win is more than reasonable and offers value at anything less than -200, I’ll instead place my bet on “Smooth” to win.
PICK = BENSON “SMOOTH” HENDERSON
Bonus Value Bets :
1.) MELVIN GUILLARD +250 over Donald Cerrone (Co-Main Event)
2.) ED HERMAN +160 over Jake Shields (Main Card)
MMA & BOXING RECORD = 70-42 (63%) at Pregame.com
By-Line : Vegas-Runner is a professional sports bettor in Las Vegas. He’s been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow VR on Twitter (@vegasrunner), at Pregame.com, and on ESPN 1100am on Sunday’s and Monday’s.
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Man we are always in agreement on these fights. Renan Barao was the easiest money ever and my biggest mma bet of the year. I mentioned this fight over a month ago when the line was Henderson -160 and I jumped all over it. First time they fought I had 2 dimes on Hendo at +130.
Now he's at -200. The squares will back Edgar on fight night and double down after losing money on backing Faber at plus money a couple weeks ago thinking it was going to be a "close" fight with Barao lol. Hendo is too big for Edgar. He will take the fight to Edgar and get the win.
VR is spot on. Hendo wins and Edgar goes to down to 145 to fight Jose Aldo.