Well, besides that ugly little piece of business (and I stand by my position that it was a close enough fight that the decision wasn’t particularly “bad”, even if I didn’t agree with it), there are a lot of things to discuss from Saturday night’s card. Let’s talk about Henderson-Edgar without getting all angry at the ringside tabulators, shall we?
Henderson-Edgar II: What About the Fight?
As with Diego Sanchez-Martin Kampmann or a dozen other close fights with “controversial” decisions, it’s kind of sad when a pretty good fight becomes all about the judges’ scorecards and everyone seems to forget the reason we watched in the first place, which was the actual action inside the cage.
Henderson-Edgar II was a good fight and a competitive one, with a lot of things to think about after the fact. One thing I’m still wondering about is why Ben Henderson seemed to abandon the leg kicks that had been working so well for him in the early going as the fight went on. He was locating the kicks on the calf of Edgar’s left leg early on, but moved up to the usual target that you see (Edgar’s quad muscle) later before his kick output slowed considerably. Edgar changed his stance now and then to put his right leg forward, but didn’t stick with it long enough to really deter Henderson, and Henderson didn’t seem to be hurt, either. What gives?
One thing I have noticed in both of the Henderson-Edgar fights is that Edgar usually gets the best of the tail end of an exchange. Even if Henderson led off with a strike that landed, the exchange would usually end with Edgar landing a right straight or another quality punch before Henderson would break away. I’m surprised that didn’t play better with the judges, who usually notice the last strike in an exchange as much (if not more) than the first.
What may have hurt Edgar is that Henderson consistently landed the “louder” strikes. I mean loud as in memorable rather than actual volume, of course. Think about it: the kicks that hobbled him, the butt-scoot upkick, and so on. On the other hand, Edgar’s best shots were just well-delivered punches that usually landed nicely but had no perceptible affect on Edgar. Also, it’s interesting that Henderson controlled the middle of the Octagon for much of the fight, but unlike in the Diaz-Condit non-troversy, no one is calling for a Henderson win via “Octagon control”. I know that Edgar wasn’t moving backward necessarily, but I’ve heard many arguments in the past that “controlling the center” is important…just none in terms of this particular fight.
–A lot of people are not giving Henderson a chance against Nate Diaz. I think that’s crazy. Diaz has been on quite a streak, but I think all this talk of Diaz running through Henderson has more to do with people being frustrated with the decision that led to Henderson keeping the belt than anything else.
–You know what’s always interesting to see? When a fighter hurts an opponent with a punch and then shoots for the takedown. Both Ed Herman and Jake Shields did so in their fight. It’s like even when they’re in there with another fighter who isn’t exactly a standup threat, they both default to their usual “takedown takedown takedown” mentality. I didn’t have a problem with the fight being a bit methodical, though: did Dana White or anyone else expect something different from Herman and Shields? Come on, now. What’s next? Being surprised that a Shields-Yushin Okami fight ends up being dull?
–Someone needs to do a “Mortal Kombat” version of the Donald Cerrone knockout of Melvin Guillard, STAT. After the first strike wobbles Guillard: “FINISH HIM!” Then, after the running punch puts Guillard down for good: “FATALITY!” Why hasn’t someone with more video editing talent than myself thought of this?
–Yushin Okami did what you’re supposed to do when you face a fighter who just isn’t at your level: he wore him down and put him away. Not a great fight, but what do you want, here?
Adventures in Refereeing
Since I condemn bad officiating so often in this space, I think it’s only right that I recognize a job well done. In the Erik Perez-Ken Stone fight, the initial reaction by many was that the standup was too hasty, since Stone was very much alert and fighting back as referee Herb Dean bulldozed Perez out of the way and halted the action. However, replays clearly showed that when Dean made the decision to intervene, Stone was as out as out could be, and as we so often see, it was the follow-up shots by Perez that brought Stone back.
Sound of Violence Award
I must begrudgingly bestow this upon Jake Shields for walking out to “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. Great song. However, this song is about as much a match for Shields’ methodical style as death metal is for dinner hour at a wedding reception. I guess if you took the words literally enough, Shields is hard to hold down, and…you know what? No. I’m stripping Shields of the award. Someone else use the song. Please.
Movin’ On Up Award
Donald Cerrone had a major misstep in a lethargic, uncharacteristically-flat performance against Nate Diaz that cost him a title shot not too long ago. Thanks to a couple of quality wins in a row since then, he’s now back in the mix, though he’ll have to battle fellow WEC veteran Anthony Pettis to get in line officially for a lightweight title shot. You know Cerrone would like to get another crack at Diaz if it all works out, and I’m sure he’d settle for a title shot in any form if he can get by Pettis.
Beautiful Loser Award
Who else but Frankie Edgar? I really believe that the fight could have gone either way, and although I personally had it 48-47 Edgar, I’m reasonable enough to realize that MY score is not the definitive score simply because it sprung from my brain. Nonetheless, Edgar has been slicing it a little thin lately, with four of his last six fights being very competitive decisions. I thought both he and Henderson could have worked to impose their respective wills in the third and fourth rounds, and that’s what ended up costing Edgar.
Holy $#!% Award
The entire fight between Cerrone and Guillard takes this one. When Cerrone had clearly recovered from being rocked by Guillard in the early goings, one of the guys I was watching with wondered aloud if Cerrone would be more cautious after surviving such a near-disaster. After thinking about Cerrone’s attitude toward life and all of the chances he takes inside and out of the cage, I said that I figured it’d be the opposite: he’d think, “I already got hurt once; I better stop fucking around.” That he did. Great finish, and as far as crazy back-and-forth one-rounders go, it was one of the best I’ve seen.