Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar knows a thing or two (or three) about tough fights. His epic duo of bouts against B.J. Penn, as well as his trilogy with Gray Maynard, have cemented his status as a guy who can take a licking and keep on ticking.
"The Answer" is also not so bad and dishing out punishment himself, either. And that's exactly what he plans to do when he faces Ben Henderson at UFC 144 on Feb. 26, 2012, at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
"Bendo" has won his first three fights inside the Octagon. And he hasn't been besting slouches during that impressive stretch. With decisive wins over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida (in that order), Henderson announced to the mixed martial arts (MMA) world that he means business.
Edgar knows he's a tough guy and he's taking him seriously. During an interview with HDNet's "Inside MMA," the 155-pound champion talked about the challenge ahead of him:
"He's been on a tear since he's been over here in the UFC. He's beat three top guys; all contenders. He's the man right now. So, he's got a lot of steam behind him. I know he brings a lot of heat. I think it'll be a very high output kind of fight and I can't wait."
According to Edgar, everything is currently on schedule and going great. He's doing his best to use the resources he has at his disposal, both for this fight, but also for the international experience of fighting in Japan:
"Training's going great. I'm about to ship out to Japan, next week. Obviously I have Renzo (Gracie) and Ricardo (Almeida) to talk to and bounce ideas off of. We're gonna get there like nine days in advance. I figure that should be enough time. You know, I fought in Abu Dhabi, which is a pretty significant time difference, so, you know, it's gonna be business as usual."
Though Edgar has fought several tough guys, he's never really fought anyone exactly like Henderson. He's aware of the dangerous package that he brings to his fights and is doing the best he can to make preparations:
"It's tough. You know, a guy like that is really tough to duplicate, as far as training partners go. You get a little mixture of this and that in different guys and you try to prepare the best you can for him. You know, I think it's just his scrambling ability. He scrambles really well and he's a great athlete. He throws good knees and stuff like that. I don't wanna get caught with one of them, for sure."
In the meantime, Edgar is trying to take it easy, but not too easy. He believes the success he's experienced has been a direct result of his hard work:
"Not too much relaxing. You know, if I relax too much, then the success won't continue. I've been with my wife and my kids, stuff like that. I've been trying to unwind and do it that way."
One thing is for certain: MMA fans are in for quite a show when these two 155-pound warriors enter the cage later this month. There will be plenty of fireworks for the Japanese fans lucky enough to be in attendance.
Will "The Answer" have what it takes to overcome this next obstacle in his career? Or will "Bendo" be able to do enough to steal the belt away and prove he is the best lightweight fighter in the world?