Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has a new "King of the Hill" in its lightweight division these days. The crowning came when Ben Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar at UFC 144 in Saitama, Japan on Feb. 25, 2012.
"Smooth" didn't get to enjoy his victory for long before he was having to answer questions about who would be the challenger for his first title defense. While there were a few options, the fact that his win over Edgar came by way of decision seemed to point to an immediate rematch.
Ultimately, the bout was confirmed and will be taking place some time this summer. Henderson appeared on "UFC Ultimate Insider," last night (March, 27, 2012) to talk about his newly acquired belt, as well as how he feels about having to face Edgar again:
"Frankie gave two rematches. It's criminal not to give him a rematch after a decision, because, as a champ, he gave two rematches. I think it's something that has to be done sometimes. There's just no alternative. It does create a little bit of a logjam, I guess you could say, from the top, but, if you're a challenger, the idea is you have to keep winning. It doesn't matter. You have to keep on winning. So, if there's a logjam...guess what? You gotta fight. You gotta win. Oh well. That's the way life goes."
Check out what "Bendo" had to say about the man that some felt should have been given the first crack at his belt, Anthony Pettis:
The last time Henderson was defeated, it came at the hands of Pettis, who used a highlight reel, off-the-cage kick, to help garner a unanimous decision victory at WEC 53 in Glendale, Arizona on Dec. 16, 2010.
After Pettis scored a brutal, first round knockout win over Joe Lauzon at UFC 144, it looked as though things may have been coming together for Henderson to get a chance to avenge his last loss.
It obviously never came together, but it's a fight that will likely happen at some point in the future. Henderson was asked if he thought Pettis was deserving of getting a title shot at this point in time:
"I would say probably not so much. He had a split decision over an unranked Jeremy Stephens. I believe Ariel Helwani had Joe Lauzon ranked number ten. Nice win. Good stoppage over a number ten guy, but I don't think that catapults you over guys like Jim Miller or Nate Diaz, who's on a nice little run. So, it's hard to say, really. Oh, absolutely. We're gonna do it. Before I retire, before I die -- he and I are gonna dance again in the Octagon. I'm gonna have the belt for a while. I'm gonna hold on to the belt. I'm not letting go of it for the next four, five years or so. It's a matter of Pettis working his way up to the top to be a number one contender and get the title shot. I'm definitely looking forward to it. I wanna get my hands on him. But, you know, it's up to Dana White, Joe Silva and those guys."
Now that it's a done deal that Henderson will be facing Edgar for a second time, he's set his sights on the target and has been making preparations. First on his "to do list" was watching his UFC 144 bout again and to take some notes.
Here's what he thought about his performance:
"I wasn't as busy as I wanted to be. I thought, in my head, I was a lot busier and more proactive with my boxing and whatnot. As I re-watched the fight, I was like, 'Oh, wow. I wasn't nearly as busy as I thought I was.' There were a lot of openings that Frankie left that I did not take advantage of. Going into the rematch, when I see an opening, I am going to go for it."
The new champion was nothing but complimentary of the man who he defeated to win the belt. He credited Edgar for his heart and his toughness, citing that he believes many lesser men would have folded under comparable pressure:
"I think a lot of guys would have folded. Frankie has a great heart. He was a great champ. He's a great fighter. Tough as heck and a great chin. I think a lot of guys, going into the third round, would have been pretty sad and would have folded a little bit. But Frankie? There was no fold, no quit in him."
Henderson went on to re-state his desire to not just hold the belt for a short time and be a very good fighter -- he wants to break records and be considered the best in the world:
"I'm gonna get nine title defenses. Whatever Anderson Silva has, I'm gonna get plus one. That's the ultimate goal. I wanna be the best fighter on the planet, period. It's a lofty goal, but, to be a UFC champion, that was a pretty lofty goal. When I was first starting out as a fighter, when I was an amateur guy, guess what...I got it done. I think me going for Anderson Silva's records and whatnot might be kinda lofty and out there and far reaching, but guess what...those are my goals."
The event and date of Henderson's rematch versus Edgar are both currently unconfirmed, but MMAmania.com will be prompt to bring you the information as it becomes official.