UFC 144 took place on Feb. 25, 2012 in Tokyo, Japan. The main event was a lightweight championship fight between champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar, and Benson “Smooth” Henderson.
The champion, Edgar, had won the title by defeating BJ Penn at UFC 112, then successfully defending it in the rematch with Penn at UFC 118. He then fought Gray Maynard in part 2 and 3 of their exciting trilogy. Part 2 was a draw at UFC 125, and Part 3 saw Edgar defeat Maynard by KO at UFC 136.
Benson Henderson was on a 3 fight win streak, defeating Mark Bocek, Jim Miller, and Clay Guida, all by unanimous decision. Henderson hadn’t held a belt since 2010, when he lost the WEC lightweight belt to Anthony Pettis.
Round 1: Both fighters meet in the center, and they both start throwing jabs, attempting to feel each other out. Neither is landing anything significant. Henderson starts attempting leg kicks and body kicks, and after the first kick, Edgar starts catching them in mid-air and countering with punches. They both keep up a good pace throughout the round, trading kicks and punches in the center of the Octagon. Edgar gets a quick takedown at the 1:00 mark and Henderson pops right back up. They continue with the leg kicks and attempted punches right to the end of the round.
Round 2: They both meet in the center once again and both start attempting punches and kicks. Nothing particularly solid lands for either fighter. Edgar again catches several of Henderson’s attempted kicks while countering with punches. Henderson throws a couple of moderate knee shots to Edgar’s midsection, and Edgar lands a few leg kicks and jabs. Edgar gets Henderson down at about the 2:00 mark, and attempts to take his back. After a few seconds he is unable to and both fighters stand back up. They both continue a moderate pace, with Henderson and Edgar trading punches, knees, and kicks. Edgar once again gets Henderson down at the: 48 mark, this time on his back. Edgar starts landing some ground and pound, successfully scoring points. Henderson throws his legs up looking for submission attempts but is unable to find one. Edgar stands back up once again looking to reign down punches, but at :13 Henderson catches Edgar with a vicious up kick that almost puts him out. Henderson jumps on Edgar, landing elbows and punches, but time runs out.
Round 3: They come back out in the center and begin trading once again. Edgar’s nose is bleeding profusely from the up kick in the previous round, but he continues to trade with Henderson at the exact same pace as Rounds 1 and 2. Henderson takes Edgar down at the halfway mark, but is unable to do any damage. After 10 seconds Edgar pops back up to his feet and they square off once again. They both are throwing punches, kicks, and knees, nothing too damaging. In the last 10 seconds of the round, Edgar scores a quick takedown. He holds him there then time runs out.
Round 4: They meet out in the center again and continue where they left off. Henderson throws punches and body kicks, landing a few, but none doing any damage. Edgar lands many punches and counters, but is unable to do any real damage as well. Both men continue at the same incredible pace in the 4th round, seeming to have unlimited energy. At 2:50, Edgar attempts another takedown, but Henderson is able to transition into a tight guillotine. Henderson holds the choke for 10 to 20 seconds, but is unable to finish. Edgar pops his head out and seconds later, both men stand back up. They square off once again, trading in the center, and taking the fight all over the ring. Both fighters seem even at this point, both landing punches and kicks. The round ends.
Round 5: They meet for the last and final round right back in the center. Even though this is the 5th round, both fighters continue to fight at a frenetic pace. At 3:50, Edgar lands a solid punch to Henderson’s face. It is the most significant punch of the fight thus far, but Henderson just seems to eat the punch. They continue fighting in the same manner, both throwing punches, kicks, and knees. Henderson lands a hard punch at 2:34, but Edgar quickly shakes it off. Of the two, Edgar’s face shows the most damage, bleeding from his nose, and with one eye almost completely shut. At 1:48, Edgar throws a punch that drops Henderson on the canvas. He jumps on Henderson and holds his neck from the top position, looking like he wants a submission.
He slips around trying to take Henderson’s back, and Henderson uses that moment to stand back to his feet. They once again square off, trading punches, kicks and knees. They continue landing pretty much blow for blow. During the final seconds of the fight, Henderson throws a flying knee, then Edgar quickly tries a takedown and ends up on the bottom. Henderson reigns down some hard elbows to Edgar’s body during the final seconds, and then the round ends.
The final decision goes to the judges, and they award the victory to Benson Henderson, who becomes the new UFC lightweight champion after a hard fought, 5 round war with Frankie Edgar.