The UFC’s lightweight division is easily its most competitive.
While elite fighters like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre have run through their respective weight classes, the 155-pound division has a deep stable with the potential for an upset every time two lightweights step in the octagon.
The two best lightweight fighters in the world collide at UFC 150, when champion Benson Henderson defends his title against former 155-pound king Frankie Edgar at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Saturday night.
Henderson defeated Edgar for the UFC lightweight strap at UFC 144, winning via decision at even odds back in February. That controversial victory instantly sparked a rematch, allowing the lightweight division to provide betting value once again.
Henderson was as high as -210 for this rematch but has since been bet down to -175 versus Edgar (+145). The former champion has proven time and time again that he can’t be counted out, and was an underdog in his two bouts with Grey Maynard and two bouts with B.J. Penn. Edgar went 3-0-1 in those fights.
“People have always underestimated Frankie Edgar dating back to his underdog status against Penn,” MMA oddsmaker Joey Oddessa told Covers. “Edgar has been amazing in rematches making the adjustments necessary to win fights.”
Henderson has a size and strength advantage over Edgar and pressed the action early in their first meeting at UFC 144. However, Edgar was able to absorb those blows and seemed to get stronger in the later rounds.
Edgar has now gone the full five-round championship distance in four of his last five bouts and, outside of a fourth-round KO in his second match with Maynard, he has left the decision to the judges in 10 of his 17 career fights, posting an 8-2 record on the scorecards.
“Edgar is one of those ‘Timex' guys. Takes licking but keeps on ticking,” says Oddessa. “It's tough to bet against him. Edgar's heart and commitment to excellence is as big as it gets in any sport.”
Henderson is no slouch either, bringing a 16-2 professional record into UFC 150. The former WEC standout has won eight of his fights via submission and is known for his slick escapes and dreaded guillotine choke. Since losing to Anthony Pettis via decision in his final WEC fight, he’s gone 4-0 in the UFC against names like Jim Miller, Clay Guida, and Edgar.
“I've seen every one of these guys’ fights and I still think it's a winnable bout for Edgar,” says Oddessa. “I'll be taking a long look at Edgar again this week and there's a good chance I'll be looking for him to improve to 15-2-1.”
UFC 150 leans
Benson Henderson (-175) vs. Frankie Edgar (+145)
You can’t keep a good dog down. Edgar always gives bettors a fighting chance but is there enough tread left on the tires to hang at 155 pounds?
Donald Cerrone (-285) vs. Melvin Guillard (+225)
These two were sparring partner at Greg Jackson’s, so Guillard is well schooled on Cerrone and his weaknesses. But Cerrone also has the rundown on Guillard and is one of the most dangerous finishers in MMA right now.
Jake Shields (-200) vs. Ed Herman (+160)
Shields makes the move back to middleweight, perhaps hoping to get a shot at Anderson Silva’s crown. But he shouldn’t look past Herman, who has won three in a row and knows how to finish a fight if the opportunity arises.
Buddy Roberts (+375) vs. Yushin Okami (-555)
I’ve never been a big fan of Okami, who has struggled making the next step in his career. It may seem strange for a fighter coming off back-to-back losses to be priced this high, but Roberts is the replacement of a replacement. Even so, I’m not shelling out that juice to bet Okami.
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.com.