Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012 | 12:45 a.m.
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- Memorable fight night ends with Ben Henderson claiming title
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DENVER — Boos poured down as forcefully as snow in a blizzard over the Rocky Mountains. Frankie Edgar broke away from the center of the octagon as quickly as an avalanche barreling down a cliff.
A storm of disapproval passed through the Pepsi Center after the judges awarded Benson Henderson a split-decision victory (48-47, 48-47, 46-49) over Edgar in their lightweight championship bout at UFC 150 Saturday night.
Stranded in the middle of it with a belt still strapped around his waist, Henderson went to UFC President Dana White with a question. The champion asked the boss who he thought won the bout.
“I definitely felt I did enough to get my hand raised,” Henderson said. “I just wanted to make sure the big guy over here, I wanted to see how he had it.”
As strange as it may sound for a confident winner to search for scores beyond those that counted, White’s reaction was even more bizarre. He refused to give Henderson an answer despite the champion inquiring four times and begging for White to “be real.”
White continued to invoke the Fifth Amendment at the post-fight press conference, though he hinted to agreeing with the masses. It sounded like White scored the contest for Edgar.
“I had it even going into the fifth round,” White said. “I’m not a judge. Last time, I came out and gave my decision. It’s not fair. He won twice. I’m not a judge no matter who I thought won that fifth round.”
When Henderson beat Edgar for the first time, earlier this year by unanimous decision at UFC 144, White openly disagreed. His honesty gave Edgar’s argument for a rematch more credence.
The last thing White wants to do is deal with that again. No matter the outcry, Edgar will not receive a title shot in his next bout.
Henderson will move on to face top contender Nate Diaz, who expressed his belief Henderson won in a tweet, within the next few months.
“It’s going to be a tough fight,” Henderson said. “I know he likes to go into his fights and get guys worked up in the head a little bit, so him and everyone involved in that 209 stuff, God bless them.” (209 is the area code of Stockton, Calif., where Diaz is from.)
Even when the Diaz showdown approaches, discussion and debate from UFC 150 will linger. The reveal of the scorecards helped bring another shower of controversy.
Like White, the majority of media members had the bout tied at 38 heading to the fifth round. The consensus was that Henderson won the first and third rounds by controlling the action, while Edgar took the second and fourth by putting the champion in perilous scenarios.
If Henderson won the fight, the thought was that his late flurry in the fifth round must have swayed the judges after Edgar started strong. But all three of them awarded Edgar the final frame.
The two judges in Henderson’s favor surprisingly sided with Henderson in the fourth, which dumbfounded the former champion.
“I feel great,” Edgar said. “I felt I improved from last fight. I felt I did enough to win. A lot of people told me that they thought I won. But it didn’t matter. The judges didn’t.”
Henderson’s next fight is inked, but Edgar’s future looks so uncertain it can’t even be jotted down in pencil. He could stay at lightweight and face one of the top contenders in hopes of earning another title shot down the road.
Or, as White would prefer, Edgar could drop down to his natural division of featherweight and receive an immediate top-contender bout. The former champion, who saw his unblemished record in rematches wash away, gave no indication as to which way he leaned.
“I’m moving on,” Edgar said. “Dana isn’t giving me another title shot. I know that much.”
But White could very well believe Edgar deserves one. When it comes to theories on why the president wouldn’t reveal his opinion, the desire to keep the lightweight division moving tops the list.
“I’m always the guy everyone is looking at when the fight ends,” White said. “It’s not up to me, man. All my work is done the minute these guys step into the cage.”