DENVER (AP) — Another five-round battle, another controversial decision for Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar.
Henderson retained his lightweight title at UFC 150 on Saturday night, doing just enough to outpoint Frankie Edgar in a split decision. Henderson, born in Colorado Springs, received winning scores of 48-47 from two of the judges, while the third scored it 49-46 for Edgar.
Henderson took the belt from Edgar on Feb. 25.
Boos rained down on Henderson after the decision was announced to the crowd that increasingly gravitated to Edgar’s corner as the 155-pound fight progressed.
“I definitely thought I did enough to earn the victory,” Henderson said. “Frankie has the heart of a champion and is a great fighter.”
The bout was action-packed, with both fighters landing damaging punches and kicks and nearly submitting each other with choke holds. The difference likely came because of Henderson’s 89-62 advantage in significant punches landed.
Despite earning the decision, Henderson believed there was more he could have done in the fight.
“The biggest thing I was disappointed in myself with is that I didn’t push the pace enough,” Henderson said. “I didn’t do a good enough job of capitalizing and getting on top of him when he was off balance. My coaches were yelling at me to push the pace, but I was lethargic and didn’t push it as much as I should have.”
UFC President Dana White declined to say how he would’ve scored the bout.
“I’m not a judge,” said White, who said he had the fight even going into the final round. “Ben Henderson won the fight, he retained his title, and that’s the end of it. That’s why I always say, if you don’t want to be sitting in here going, ‘I think I won that fight,’ you cannot leave it in the hands of the judges.”
Henderson (17-2) will defend his title against Nate Diaz (16-7).
Amid alternating chants of “Frankie!” and “Benson!” at Pepsi Center, the fighters exchanged right hands and leg kicks, with Edgar scoring a number of takedowns and dropping Henderson with a right hand in the second. Edgar bled from the nose after a Henderson right hand in the second, but never appeared to be affected by the blood.
Edgar was visibly upset after the decision dropped him to 14-3-1.
“I felt I improved from last time, and I think I did enough to win,” Edgar said. “A lot of people told me they thought I’d won, but it doesn’t matter. The judges didn’t. The decision is not going to change, and it is what it is.”
Edgar said he isn’t interested in asking for another shot at Henderson.
“I’m moving on,” Edgar said. “Dana’s not going to give me another title shot, I know that much.”
The co-main event lasted only 1:16, but provided more action than most of the night’s other bouts. Denver native Donald Cerrone recovered from a left hook from Melvin Guillard (47-12-3) that floored him early in the round and improved to 19-4 after connecting on a left kick to the head and a right hook that sealed the deal.
Guillard’s shot rocked Cerrone in the fight’s opening seconds, but he was unable to connect with a flurry of knee strikes and punch combinations to end the matchup between the 29-year-old lightweights. Cerrone landed what initially appeared to be a glancing left kick to the top of Guillard’s head, but the New Orleans fighter was virtually out on his feet and defenseless to Cerrone’s finishing right hand.
“Frankly, I thought I just grazed the top of him,” said Cerrone, who earned $120,000 in bonuses for the knockout and fight of the night. “I didn’t realize I connected as well as I did. Thankfully I did, and I followed it with a right hand.”
Cerrone, a Denver native who attended Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, is 8-1 in his last nine fights. Two of the 155-pounder’s losses have come at the hands of Henderson.
Cerrone knew he was in big trouble early in the fight.
“I was extremely hurt, especially the knee to the body,” said Cerrone, who likely will next face Anthony Pettis (13-2) in a key lightweight bout. “It took everything in me to fight through it and keep going. It was probably the worst I’ve ever been injured in a fight.”
Guillard, who missed weight at Friday’s weigh-in by 2 1-2 pounds, will be fined a portion of his purse. He is 6-3 in his last nine fights.