After soundly defeating BJ Penn—twice—and KO’ing Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar finally finds himself in the clear as the undisputed lightweight king. With the top two 155 pound fighters not named Frankie out of the picture, the division has been a maelstrom of action, with each of the combatants scrambling to establish themselves as the next contender.
A highlight reel Matrix kick and ensuing victory over Benson Henderson, paved the way for Anthony Pettis to get a crack at the belt. Injuries, however, forced Pettis into a top contender fight against a momentum carrying Clay Guida—a fight that Guida won. Guida, in turn, lost to the resurgent Henderson, who had just defeated a dangerous and much hyped Jim Miller. And just like that, the man who appeared to be the one with the long road back now finds himself on the brink of another championship. Benson will tell you that keeping the faith played a big part in his victories following the loss to Pettis—we suspect his determination and outstanding natural talent probably didn’t hurt either.
The flight to Tokyo is roughly 10 hours on the non-stop from LAX, but it’s been more than 10 years since the UFC has visited the country. On February 25, Benson Henderson will make the journey to the Land of the Rising Sun to challenge Frankie Edgar for the lightweight strap. Turn to page 54 to see what Benson has learned on his journey, and read about his ambitious plans to not only take the lightweight belt but also keep it for many years to come. To read more about the return of the UFC to Japan, flip to page 92.
In addition to its ever expanding international presence, the UFC is also growing its fighter base. Check out the top players in the new flyweight division on page 74. It’s just one more reason to stay tuned for an exciting 2012.