UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar is remembered for his epic wars with the likes of BJ Penn and Gray Maynard. Come February 26 and UFC 144, Edgar is hoping that the Japanese fan base will embrace him like those in the U.S. have.
Edgar will defend his 155-pound UFC title against Benson Henderson in the main event of UFC 144, which takes place from Saitama, Japan and the Saitama Super Arena. The UFC will be returning to Japan for the first time since UFC 29, which took place in 2000.
“I’m excited to go over there jst because the Japanese fan base is going to be pretty cool,” said Edgar, in a recent interview with Heavy.com. “PRIDE was huge over there. MMA’s huge – it’s the birthplace of martial arts. So what better place to defend your title than there? I think they really appreciate the fighting spirit.”
Edgar overcame another furious start by Maynard in their title fight at UFC 136, working his way back to knock out “The Bully” and avenge his lone career loss. “The Answer” is now 14-1-1, including a three-plus-year run where his lone non-win was a draw to Maynard.
“I bring it every time I fight, so I think they’ll appreciate that,” Edgar said. “It’s really tough to predict how he’s (Henderson) going to approach it and what he’s thinking. I think Clay (Guida) kind of drew him into that fast pace, anyway. Maybe he’ll come in and be more technical, or maybe he’ll be the one who wants to push the pace.”
Henderson, a former WEC champion, earned a win over Guida earlier this month to secure the title shot. “Smooth” has defeated Mark Bocek and Jim Miller since joining the UFC, and brings a record of 15-2 into the Edgar bout.