Following every UFC and Strikeforce event, The MMA Corner will break down the event and suggest fights the promotion should make in the future. This week, our focus is on UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson, which took place on Feb. 25 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis

A new lightweight champion was crowned at UFC 144, as Benson Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar by unanimous decision.

The size of Henderson proved to be a contributing factor to the victory, with “Smooth” using his long limbs to land kicks from the outside. One judge scored the bout 48-47, with the other two seeing it as 49-46, all for Henderson. However, as in just about every title fight, there was controversy behind it. Some, including president Dana White, believed Edgar won the fight, but what the judges say matters and the lightweight division must go forward with a new champ.

The lightweight division is without a doubt the most stacked. Currently, there are three different options that can dictate who is the No. 1 contender.

Anthony Pettis (L) lands a kick for the KO win over Joe Lauzon (MMA Fighting)

The initial thought is to give Edgar a rematch for his belt. Once Edgar won the belt from B.J. Penn, Penn was issued an immediate rematch. So some will be thinking, why not give “The Answer” another chance? Well, there are some problems with that. As the division is becoming more and more crowded at the top, many names are emerging as contenders. There are three or four guys currently that have made a case to earn the next title shot. If an Edgar-Henderson rematch is made, it would cause even more delays, which isn’t what the UFC wants.

Now let’s look at other possible opponents for Henderson. The one that stands out right now is Anthony Pettis, who defeated fellow top contender Joe Lauzon in just 81 seconds by knockout. Pettis was expected to get a shot at the belt once he first came into the UFC, but with the whole Edgar-Maynard jumble, he ended up losing to Clay Guida in the meantime, knocking himself out of the top spot. But the question that is brought up after his win over Lauzon is, has he done enough to earn a right to fight for the belt?

My initial reaction to this question is no, as there are other 155-pound fighters who have more wins in the UFC. But Dana White is leaning more toward giving Pettis another fight with Henderson. In the post-fight press conference on Saturday, White stated, “I think he’s gonna get it,” in reference to Pettis’ chances.

Pettis is certainly a future UFC champion in the making at only 25 years old, but I originally thought two other guys deserved to fight for the belt right now. Those two names are Jim Miller and Nate Diaz, who will be fighting at UFC on Fox 3 on May 5. Miller is 10-2 in the UFC, while Diaz is 10-5. If you’re going by UFC record and body of work, the winner of this bout should get the next title shot.

But I’m not going to argue with the decision, once it is made official. Pettis has fought and defeated Henderson before and is capable of doing it again. I expect this match-up to be announced very soon, as the UFC is trying to make as many lightweight title fights in 2012 as possible.

Ryan Bader vs. Alexander Gustafsson

In the co-main event, Ryan “Darth” Bader overcame the odds to defeat former light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson by decision. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 211, as Jackson came in six pounds overweight.

Everyone knew that “Rampage” wasn’t serious for this fight, but you still have to give Bader credit. He played a smart game plan, staying away from the bombs of his opponent, and took Jackson down a couple of times to outpoint him.

Bader has stepped into the Octagon with some of the best in the division and has potential to fight for the title someday. But for now, he needs to take out other rising stars like himself to get to that point.

Aside from Bader, another phenom in the 205-pound mix is Alexander Gustafsson, a Swedish striker. Gustafsson has won four straight, all by either knockout or submission. This 25-year-old is the next big thing in the sport and would be an excellent opponent for Bader.

But before Gustafsson and Bader is seriously discussed, the Swede will first have to defeat Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Gustafsson will meet “Little Nog” in Sweden on April 14 in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 2.

If Nogueira comes out on top in that fight, the UFC will go in another direction when dealing with Bader. Bader and Nogueira have already met once before at UFC 119, where Bader won by decision.

Mark Hunt vs. Travis Browne/Chad Griggs winner

“Super Samoan” Mark Hunt put his MMA record above .500 with a big win over Cheick Kongo. The former K-1 champion is now on a two-fight winning streak and is quietly making his way up the heavyweight ladder.

Mark Hunt (L) battles Cheick Kongo (MMA Fighting)

Even with an unimpressive MMA record, this guy has done so much in his fighting career. Now with two wins in a row under his belt, Hunt should deserve some credit.

I’m not saying he is suddenly a top-ten heavyweight just yet, but if he looks like he did on Saturday, he’ll get there eventually.

Another slugfest in the division expected to happen soon is Travis Browne against Chad Griggs. The two have been announced to be competing at UFC 145, which takes place in Atlanta on April 21.

Browne is undefeated in his career, with three of his 12 wins coming inside the Octagon. Browne is from Hawaii and is known for his knockouts, of which he has nine on his resume.

Griggs is one of the Strikeforce heavyweights that is making the transition over to the UFC since the division is being scrapped in Strikeforce. In his time with the promotion, “Grave Digger” performed well, winning all of his fights by knockout or submission.

Whoever comes out of this fight on top would be a great match-up for Hunt. Both Browne and Griggs are strikers, just as Hunt is, and the fight would keep fans on the edge of their seats.

Jake Shields vs. Johny Hendricks/Josh Koscheck winner

The most crucial win of the night was earned by Jake Shields, who defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama by decision to avoid losing three in a row.

The decision may not have been what some expected, but a win is a win. Shields will now move forward in his quest to getting back into title contention.

Two other fighters who are looking to earn a shot at the belt are Johny Hendricks and Josh Koscheck, who will fight at UFC on Fox 3 in New Jersey on May 5.

Hendricks shocked many fans around the world at UFC 141, where he knocked out top contender Jon Fitch in just 12 seconds. “Big Rig” has always been overlooked, but finally got his chance to display how much power he has in his hands to go along with a solid wrestling game.

His opponent will be one of the most hated men in the UFC, Josh Koscheck. Ever since losing to champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 124, “Kos” has been focused on getting back to the top with wins over Matt Hughes and Mike Pierce. His last win wasn’t all that impressive, but he still possesses high-level wrestling along with a good boxing attack.

Once Hendricks and Koscheck go to war, the winner should fight Shields next. This won’t be easy for the former Strikeforce champion by any means though. Shields has witnessed a guy with power in his hands before when he fought Jake Ellenberger, and that didn’t turn out so well. Hendricks and Koscheck have just as much power as Ellenberger.

Tim Boetsch vs. Mark Munoz

Tim Boetsch (MMA Fighting)

In the biggest comeback of the night, and year for that matter, Tim Boetsch survived losing the first two rounds to defeat Yushin Okami by TKO in round three.

Boetsch has now come out of nowhere, put away a guy who recently took on Anderson Silva, and is quietly sneaking into title contention. Ever since moving down from 205 pounds, “The Barbarian” has dominated at middleweight, going 3-0 at this weight class.

He is one of the biggest guys in the division, but how would Boetsch fare against someone who has a similar frame as him – someone like Mark Munoz, who is one of the best wrestlers in the middleweight division?

Munoz was expected to fight Chael Sonnen to determine who would be considered the No. 1 contender in the division, but Munoz had to pull out due to injury. If Munoz heals quickly and is ready to return to the Octagon, this fight could potentially be booked.

Hatsu Hioki vs. Jose Aldo

One of the most impressive performances at UFC 144 was displayed by Japan’s own Hatsu Hioki, who earned the judges’ nod over Bart Palaszewski in a huge featherweight bout.

Hioki is considered the No. 2-ranked featherweight in the world by many and proved that against “Bartimus.” Whether it was standing or on the mat, Hioki controlled his opponent to give himself two UFC wins.

With Chad Mendes failing to capture the belt from champion Jose Aldo, the division is wide open and Hioki will get his long-awaited UFC championship fight.

While it’s not yet official, there is no other opponent right now in the featherweight division that is worthy to face Aldo. When Hioki and Aldo fight, Hioki will give the Brazilian a test, but will have to be even better than he was on Saturday to earn the gold.

Photo: Benson Henderson yells out at UFC 144 (MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.