Frankie Edgar tumbled from his throne of supremacy at UFC 144 thanks to the power and range of his opponent, Benson Henderson.
While Edgar was on the short end of a decision in that matchup, the New Jersey native has a very real chance to make up for the loss tonight in his rematch with Bendo at UFC 150.
His game plan?
Edgar will look to do what he did in that first encounter, but he needs to avoid Henderson's powerful shots in the process.
The up-kick Henderson landed in their first encounter shifted the fight, and Henderson continued to overwhelm him through the fifth and final round. If Edgar can avoid that kind of powerful kick or punch in the rematch, he can successfully work his game for the bout's duration.
This time around, expect Edgar to use his signature movement and quick takedowns to keep Bendo off-balance.
As the fight begins, Edgar will use his footwork to create angles, a boxing style that he is the master of inside the Octagon. No lightweight in the world can match his output and effectiveness when he is at his best, and Bendo is no exception.
Once Edgar batters Bendo a bit with punches, the champion will look to use his kick to create distance and keep the smaller challenger at bay. When this happens, Edgar will catch the kicks and trip Bendo to the canvas.
Being the larger, stronger fighter, Henderson will bounce up quickly, but he will become reluctant to throw kicks as the fight goes on, and this gives Edgar more time to work his boxing.
This is the blueprint for Edgar: Be strong, be fast and be smart. If he can do that, he can unseat Henderson and reclaim the shiny golden belt that was once his.
That said, Bendo has an iron chin and arguably the best submission defense of any lightweight in the world, and this makes him nearly impossible to finish.
Edgar knows this, and he will not exhaust himself going for the finish unless he truly feels Bendo is on the brink of unconsciousness. Edgar will turn this into a points battle, and that is how he can win.
If he fights a smart, calculated fight and manages to not get caught, this fight is his all night. As I said, nobody can match Edgar's speed and boxing prowess at lightweight when he is at his best, and he needs to let Bendo know he is the king at lightweight by using these skills to his full advantage.
Edgar will use jabs, movement and an assortment of takedowns to dethrone Bendo in the rematch. Not to sound boring, but the proof is in the pudding from their first matchup.
It is his easiest, and only, route to victory.