While Frankie Edgar had to deal with another controversial decision loss to Benson Henderson at UFC 150, a number of the fighters on the card struggled with the increased altitude in Denver.
Sitting 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver proves a difficult task for any athlete competing in the city with the thinner air, meaning that there is less oxygen available in each breath and a higher risk of dehydration.
Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields returned to the 185-pound weight division, where he took on Colorado’s Ed Herman. Many would think that Herman, who trains locally at altitude, would have the advantage over Shields, but the former champion ground out a unanimous decision victory.
“Fighting at middleweight, I like, but the altitude definitely slowed my pace down,” Shields acknowledged post-fight. “Hopefully next time it won’t be at altitude and I can come here and give a lot more and show the kind of fighter I was.”
Former Coloradan Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone didn’t get to use his altitude advantage over Melvin Guillard recording a first round knockout. After being on the ropes himself early, a big left hand by Guillard connected, followed up by a knee. It wasn’t to be for Guillard, however, who moments later was wobbled by a Cerrone head kick before being floored by a follow-up right hand.
“I grew up in Colorado Springs and my family and friends are all from Denver and I got here a month ago,” said Cerrone. “It takes that long to be able to push yourself at this altitude.”
Undercard fighter Dennis Bermudez put together his own version of the famed Ironman Triathlon in training for his victory over Tommy Hayden.
After Benson Henderson claimed the UFC lightweight title from Frankie Edgar at UFC 144 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan – which was fought at sea level – both fighters included altitude training in their camps for the rematch.
“I know what this air can do to your lungs,” said Henderson. “I’m from Colorado Springs and you have to take this seriously. I’ve been here for three weeks already. You can feel it when you run or spar. You body gives out earlier; you can’t recover as fast.
“I felt I did enough to train for the altitude. I could have pushed on.”