Smooth was definitely a fitting nickname for one, Benson Henderson on Saturday night, and a fitting way to describe his finish in the main event of UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque, against the #11 ranked Russian, Rustam Khabilov. Henderson had his struggles, having to battle the constant strong takedowns of Khabilov over the first 3 rounds.
In the fourth round, Benson Henderson landed an uppercut–straight left combination that staggered Khabilov momentarily, the brief moment was all Henderson needed to pounce on the back and lock in a rear naked choke–all in one smooth motion. With the submission victory, he achieved his first victory by stoppage in his 10th UFC fight, and his first since 2010–dating back to WEC 48 over Donald Cerrone.
“The belt’s not being defended. Anybody who wants to fight for the belt, come see me,” said the #2 ranked lightweight in the UFC, sending a message to the rest of the division.
Even with his first finish in the UFC, Henderson was not overly excited, staying true to what he has said in the past about taking a W anyway he can get it.
“Getting the W is the same as all the other W’s. I’m just after good performances, whether it’s a submission or whether it’s a knockout,” Henderson said. “Sometimes you get good finishes, sometimes you don’t. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.
Henderson would prove, as he has in the past, to be a difficult fighter to keep on the mat once the opponent landed a takedown. Khabilov was unable to keep Henderson on his back for any significant amount of time in the fight. The fight became a chess match for the first three rounds, with Henderson displaying his grappling to escape from the bottom, and landing a sweep at one point in the fight.
According to the judges’ scorecards, Khabilov was ahead 2 rounds to 1 on two of the scorecards in the fight heading into the 4th round.
At time of stoppage, scores were 29-28, 29-28 for Khabilov (Levi Martinez & Marcos Rosales) and 28-29 for Henderson (Sal D’Amato).
— Mike Chiappetta MMA (@MikeChiappetta) June 8, 2014
“I do my talking inside the octagon” Benson said post-fight in the cage with Jon Anik.
Benson later expanded on his comments at the press conference, relating it to the media influencing himself and other fighters to say certain things for quotes. Reiterating that he does his talking inside the octagon.
“I do my talking inside the octagon. A lot of times your guys’ job is to sell a story. You want us to say this, and to say that—your questions a certain way,” Henderson said. “I’m onto your guys’ tricks, we’re fighters but we’re smart guys too, we’re not all neanderthals.” — “I want to reiterated that I do my talking inside the octagon, this is were I do my talking, so any story you want to write, anything you want to say, judge it off my time in the octagon.”