Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Ben Henderson and Josh Thomson squared off for a potential title shot in the main event of last night's (Jan. 25, 2014) UFC on FOX 10 event from United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Henderson came in on a mission after losing the belt to Pettis at UFC 164 in Aug. 2013. He had his hands full with the highly experienced Thomson, who had the momentum of having become the first man to finish Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 7.
Crucial Lightweight positioning was on the line, with a potential title shot awaiting the winner. Both fighters were former champions looking to prove they were the second best lightweight in mixed martial arts (MMA). Unfortunately, neither fighter made a definite case to fight for the belt.
Let's take a look back at the hotly debated contest.
The pivotal bout began with Henderson throwing one of his trademark kicks. Thomson quickly moved in with a bodylock slam, instantly taking "Smooth's" back and looking for a submission. Henderson had good defense and rose to his feet to get out of trouble. He clinched with Thomson, pushing him up against the cage before tripping "Punk." Thomson got back to his feet but was locked in a rarely seen standing arm triangle. Thomson scrambled out and dumped Henderson as a wild first round came to a close.
Henderson landed a big body shot to open the second, then a knee in the same area "Smooth" clinched up against the cage again as the action slowed down and was restarted. Henderson was taken down again as Thomson gained his back with another body triangle. Henderson escaped to land a big uppercut to the body. The fighters traded leg kicks then got into a heated exchange. Thomson caught a kick to close the round.
Henderson came out aggressive in the third, throwing Thomson to the ground and looking to take his back. He pushed the pace with more clinching and a hard kick to the body. Thomson went for a takedown but "Smooth" stayed on his feet. He continued to work the body until Thomson briefly took him down. Thomson appeared to have injured his right hand significantly as the third round ended.
Henderson threw some hard kicks to open the fourth, but Thomson responded well with a takedown. Henderson looked for a triangle on the ground, but was spun around by "Punk." Thomson kept the wrestling level high, slamming Henderson and taking his back yet again. "Smooth" fixed his hair and Thomson pumped up the crowd.
This fight was destined for a fifth round, and Henderson stalked down Thomson with another big body shot to open it. He followed with a loud knee, and then Thomson cracked him with a big punch. The crowd was restless as Thomson knocked down Henderson with a low trip. It was obvious that his right hand was giving him a ton of trouble.
But Thomson grabbed a kick and threw Henderson, who recovered into a clinch. "Smooth" blasted Thomson with a body shot as the crowd booed the fight's end.
They also booed when "Smooth's" split decision victory was announced. It was another controversial win that many thought could have gone the other way. But the official scorecards revealed how Henderson won by the narrowest of margins.
Henderson now finds himself in a strange position. He did nothing to dispel his quickly growing reputation as somewhat of a boring fighter, and that's going to hurt his chances at another title shot. Henderson will likely have to win against another top opponent before he's put into consideration for a third shot at "Showtime."
A rematch with Gilbert Melendez, whom "Smooth" defeated with another split decision last year, could be in the works for Henderson.
Thomson showed a ton of heart in fighting through a broken hand, and he almost won the bout nonetheless. He shouldn't fall too much with the loss and could get another Top 10 bout after he heals up. In terms of rankings, Thomson could fight Khabib Nurmagomedov next, but the two are teammates at American Kickboxing Academy. The winner of March 8's Michael Johnson vs. Melvin Guillard also presents an interesting proposition for "Punk."
He's an experienced and tough fighter who may have earned a title shot if he was only able to use his right hand last night. "Punk" pondered retirement after breaking his hand, so we'll have to see what his next move is.
Benson Henderson didn't gain any new supporters with his controversial win over a hobbled Josh ‘Punk' Thomson at FC on FOX 10. Does ‘Smooth' still have much to prove before he fights for the gold once again?