It wasn't pretty, but it never really is for Ben Henderson lately.
Apart from his drubbing of Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 5, has there been a recent "Bendo" fight that has not stirred controversy?
His fight last night against Josh Thomson, which served as UFC on FOX 10 main event from United Center in Chicago., Ill., had No. 1 Lightweight contender implications on the line. "The Punk" was next in line for division champion Anthony Pettis and Henderson could have capitalized on that opportunity with an impressive performance
It didn't happen (watch full fight video highlights here).
On the contrary, Henderson outpointed Thomson on the judge's scorecards, winning via split decision. It was a close fight, and many argued that Thomson did enough to win the bout (apart from busting up his hand in the process).
That still does not change the outcome, and truth be told, this is what we have come to expect with Henderson. Just ask company president Dana White, who branded Henderson a "grinder" in important fights rather than a "finisher."
Repeated close calls will do that, but it's not like "Bendo" has an unlikable attitude or walks around arrogantly after these wins, either. He remains one of the most humble and likable characters on the roster.
With that being said, did Henderson do enough to deserve another title fight with Pettis?
Henderson lost the WEC Lightweight championship to Pettis at WEC 53, and this past summer, he dropped another to "Showtime," losing his UFC Lightweight championship in the process. It's safe to say Pettis is his Kryptonite. And his performance last night, combined with his previous to contests against Pettis, gives us no reason to believe a fight with Pettis would go differently in a third match.
Thomson controlled Henderson during the fight more times than "Smooth" would have wanted, and quite honestly, he really did not do enough to convince the masses that a rubber match with Pettis is even sellable at this point.
With that out of the way, Henderson and Donald Cerrone had a friendly, back-and-forth discussion at the post-fight press conference, and Henderson said he wants no part of Cerrone again. Is he scared?
That's because Henderson beat Cerrone twice in the same year back at WEC 43 and then WEC 48. (Ironic that we cancel out a duel with Cerrone, which looks a lot like Henderson's situation with Pettis.)
T.J. Grant is still on the sidelines, and until he gets cleared, we really cannot match him up with anyone. He would give "Smooth" a decent challenge; however, who knows when the Canadian could make his comeback?
Since Henderson established himself as the No. 2-ranked lightweight in the world right now whether you like it or not, all fingers point to someone he is all too familiar with ... and may have unfinished business to handle.
Gilbert Melendez was supposed to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 170, but since that fight has been scrapped and "The Eagle" may meet "El Nino's" Scrap Pack partner, Nate Diaz, instead, that leaves the former Strikeforce champion without an opponent.
It was weird, too, that we were offered no explanation as to why Melendez and Nurmagomedov was canceled. Maybe because Diaz was better suited for the rising lightweight. Or, maybe, the company knew something we did not at the time and left the talented Melendez open to see how this fight would pan out?
Maybe that's an awful conspiracy to even suggest, but you can't deny that Henderson versus Melendez makes sense right now.
At UFC on FOX 7, Henderson was awarded a razor-thin split decision victory over Melendez, a match that was actually closer than the one we saw last night.
Why not do it over, with another five round contest to truly see who the best fit for Pettis would be in his July return to the Octagon?
Yes, Melendez only has two UFC fights to his name, yet has everyone forgotten about his Strikeforce accomplishments and that he was widely considered as the best 155-pound fighter outside of the UFC for years?
Plus, unless we get another close call, we will see if all these decisions play an impact in Henderson's ranking as one of the best fighters today or if he merits that tag.
For complete coverage on UFC on FOX 10: "Henderson vs. Thomson" check out our story stream here.