Get the digestif ready ... it's time to put on the Joe Silva and Sean Shelby rubber masks.
UFC Fight Night 42: "Henderson vs. Khabilov" took place last Sat. night (June 7, 2014) from inside Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, providing observers with a good scrap in the main event, as well as a great laugh when the co-main event's decision was read.
Benson Henderson scored his first submission victory in over four years, stopping Rustam Khabilov with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round of their contest. It was a hard-fought battle, as "Smooth" had his hands full against the well rounded Dagestani. The former UFC lightweight champion had to mix up his game, be wary of grappling exchanges, and found himself in a gritty battle against an underdog who was up in his face for the majority of the fight (check out the highlights here).
"Smooth" is now 2-0 since losing the lightweight strap to Anthony Pettis, despite a controversial victory over Josh Thomson.
Speaking about controversies, Diego Sanchez was awarded a split decision victory over Ross Pearson in one of the worst judging decisions ever in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). "Nightmare" was being pummeled for the course of three rounds, having to regroup after being dropped by the Brit, too (highlights here).
If anything, Sanchez won the battle of showmanship, raising his hands and shaking his head every time "Real Deal" tagged him with a good shot.
Also victorious on the main card was John Dodson, who scored a stoppage over John Moraga after destroying his nose with a brutal knee. The doctor halted the bout at the end of the second round, much to the dismay of "Chicano."
Other main card winners include Rafael dos Anjos, Piotr Hallman, and Bryan Caraway.
Without further ado, let's match up the main card winners:
Winner: Bryan Caraway
Who He Should Fight Next: Iuri Alcantara
Why They Should Fight: Fish hooking aside, Miesha Tate's main squeeze has a whopping six-straight submission victories in his last six wins, which is quite incredible. He's faced tough opponents, holding a UFC record of 4-1, but Iuri Alcantara would be a stiff test to say the least.
The Brazilian is coming off a destruction of Vaughan Lee at last weekend's UFC Fight Night 41, and a battle of two rising bantamweights could be just what the doctor ordered for this blossoming division.
"Marajo" has already dealt with the pressure of big fights, losing to Urijah Faber in the organization, but can Caraway keep his composure against what would be arguably his toughest challenge?
Winner: Piotr Hallman
Who He Should Fight Next: Rashid Magomedov
Why They Should Fight: Hallman submitted a fading legend last night, which means he's starting to get his name out there inch-by-inch.
A fight versus Rashid Magomedov, who beat Rodrigo Damm last weekend, would be a decent lightweight scrap involving two divisional prospects looking to grow inside the Octagon.
"Highlander" certainly has the experience, being 18-1 in his professional career, while the Polish standout isn't far off with a record of 15-2, including winning two championships on the European regional scene.
The timing is right, considering their place and recent victories in an overflowing division.
Winner: Rafael dos Anjos
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Josh Thomson vs. Michael Johnson at UFC on FOX 12
Why They Should Fight: The Brazilian was on a tear before losing his last fight, but he made amends with a victory over Jason High last night.
It may have been a little controversial, yet he was the better performer throughout the bout. There are many 155-pound fighters he could meet in his next outing, and the winner of Josh Thompson vs. Michael Johnson could be one of them.
It's not exactly a step up in competition, but it's a big fight, regardless of who emerges out of San Jose as the victor. Also, dos Anjos was making a case for title contention, so he could start from where he left off in Albuquerque against someone who would be doing the same.
Winner: John Dodson
Who He Should Fight Next: Winner of Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov at UFC 174
Why They Should Fight: The only reason this match up is being suggested is because it allows the possibility for future match ups to materialize when it comes to the flyweight belt.
"Magician" would be better suited to face the winner of Ian McCall vs. Brad Pickett at UFC Fight Night 46 in Dublin, but that would mean two contenders would be facing each other to cancel each other out, instead of keeping the championship matches rolling.
Unless Pickett wins, both Dodson and McCall would be rematches for "Mighty Mouse," but let's face facts and say the Albuquerque-based flyweight deserves a second shot at the champion, since his speed and power have looked lethal as of late.
Dodson against Bagautinov would be something we haven't seen before, and if the Greg Jackson-trained combatant gets another crack at gold, who's to say he wouldn't trouble the current champion like he did in the opening rounds?
Winner: Diego Sanchez
Who He Should Fight Next: Nate Diaz
Why They Should Fight: The truth is Sanchez should be moving towards calling it a day rather than taking fights against big punchers and dangerous opponents in general.
If you dare to call "Nightmare's" win credible last night, you're definitely taking the worst types of hallucinogens the black market has to offer, and he doesn't even deserve a big fight after his performance.
That said, he's been calling out Nate Diaz, who's been AWOL since supposedly turning down fights (which led to the rankings mishap). If these two met inside the Octagon, many would fear for Sanchez's ability to cope with Diaz's high volume of strikes, but if it's the fight he wants, then so be it.
Plus, Diaz may want to avenge his brother Nick's loss to Sanchez almost 10 years ago.
Winner: Benson Henderson
Who He Should Fight Next: Khabib Nurmagomedov
Why They Should Fight: It's the fight that needs to be booked, plain and simple.
"Smooth" was just that in defeating Khabilov last night, and if he wants to continue besting opponents in order to reclaim the lightweight gold, he needs to meet a serious contender who's primed for stardom.
Khabib Nurmagomedov has 22 victories under his belt, unfazed by the competition in UFC thus far, which includes dos Anjos, Pat Healy and Abel Trujillo. He's not far from a title shot, which makes this fight much more meaningful.
It may be presumptuous to assume Henderson's next fight will be against the winner of Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez, yet if these two tussle in a title eliminator bout, it makes a lot more sense to handle the situation that way.
That said, how stimulating would a main event between these two adversaries be?
That's a wrap.
For extensive coverage of UFC Fight Night 42: "Henderson vs. Khabilov," including post-fight recaps, video highlights and more, click here.