When Ben Henderson walked to the Octagon on Saturday night, he 25 minutes or less away from putting his name in the UFC record book. Had Henderson defeated Anthony Pettis in the main event of UFC 164 it would have been his fourth successful defense of the UFC lightweight title, breaking the tie he was in with B.J. Penn with three defenses.
Less than five minutes after the fight began Henderson's right arm was hanging limp inside his sponsor tee shirt, while Pettis' right arm was raised in victory as UFC president Dana White strapped the lightweight title belt around his waist.
The end came surprisingly fast for Henderson. It also came in a manner that not many would have predicted. Pettis used an armbar from his guard to force the verbal submission from Henderson, a freshly minted black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, who had only been submitted once before in his professional career.
For Henderson, it was the second time he lost a title fight to Pettis. The first was in December 2010 when Pettis earned a unanimous decision victory to wrest the WEC lightweight title from Henderson. That fact led White to say during the post-fight media scrum that Henderson would not get a rematch with Pettis.
On Monday, Henderson's manager, Malki Kawa appeared on The MMA Hour and discussed his client's first loss in eight fights in the UFC:
I think he handled it as best as he could. He definitely had his moment backstage. I sat there, and I watched it, and that was probably one of the things that got me because I never really felt so helpless as a manager before. I've always been able to do something about it. This was the one time where I kind of sat there and watched him and didn't know what to do. Do you say ‘great job, better luck next time.'? Do you say, ‘Hey, not your night.'? It broke my heart.
At the same time I watched a guy kind of say, ‘okay, this happened, it's time to move on from this and I'm going to come back with a vengeance.' He did this once before, and you saw what happened to (Mark) Bocek and Jim Miller, he dominated those guys. I kind of feel sorry for whoever he's going to fight next because I know this guy is going to take it all out on whoever is next. He's going to prove a point, and he's going to make a run for it again.
The loss dropped Henderson from the top of the UFC rankings, but he didn't fall far, exchanging places with freshly crowned champion Pettis as the number one ranked fighter in the division.
What's next for Henderson is unknown, but Kawa feels he should be matched up against another top contender as soon as possible, allowing Henderson to work his way back toward another title shot.
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- UFC Fight Night 28: Francisco Trinaldo vs. Piotr Hallmann Dissection
- UFC 164 results: Gracie breakdown of Anthony Pettis' arm bar win over Ben Henderson with Lyoto Machida
- Interview Exclusive: Joe Rogan Explains Everything, Part II
- Glory kickboxing coming to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York with shows to air on Spike TV
- UFC fighter rankings: Pettis enters P4P list, many other changes