Josh Thomson's legacy could very well resemble that of BJ Penn if he'd been able to keep healthy throughout his entire career. He's a massively skilled fighter whose body did not let him live up to all that he could have accomplished.
His body almost cost him again tonight, with Thomson seeming to think he broke his hand/thumb after the second round of his fight with Benson Henderson. Thomson was able to gut through the injury though and get to the final decision. Judging by the immediate reaction on my Twitter timeline, the vast majority of fans and media thought that Thomson pulled off the win.
Just as many people said they expected Henderson to win yet another controversial decision.
Those people were right.
Thomson only won the fight on one of the three official scorecards. A 48-47 scorecard for Henderson wasn't inexcusable, but the 49-46 card that was turned in by one judge seems to make little sense in the immediate moments following the bout.
Henderson's career is littered with incredibly close, if not controversial, decision victories. It's one of those things where it will be interesting to see how his career is remembered after he hangs up the gloves. He may well be remembered as one of the true greats, or he may be remembered as a sort of strange case of a guy who seemed to catch every break without making many "clear statements."
Either way, it was another interesting and entertaining fight that saw two talented guys test each other in different ways.
- Not that Stipe Miocic has anything to be ashamed of, but his fight with Gabriel Gonzaga didn't really do anything to cement him as a guy who is the future of heavyweight MMA. Then again, at 31 years old, he isn't really in "prospect status." So in his thirties and seemingly talented but limited, it's questionable how much farther he's going to get in the sport.
- Donald Cerrone is one of the guys that comes out of tonight looking good. Not that Adriano Martins was a big name, but Cerrone had a hgihlight reel head kick knockout that almost certainly won him the kind of bonus he claimed to really need due to financial woes. Cerrone against Nurmagomedov is a popular fight for a lot of people, and it certainly wouldn't suck.
- Jeremy Stephens looked good against Darren Elkins. Elkins isn't an easy out but he's not so great that you can say it's predictive of long-term success at 145 for Stephens.
- Alex Caceres put a bit of a hold on the Sergio Pettis hype, really testing him for three rounds and pulling off a rear naked choke at the end of the final round after Pettis made a bad decision in trying for a takedown. Pettis is far from "exposed," but this is why not everyone was in such a rush to bring him to the UFC.
- I also have no issues admitting that I was wildly off in thinking Caceres couldn't hack it in the UFC. He's really improving and has a dynamic style that provides him with the opportunity to win in most situations the fight could end up in.
- Daron Cruickshank is really hard to handle when he's letting his offense go. He can't just spam crazy strikes like a video game character from bell to bell, but he has those moments where it seems like he can do whatever he wants and land. He had that tonight when he finished Mike Rio with a spinning head kick and then a flurry of punches.