The main event of UFC Fight Night in Albuquerque was a big lightweight match-up between Ben Henderson and Rustam Khabilov. It was the Dagestan native's toughest test to date and a chance for Henderson to erase the memories of his controversial win over Josh Thomson in January.
In a well-paced opening 5 minutes, it was Khabilov who had the slight upper hand. Khabilov went for his suplex against Henderson but Bendo defended well. The round ended with Henderson throwing a flying knee but Khabilov timed it perfectly and countered with a takedown. Khabilov landed the best strike of the round with an elbow off of a clinch.
Henderson was taken down early in the 2nd but kept an active guard and made it hard for Khabilov to get anything done from the top. He got back to his feet and then had a body lock on Khabilov and took him down into back mount and a body triangle. Khabilov avoided any submission possibilities and exploded out of it. Henderson buckled Khabilov late with two leg kicks before Henderson was countered with a right hand.
Khabilov's lack of striking output worked to Henderson's favor, as it looked clear that he was aiming for hard right hands. Henderson worked for a guillotine only for Khabilov to escape. The highlight of the 3rd was Khabilov taking Henderson down in the final minute, but Henderson bucked him off and scrambled to top position and closed out the round in half-guard.
The tide turned significantly in the 4th round as Henderson rocked Khabilov with an uppercut, and quickly moved in and took his back. From there, Henderson sunk in a rear-naked choke to get the win.
Official Result: Ben Henderson def. Rustam Khabilov via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:16 of round 4.
Stay tuned for more post-fight coverage from Bloody Elbow after a wild night of fights (and judging ... and refereeing) in Albuquerque.