UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs Khabilov – Sunday Perspective

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

UFC Fight Night Albuquerque featured a entertaining night of fights that culminated with a fantastic submission win for former lightweight champion Benson Henderson.

Benson Henderson cemented his position as the No. 1 ranked lightweight behind champion Anthony Pettis with his fourth round submission win against Rustam Khabilov on Saturday night. The entire card featured an array of stoppages and entertaining scraps, but there were certainly a few exceptions, including a corner stoppage in the Dodson/Moraga fight, and a lackluster co-main event with a highly controversial decision. There was also some questionable reffing at this event, particularly from Raul Porrata, but overall, it was an enjoyable night of fights.

Onto thoughts about the fights:

  • "Smooth" Ben Henderson continued his campaign for a title shot with an emphatic victory over Sambo specialist Rustam Khabilov. The Dagestan native had his moments during the fight, including several takedown attempts and overhand rights, that could have potentially made the difference had the fight gone to a decision. Ultimately, Henderson managed to weather the storm and awaited his opening in the fourth round to earn his first stoppage win since his submission win over Donald Cerrone at WEC 48 in 2010.
  • There is arguably little left for Henderson in the division except for a potential clash with Khabib Nurmagomedov or a rematch against the winner between Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. Since the chances of Henderson getting a title shot in 2014 are slim, he will likely need to win at least another fight in the meantime.
  • Diego Sanchez and Ross Pearson took part in a relatively lackluster match-up in the co-main event of the evening. The bout went to a controversial split decision that favoured the hometown fighter Sanchez, who was clearly emotional in his celebration when the decision was announced. It was an important win for Diego, who snapped a two-fight losing streak with the win on Saturday night. It should be noted that one of the judges scored the fight 30-27 for Sanchez, which added to an abysmal decision, and arguably one of the worst scorecards in recent memory.
  • John Dodson cemented his spot in the upper echelon of the flyweight rankings on Saturday night with a strong showing against a durable opponent in John Moraga. The fight would be stopped following the second round after the cage-side doctor confirmed that Moraga had broken his nose during the bout. While the finish was somewhat anticlimactic, it served the purpose of securing Dodson as one of the top competitors in the flyweight division. It would be hard to argue with him getting the winner next weekend's title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Ali Bagautinov.
  • Rafael dos Anjos rebounded from his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov with a TKO win over Jason High. The Brazilian was in a competitive battle against High, who had dropped down to 155lb. while riding a 2-fight win streak at welterweight, but ultimately found his opening in the second round and landed a barrage of hammerfists to stop High. It was a slightly controversial stoppage though, as many of dos Anjos' shots landed to the back of the head and the prematurity of the stoppage is also debatable. Overall, it was a strong showing for dos Anjos, who picked up his first finish since May, 2012.
  • Piotr Hallmann defeated Yves Edwards via third round rear-naked choke in a contest that was riddled with eye pokes and frustrating interruptions. The Polish fighter controlled the better part of the two-and-a-half rounds of action by pushing the pace with his striking and getting several takedowns as well. Hallmann now improves to 15-2 overall, and 2-1 in the UFC. With the win over the veteran, Hallmann will probably be slotted against a Top 15 opponent in his next outing.  For Yves, it is his first submission loss in eight years and has not won a fight since December, 2012.
  • Bryan Caraway spoiled the party for Erik Perez in the opening fight on the main card, as the No. 14 ranked bantamweight defeated the Mexican native via second round rear-naked choke. Caraway has now won four of his five octagon outings, including two consecutive submission wins in his most recent fights. He will likely get a step up in competition in the form of Top 10 opposition.
  • Sergio Pettis looked good in his decision victory over Yaotzin Meza. The younger brother of UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis earned his second victory with the top promotion, and while he did not get a stoppage win, he fought an intelligent fight and showed off his striking at several points during the bout.
  • Lance Benoist fought for the first time since September 2012, and defeated Bobby Voelker via unanimous decision to put himself at 2-2 in the UFC. For Voelker, he has now lost all four of his fights in the octagon, making it highly unlikely that we will see him fight for the promotion again.
  • Scott Jorgensen defeated Danny Martinez via unanimous decision to secure his spot on the roster. While it was far from his best performance, it marked Jorgensen's first win in 547 days and ensures that he will have at least one more fight in the UFC. Another notable aspect of the fight was former bantamweight title challenger's continuously weakening chin, as Martinez almost finished him early in the second round.
  • Jon Tuck opened up the preliminary portion of the card with a third round submission victory over Jake Lindsey. Tuck maintained command of the fight throughout, whether in the grappling or striking departments, and even had several submission attempts in the third round before finishing the fight with heel strikes to the rib section. Tuck can now work his way back up the lightweight division after suffering the first loss of his career to Norman Parke last year.
  • Patrick Cummins dominated Roger Narvaez on the Fight Pass portion of the fight. After an unceremonious debut against Daniel Cormier, Cummins used his wrestling and takedowns to control Narvaes before finishing him via TKO in the second round. The win marked Cummins' first in the UFC and moves him to 5-1 overall.

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