UFC on Fox 10 featured a battle between two former lightweight champions, the recently dethroned ex-UFC champ Ben Henderson, and former Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson. Henderson came in as the comfortable favorite over Thomson, but would he live up to expectations?
Round 1 was all Thomson, who took Henderson down early and got him in a body triangle, winning the positional battle and stifling Henderson's attempts to escape. Henderson eventually got back up, avoided any serious danger, scored a takedown of his own before ending the round with a failed standing arm triangle. The 2nd round was a bit more even, with Henderson landing the harder strikes, particularly to the body. Thomson scored another takedown and again had a body triangle, but Henderson escaped more quickly and the remainder of the round was primarily a striking matchup.
Round 3 was the only real decisive round for Henderson, and it was also the round where it was revealed that Thomson had injured his right hand. Thomson's takedowns were being stuffed, and Henderson was able to pick his spots well and connect on some clean knees and punches. The 4th saw Thomson find a 2nd wind and powerfully drive Henderson to the mat, where Bendo had a weak attempt at a triangle choke easily avoided. When they returned to their feet it was Henderson who was able to get a couple of knees to the thigh and to the body. Thomson closed out the round with another takedown, got Henderson's back and with a body triangle, and finished the remaining seconds by playing up the crowd.
Round 5 was mostly contested on the feet, and Thomson was even able to land a right hand to Henderson's jaw, the same right hand he broke in the 2nd. Henderson kept up his heavy attacks on Thomson's body, while Thomson's best offense was a low kick that swept him off of his feet. The final seconds were fairly inactive, and the scorecards revealed a split decision win for Henderson. Official Result: Ben Henderson def. Josh Thomson via split decision (49-46, 48-47, 47-48).
What was the high point of the fight?
Thomson unexpectedly was able to get Henderson to the ground early in the 1st round, immediately locked in a body triangle, and actively searched for a submission before Henderson got back to his feet. By then Thomson had secured the 1st just on that alone, but it definitely set the tone that Thomson wasn't going to be a pushover for Bendo.
Where do these two go from here?
Henderson (20-3) still hasn't lost consecutive fights in his career, but this wasn't a great display by the former champion. He's yet to finish a fight in the UFC on his 8th win, and with Anthony Pettis still the champion, I find it hard pressed to believe this did anything to justify a 3rd fight with him any time soon. Khabib Nurmagomedov could be the next logical step for "Smooth".
Thomson (20-6, 1 NC) is contemplating retirement per last night's press conference, which would be a shame considering he was one win away from a title shot and lost his title shot outright because of Anthony Pettis' injury. So truthfully speaking I'm not sure where he does go after a devastating loss like this.
Watch now, later, or never?
Later. It wasn't a bad fight by any means, but it wasn't a thrill-a-minute type of contest. And if you want to score this division-altering decision yourself, I certainly wouldn't tell you to skip this fight entirely.