Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson continues his welterweight journey this weekend at UFC Fight Night 79 against battle-tested veteran Jorge Masvidal.
“Smooth,” who’s extremely proud of his Korean heritage, was a slam dunk to headline the promotion’s first foray into South Korea. Henderson had originally been slated to face Thiago Alves in the main event but the Brazilian was forced out due to an injury. This new matchup makes for a very strong alternative.
Henderson’s initial 170-pound appearance couldn’t have gone any better as he stunned Brandon Thatch with a fourth-round submission triumph at Fight Night 60. He’s gone 10-3 during his Octagon tenure. The 32-year-old’s athleticism, solid all-around skills and cardio have been key ingredients in his claiming gold in two different organizations. He was also a 155-pound titlist during his days in the WEC. Henderson has the tools to remain a key figure in either the lightweight or welterweight divisions. His recent willingness to take on anyone has raised his stock even further, while adding to his fan base.
Henderson has been involved in some entertaining contests over the years against high-quality competition. He’s had memorable battles against the likes of Frankie Edgar, Donald Cerrone, Clay Guida and Anthony Pettis. This weekend’s clash in Seoul against “Gamebred” is likely to produce another hotly-contested affair. As we look ahead to this weekend’s fight card, here are the top five performances of Henderson’s MMA career.
5. Benson Henderson vs. Brandon Thatch (UFC Fight Night 60)
Henderson clearly saw something that a lot of people didn’t when he agreed to move up to 170-pounds to tangle with the dangerous Thatch. Henderson would face a significant size disadvantage against a much larger opponent. Thatch was seen an exciting future welterweight prospect after recording consecutive first-round finishes, while Henderson had dropped two straight, including a stunning knockout at the hands of Rafael dos Anjos.
Henderson was unfazed from the start and utilized an impressive body attack to hang tough against Thatch in their main event clash in Colorado on February 14, 2015. “Rukus” had some strong moments in the first two rounds, but Henderson would take over the contest by taking Thatch into rare deep waters. After securing a takedown in the fourth frame, Henderson would finish the show in grand style by forcing Thatch to submit to a rear-naked choke. It was a sensational way to begin his welterweight campaign.
4. Benson Henderson vs. Clay Guida (UFC on FOX 1)
Henderson and Guida engaged in a frenetic three-round clash at UFC on FOX 1 in Anaheim. The lightweight title eliminator on Nov. 12, 2011 more than lived up to the hype in producing the Fight of the Night and one of the best clashes of the entire year.
Henderson would showcase his improved striking by dropping Guida in a wild exchange in the opening minute of the fight. “The Carpenter” would show his grit with a solid rally in the final minute of the first-round and had Henderson fighting off a submission attempt.
There would be plenty of exciting exchanges and scrambles over the next two rounds with Henderson getting the unanimous decision victory. The exciting contest showcased his superior grappling skills and submission defense. The always game Guida saw his four-fight win streak come to an end.
3. Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz (UFC on FOX 5)
Of the three successful UFC title defenses that Henderson would make, his victory against Diaz was by far his most dominant performance. He would earn a lopsided unanimous decision victory in Seattle on Dec. 8, 2012 in the headliner of UFC on FOX 5.
Henderson cruised to victory by utilizing debilitating leg kicks to hamper his opponent’s mobility. He even resorted to the unusual, but effective tactic of throwing punches at his opponent’s damaged leg. He’d deck Diaz twice with punches and would employ his physical strength to secure takedowns as well. Henderson would leave Diaz battered and bruised after a near-flawless 25-minute effort. It was a rare sight to see the trash-talking challenger nullified offensively the way that he was against Henderson.
2. Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar I (UFC 144)
This would be a tremendously competitive title clash on Feb. 26, 2012 in Japan at UFC 144. After a compelling five-round battle it was “Smooth” who would claim the belt by unanimous decision. It was a solid display from both men as they showcased the elite skills and heart that have made both of them champions.
There was very little separating them after a hard-fought 25 minutes of action. The biggest single strike was a devastating upkick in the dying moments of the second-round from Henderson that dazed Edgar and left him a bloody mess. Henderson also had Edgar in trouble in the fourth round when he was forced to ward off a deep guillotine submission attempt. The instant classic would end with Henderson raining punches down on Edgar in the final seconds of the bout.
Not surprisingly, the contest produced the Fight of the Night at the Saitama Super Arena and was one of the most compelling matchups of the year. The two would square off again at UFC 150, with Henderson retaining his title via split-decision.
1. Benson Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone II (WEC 48)
While their first meeting at WEC 43 was a sensational five-round battle that saw Henderson earn a unanimous decision to claim the interim title, there would be no need to go to the judges’ scorecards in their rematch. Their highly-anticipated second meeting went down at WEC 48 in Sacramento on April 24, 2010.
Henderson started strong against a tentative Cerrone and would secure a surprising first-round finish. He utilized impressive knees to Cerrone’s head and leg and would eventually take him down. A scramble after some Henderson ground-and-pound strikes would see the champion catch Cerrone in a tight guillotine-choke. He’d get the tap at the 1:57 mark to retain his title. Henderson also picked up a Submission of the Night bonus for his effort. It’s the only time in Cerrone’s 35-fight career that he’s been submitted.