Benson Henderson submits Rustam Khabilov via rear-naked choke
JUN 08, 2014 1:23a ET
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- There will be no controversial decisions this time around.
Benson Henderson, known for squeaking out razor-thin victories, didn’t have to sweat at the end of this one. He finished Rustam Khabilov long before the judges had to get involved.
Henderson dropped Khabilov with a 1-2 combination up against the cage, pounced and locked in a rear-naked choke, resulting in a submission win at 1:16 of the fourth round Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night here at Tingley Coliseum. Before that, it was an extremely close fight, something Henderson knows a whole lot about.
"I expect to end fights," Henderson told Jon Anik afterward. "I expect to finish every fight."
But Henderson (21-3), the former UFC lightweight champion, had not since he submitted Donald Cerrone in 2010 while still fighting for WEC. All eight of his UFC wins coming in had been by decision. To do this against a tough, durable opponent like Khabilov (17-2) made it even more impressive. It's possible Henderson, who is the No. 2 lightweight in the UFC's contender rankings, is still improving at age 30.
The problem with Henderson is that of his three career losses, two have come against Anthony Pettis, the current man holding the lightweight belt. Henderson didn’t ask for a title shot after beating Khabilov. He asked to fight the next person who wants to get a title shot, making him almost like a gatekeeper to the stars.
Khabilov, 27, fared well against one of the best 155-pound fighters in the world, holding his own for the majority of the three rounds he was in there. He likely won the first round and the second round was tight, though probably for Henderson.
The Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA product and part of the UFC's Dagestan infusion came in as the No. 11-ranked contender. He probably won't slip much and another bout against one of the top 15 guys in the world is likely next.