Opinions split on Henderson-Melendez
It's not very often you hear boos while someone is trying to propose.
But Saturday's UFC on FOX 7 event from San Jose was not your normal fight night.
The evening included a UFC-record eight knockouts on the entire card, which was the first show in the new UFC on FOX series to include several talented fighters from the former Strikeforce circuit.
The night began with a brutal technical knockout by welterweight Matt Brown over Jordan Mein (highlights). There was also a thunderous head-kick by a former UFC face, with lightweight Josh Thomson (in his first UFC fight since 2004) delivering Nate Diaz his first career KO defeat (highlights). And in the other highly anticipated matchup, local heavyweight Daniel Cormier remained undefeated (highlights) in a steady decision win over Frank Mir.
But the biggest buzz was reserved for lightweight champion Benson Henderson and fan favorite Gilbert Melendez, a native of San Jose. A heavy pro-Melendez crowd witnessed the first national-television UFC on FOX event in San Jose, and got quite a show in a main event that lasted the full five rounds.
Despite Henderson scoring a critical third-round takedown, the judges' scorecards were as close as they could get — officially 48-47, 47-48, 48-47. But that didn't stop fans from reacting angrily upon hearing Henderson had won the split-decision over Melendez.
Then it truly got weird. As Melendez dropped to the Octagon mat in a heap, agonizing over the controversial loss, just a few feet away the reigning champion Henderson also dropped down — to one knee, as he offered his girlfriend Maria Magana the wedding bling.
"I love you. I'm not perfect. I never have been, but you make me happier every single day than any man has a right to be. I love you. Will you marry me?"
The boos quieted for a moment, but after Magano accepted more boos rained down on the newly engaged.
"There's a lot of bigger things than fighting, and I had to take care of one of those things tonight," Henderson (aka "Smooth") said to UFC analyst Joe Rogan after winning two big prizes on the evening.
OK, so first, the fight — even UFC President Dana White admitted afterward that the champ, now 7-0 in his UFC career, has the habit of squeaking by.
"It's a Ben Henderson fight," said White. "All his fights go to decisions — and controversial decisions."
"I didn't have any doubt," said Henderson. "I knew it was close, but I thought I won. ... I started slow because Gil made me start slow. But after the first round, I felt like I was winning."
. . .
BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT PROPOSAL?
For one, UFC ring girl extraordinaire Arianny Celeste loves the proposal:
What a great proposal! Icing on the cake , thankyou San Jose! @ufconfox— Arianny Celeste (@AriannyCeleste) April 21, 2013
. . .
However, sports TV personality Michelle Beadle does not feel the love:
@michelledbeadle disgraceful should have lost the fight for that corny proposal. I felt embarrassed for Henderson— Michael Gomez (@Gomez83M) April 21, 2013
. . .
Arda Ocal, a Canadian boxing/UFC/MMA announcer with approzimately 50,000 followers, sums up the confused crowd:
Wow, not even Benson Henderson's marriage proposal could away this crowd from booing his split decision win. #ufconfox7— Arda Ocal (@arda_ocal) April 21, 2013
. . .
Among fans, there are plenty of haters:
a proposal only works in the cage after a KO not split decision one more reason to hate henderson— C4 ThaiBoxer (@C4LionHeart) April 21, 2013
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Then there are the skeptics:
Benson Henderson vs. the odds: no marriage based on a proposal made after a split-decision #ufc victory has ever lasted. Look it up.— Joseph Motiki (@JosephMotiki) April 21, 2013
. . .
Some are cynics:
Love that Benson Henderson won, and the proposal was so cute. How classy that the audience boos through it. Smh. #ufconfox— Gracie (@GracieDoll28) April 21, 2013
. . .
And of course, the left-field conspiracy theory (though would he have proposed if he lost the bout? And about those UFOs ... ):
Ben Henderson trying to hide his true defeat with the proposal— ¿¿¿¿¿¿¿ (@RyanArtiles) April 21, 2013
. . .
AND OF COURSE, THERE'S THE OL' MARS-VENUS THING . . .
You mean most women like seeing men drop to one knee and propose? Ya don't say?!?!
Melendez wasn't even close! Henderson deserved that win! Plus that was cute proposal! #ufc
— Jackie#FutureMrs.Lee (@JacquelineD050) April 21, 2013
Henderson's proposal to his girl after he won the fight was so cute. ¿¿— ¿ (@ariannahelluuur) April 21, 2013
Ben Henderson earned brownie points with me after that proposal— Alyssa Edwards (@lyssiedotcom) April 21, 2013
Awh! Henderson's proposal!!!! Sooooo cuuuuute!— Mariah Dakota Leigh (@MariahDakota) April 21, 2013
Yay Benson Henderson won! And how romantic was that proposal!? #ufconfox7— Hannah Grant (@HighlanderRoyal) April 21, 2013
. . .
Meanwhile, some of the dudes out there . . . Well, what'd ya expect?
Now i wish henderson would of lost so his marriage proposal could have been ruined— Socratés Hempstead (@CokaNostra777) April 21, 2013
Hey, Ben Henderson. If you want the nickname, 'smooth', don't do the proposal when the word SPLIT was shouted just a minute ago. #ufconfox7— Ben Terry (@ben_hamin12) April 21, 2013
Didn't care for Henderson's cheesy mid-ring proposal. #UFC— Bobby T. (@Briganto) April 21, 2013
. . .
WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT, REMEMBER THIS?