Another Benson Henderson fight, another razor-close decision win for Benson Henderson.
The former UFC lightweight champ took a narrow split decision over a very game Josh Thomson Saturday night in the main event of UFC on Fox 10 in Chicago.
Thomson appeared to have an early edge, landing a takedown on a usually takedown-proof Henderson and gaining control of Henderson's back. Thomson would go on to land multiple takedowns in the fight and more than hold his own in the grappling exchanges that ensued.
But at some point in the opening rounds, Thomson broke the thumb on his right hand. After that, Thomson threw noticeably fewer strikes, and that changed the course of the contest.
In addition, Henderson is a fighter with the athleticism and endurance to go for five full rounds. As such and as usual, Henderson began to gain control later in the bout. Though there were not clear and definitive moments of offense from Henderson, he did begin to get the better of Thomson on the ground and in the clinch, which has long been Bendo's wheel house.
When the fight was complete, the judges' decision—often an adventure regardless of the circumstances—was anyone's guess. They returned the split decision for Henderson by a score of 48-47, 47-48 and 49-46.
The win puts Henderson at 20-3 as a pro. He is a great fighter, but his methodical style has failed to capture the public's imagination. What's more, Henderson is 0-2 against current champion Anthony Pettis, who wrested the title from Bendo back in August.
That mark makes a third matchup highly unlikely, and it puts Henderson in a kind of no-man's land. He can beat everyone but the champ. His next opponent will say a lot about how the UFC views him and his place in the lightweight division.
Thomson is now 20-6 (1). Though he displayed plenty of talent and charisma in the cage, after the fight he wondered aloud at the post-fight news conference whether he would be able to continue as a fighter.
Thomson has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, and he is now 35 years old. If he does elect to remain active, he is a tall order for anyone in the division, including the contenders. He showed that at UFC on Fox 10, even in a losing effort.