Benson Henderson vs. Rafael Dos Anjos: What We Learned from the Lightweight Tilt

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2014

Mark D. Smith/USA Today

Ending a scintillating night in scintillating fashion, Rafael dos Anjos shocked the world at UFC Fight Night 49 on Saturday when he starched former lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the first round.

A wild haymaker connected out of a scramble and sent Henderson flailing to the mat, where follow-up blows completed what was academic at that point.

The win is unquestionably the biggest of Dos Anjos' career, and it's a crippling loss for Henderson. For fans, though, it was an explosive cherry on top of a night of equally enjoyable action across the board.


What We'll Remember About This Fight

The sight of Henderson, triumphant so many times and in so many ways during his lengthy run at the top of the heap, stopped so violently. For all the times he has eked out a win on a set of scorecards, his greatest loss came in a manner that left absolutely no doubt.


What We Learned About Benson Henderson

That he's beatable.

Aside from Anthony Pettis, no one could claim to have proved that with any proper sincerity at this stage in the game. On Saturday night in Tulsa, Dos Anjos did just that.

There have been cracks in the foundation at times and wins that only narrowly avoided being losses, but this was the first time in a long time that someone truly beat Henderson outside of Pettis.

That's a serious feather in the Brazilian's cap.


What We Learned About Rafael dos Anjos

That he's for real.

His skills have been quietly coming along for a while now, and he's the perfect blend of power and technique. With a stand-up arsenal that's gone from nonexistent to genuinely threatening over the past few years, it's time to consider him one of the very best lightweights on Earth.


What's Next for Henderson

A trip back to the old drawing board, most likely. When he emerges from some time spent pondering this debacle, he may be looking to get into a fight with someone like Bobby Green or Myles Jury or even a rematch of his heavily questioned win over Josh Thomson from earlier this year.


What's Next for Dos Anjos

Only the very best from here on out.

Dos Anjos recently lost to the injured Khabib Nurmagomedov, but perhaps a fight against Eddie Alvarez, should he be successful in his UFC debut next month, could make some sense for later this year.


Follow me on Twitter @matthewjryder!