UFC Fight Night 49 Results: 3 Fights for Benson Henderson to Take Next

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2014

USA Today

It's probably safe to say no one saw that coming.

Riding a win streak of a couple of fights (19 non-Anthony Pettis fights if you want to get crazy with it) and looking like he'd always be nipping at the champ's heels, Benson Henderson walked into Tulsa, Oklahoma, and got himself knocked out.

The culprit, Rafael dos Anjos, is a grappling ace who has developed the type of technique that accentuates his physical tools nicely and just happened to peak in the biggest fight of his life.

Henderson was the victim for a change, falling to 21-4 in his career and finding himself rudderless in the crowded 155-pound waters of the UFC.

Here are three fights to consider for him going forward.


PAUL BEATY/Associated Press

Josh Thomson

These two met earlier in the year and provided one of the more divisive results in recent history. Thomson looked to get the better of Henderson for much of the bout, but Henderson's focus on activity over damage was enough to sway the judges.

Now, the better part of a year later, they're both in the same place in the UFC anyway: respected veteran contenders coming off surprising losses. Funny how this sport works, isn't it?

With no obvious solution to the matchmaking problem for either man, why not put them together again and give them the chance to work out their issues one more time? After all, Thomson was so flustered by the loss that he openly pondered retirement, and it was the exact type of decision Henderson gets so often that fans were flustered by it too.

The UFC could do worse than booking these two again.


David Becker/Associated Press

Michael Johnson

The man who was booked to face Thomson last month on Fox might also be an interesting fit for Henderson, as he pulled out of that bout due to injury but has otherwise been enjoying quite a resurgence in his career.

Finally capable of applying his athletic gifts to the fight game, Johnson matches up well with Henderson in every imaginable way. Every component of the bout would be a pick 'em on paper, the type of fight that could easily serve to create a new star or prove that an old one isn't ready to burn out just yet.


Reinhold Matay/Associated Press

Khabib Nurmagomedov

No one has been itching to fight Nurmagomedov since he joined the UFC, and it's hard to imagine the lineup to fight Henderson has ever been particularly long either. Though he's presently out with a knee injury, there's reason to be intrigued by Nurmagomedov meeting Henderson in a return bout.

Due to the UFC's schedule, the urgency of booking winners against winners and losers against losers is much less compared to what it was a couple of years ago. There's also the influence of lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and top contender Gilbert Melendez sitting around until December, when their season of The Ultimate Fighter ends and they can fight for the title.

With that in mind, there's a good chance that, though he beat Dos Anjos himself and could easily hold claim to a title shot, the unbeaten Dagestan native may need to take another fight when he's healthy, and that fight should be Henderson.

Almost everyone who's relevant is either booked or hurt and, at least on paper, Nurmagomedov has never been tested by a name as well-known and dangerous as Henderson. Win that fight, and he proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he should be next in line for a crack at gold.


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