Benson Henderson (red) and Rustam Khabilov (blue) fight during their lightweight bout during UFC Fight Night 42 at Tingley Coliseum. Henderson won via fourth round submission. Photo by Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
Former UFC lightweight champion Benson "Smooth" Henderson earned his first submission victory in four years when he forced Rustam Khabilov to tap out in the fourth round in the main event of UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque.
Henderson re-established himself as a contender for the lightweight belt by beating Khabilov, who nevertheless made a good account of himself in the early rounds.
But Henderson proved that he was the better man in the fourth round, rocking Khabilov with a right uppercut, and then using a rear naked choke that forced the Russian to tap out at the 1:16 mark.
“The victory was good. It was the same as all my other victories inside the UFC Octagon,” said Henderson, who used leg kicks in the second round to wear down Khabilov.
The first round saw both fighters feel each other out, though Khabilov landed some impressive counters. He also landed a takedown in the second, but Henderson recovered quickly and scored a takedown of his own.
Henderson tried for a guillotine choke in the third round, but Khabilov was able to escape, and then registered a takedown of the former champion. “Smooth” did not panic, however, and managed to reverse their position as the round ended.
By the fourth round, however, Khabilov was starting to look gassed and Henderson took control.
Henderson was, of course, asked about who he wanted to face in his next fight, but the former champion merely said: “Anybody who wants to fight for the belt, come see me.”
Henderson took home a $50,000 Submission of the Night bonus.
“Bendo” improved to 21-3 while Khabilov lost for only the second time in 19 fights.
It was Henderson’s first submission win since 2010, when he submitted Donald Cerrone at the World Extreme Cagefighting.
In the undercard, John Dodson also re-entered the flyweight title conversation after a stoppage victory over John Moraga.
Dodson connected on a knee to Moraga’s face towards the end of the second round that caused blood to pour out of the latter’s nose.
Dodson tried to finish the bout then, but Moraga was able to survive.
The fight was stop by the ring physician, however, giving Dodson the stoppage victory and allowing him to hike his record to 17-6.
In another fight, Diego Sanchez received a controversial split decision victory over Ross Pearson.