“Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges!” Every combat sports athlete, and most fans, have heard that saying a million times. For most fighters, it is a rule that they live by. However, there is always an exception to the rule, and in the UFC, the exception is named Benson Henderson. Henderson once again proved that he is that exception on January 25 as he earned a split decision victory over Josh Thomson in a fight many believe Thomson won.
The fight started with Thomson quickly taking Henderson down, getting Henderson’s back and locking up a body triangle. The two stayed in this position for most of the round, with Henderson finally escaping the position late in the round. The second round was more even, although after the round it was clear that Thomson had suffered a hand injury. The injury definitely affected the way Thomson fought the rest of the way, as Henderson started landing more punches and kicks.
However, Thomson consistently took Henderson down and dominated the grappling exchanges, including two more times where he took Henderson’s back. Henderson remained calm and was never in real trouble of a submission, but he never had Thomson in a similarly dominant position.
The fight metrics showed that Henderson landed a higher volume of strikes in the fight and was successful on four takedowns. However, Thomson landed four takedowns of his own and did his best work on the mat, where he seemed to outclass Henderson.
The announced scores were 48-47, 47-48 and 49-46, which is almost unfathomable. How any judge could see Henderson winning four rounds to one is hard to believe.
Henderson has now fought nine times in the UFC. He has only lost one of those fights, a first-round submission loss to Anthony Pettis. Unfortunately, all eight of his wins have come by way of decision, including three split decisions. Additionally, both of Henderson’s decision victories over Frankie Edgar were disputed, as was his victory over Gilbert Melendez, and now this.
Thomson has said that he is considering retirement after this loss, in part due to the disappointment that he felt at the decision. He was looking forward to a title shot himself if he had won this fight. As far as the title shot goes, however, Dana White has made it clear that Henderson is not the next in line. Winning is not the only criteria for title shots in the UFC. If Henderson wants another shot, he is going to have to start earning dominant victories.