Benson Henderson improved his record to 4-0 against Greg Jackson trained fighters, a stat not many can boast of, after his submission win over Rustam Khabilov.
Ben Henderson came into this fight coming off a spilt decision win over Josh Thompson but not having looked overly impressive and in need of a big performance, which he delivered.
In comparison Rustam Khabilov is on a six fight win streak and has only suffered one loss in his professional career, a spilt decision loss in 2011, but he came undone against the talented Henderson.
The fighters showed a lot of respect before the fight and this continued into the cage as they both showed caution with some quick exchanges to start the fight. Khabilov immediately assumed the role as counter striker as Henderson pressed forward, Hendersons aggressive style led to a takedown by Rustam before Benson scrambled to safety. Benson continued with his aggressive approach backing Rustam up who still looked dangerous often landing heavy punches but never in bunches which was his undoing. A takedown for Henderson ended the first round of this very close contest.
This fight has a pattern of early trading before Henderson rushed in, and this was the case in the second, Benson initiated the clinch which led to a Khabilov takedown with Ben again easily getting up and moving on. The most dangerous part of the round for Rustam happened Ben took his back from the clinch and locked in a body-lock, Khabilov kept his composure and managed to escape, back to the feet we went where it was more of Henderson attacking. A sharp left hook landed for Rustam to end the round, again close but with Henderson pressing the action.
The pattern continued,Henderson rushing in to be taken down only to reverse position and rise to his feet again. Khabilov while showing he can take Henderson down did no damage whatsoever in the fight and it is Henderson aggression that is dictating the fight. Benson opened up more and landed some heavy leg kicks that visibly buckled Khabilov, Benson again rushes in only to be taken down, again! Ben showcased his ground game by transitioning from bottom to top and finishing the round on top.
Into the Championship round and this is where the former Champ took control, while rushing in is his trademark style Benson delivered a devastating one, two that floored Rustam, and in the blink of an eye Henderson had his back and the tap came seconds later to end the bout.
Rustam will lose little stock in this defeat as many still see him as a future contender at 27, possible matches with Bobby Green and Joe Lauzon might be in line fore the Russian.
Henderson has shown that he is still in the top three lightweights in the world and a match-up with Khabilov`s team-mates Khabib Nurmagomedov seems likely to happen to determine the number one contender.