SAN JOSE, Calif. – Benson Henderson dropped to one knee shortly after engaging Gilbert Melendez in a rousing lightweight title fight at the HP Pavilion.

He fell to his knee right after ring announcer Bruce Buffer read the judges’ scores in a fight that could've gone either way.

Normally that reaction would indicate disappointment, but after winning a split decision over Melendez to keep his championship, Henderson decided to propose to girlfriend Maria Magana.

A lot happens at UFC shows, but seeing a champion drop to his knee and put a ring on his fiancée's finger is a first. Even though he went five grueling, fast-paced physical rounds with one of the best fighters in the world, Henderson admitted the toughest task he faced on Saturday was to go through with the proposal.

“That one takes the cake,” he said of a very public proposal, which came not only in front of 13,506 fans, but in front of a national television audience on Fox, as well.

[Results: Benson Henderson ekes out narrow decision win over Gilbert Melendez]

He’d been toying with proposing all week and kept going back and forth, not deciding until a couple of hours before the fight. As he mulled it over, he came to the conclusion that Magana is the most important person in his life and he wanted to make the proposal memorable.

He decided to go ahead, even though he said his heart was pounding. It’s remarkable he remains so calm while taking punches and kicks from a vicious fighter like Melendez, but four words – will you marry me? – had him shaking.

“There are a lot more important things in life than fighting,” Henderson said. “I love fighting. I love being able to pay my bills. I love the lifestyle I’m able to live, but sometimes, you’ve got to take care of things that are a lot more important.”

He fights as if there is nothing more important. On Saturday, he kept a frenetic pace and engaged Melendez in an action bout that could have been Fight of the Night if it had occurred on a different card.

On this one though, it never had a chance. There were a series of great bouts with a record-tying eight knockouts in the 12 fights.

Still, the back-and-forth nature of the main event captivated the audience.

Melendez dictated the pace early, and the crowd sensed an upset. Inexplicably, the former Strikeforce lightweight champion backed off and it wound up costing him.

“I took my foot off the gas a little after the second,” said Melendez, who said later he was heartbroken. “The third was close and I thought I came strong [down the stretch]. I thought it was going to come down to the last round and I thought I won the last round. But I’ve got to watch it. Ben’s a stud. What can I say?”

[Also: Josh Thomson rolls over Nate Diaz in triumphant return to UFC]

Judge Derek Cleary scored it 48-47 for Henderson, giving the champion the last three rounds. Michael Bell also had it 48-47 for Henderson, but he gave Henderson Rounds 2, 3 and 4. Wade Vierra saw it 48-47 for Melendez, giving the ex-Strikeforce champion Rounds 1, 4 and 5.

Henderson admitted he dropped the first round, which all three judges gave to Melendez. But he said he felt he swept the final four to win the bout.

The only rounds all three judges saw the same were the first and the third, which reflected the close, bitterly fought nature of the fight.

“Everybody was talking about how they scored the fight,” UFC president Dana White said. “Some people had it a draw. Some people had Ben winning. It was one of those fights. It’s a Ben Henderson fight. As soon as it’s over, they’re asking if the guy is going to get an immediate rematch.”

It was asked plenty on Saturday, and the answer couldn’t have pleased Melendez. White said that Gray Maynard will fight T.J. Grant at UFC 160 next month, with the winner getting the next shot at Henderson.

As good as Henderson has become – he’s now 19-2 overall and 7-0 in the UFC, including four consecutive title-fight victories – he lacks the finishing ability that has made light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and middleweight champion Anderson Silva superstars.

He’s a complete fighter who has no discernible weakness, but it’s been 20 months since he had a decisive victory and three years since he got a finish.

For him to vault to the upper echelon, that’s going to be the next thing he needs to add to his game. To be fair, he’s fighting great opposition, though Jones is too and he’s running away from the field.

Henderson, though, wasn’t worried about finishes or rankings or titles after the bout on Saturday. Finally deciding to propose, and hearing Magana say yes, was clearly a relief.

She leapt into his arms, and they embraced as the pro-Melendez crowd slowly started to turn from booing the decision to cheering the proposal.

“I finally manned up and did it,” he said, beaming.

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev had boxing aspirations | Photos
James Harrison scheduled to face Steelers twice this season
Kansas State coach says college football is 'in a bad place'
Mets fans celebrate announcement of capture of bombing suspect

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

Amanda Nunes: 'I'm Going to Make a Statement (UFC 207 Video) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 28 days ago
  • 19 views

Amanda Nunes is ready to make another statement next week. "The Lioness" defends her title for the first time against former champ Ronda Rousey at UFC 207. read news >>

UFC Fight Night 103 results: Sergio Pettis wins third straight, tops ex-title challenger John Moraga

  • 7 days ago
  • 4 views

PHOENIX – Sergio Pettis shredded John Moraga on the feet early on, then met him takedown for takedown down the stretch, as if to prove that he can do it all when he needs to. Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET): UFC featherweight and ex-Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez

  • 4 days ago
  • 2 views

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guest Gilbert Melendez.Filed under: MMAjunkie Radio, News, UFC read news >>

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2366 with Gilbert Melendez

  • 3 days ago
  • 1 views

Stream or download Thursday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guest Gilbert Melendez.Filed under: News, Radio, UFC read news >>

UFC 209 title fights about best vs. the best

  • 3 days ago
  • 7 views

At UFC 209, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley defends his title against No. 1-ranked Stephen Thompson. Also, No. 1-ranked lightweight Khabib Nuramgomedov meets No. 2-ranked Tony Ferguson for th read news >>

Gilbert Melendez wants 'one last run' at UFC title – and at featherweight

  • 4 hours ago
  • 8 views

With three consecutive losses on his record, Gilbert Melendez is looking to make a significant change as he heads down the final stretch of a nearly 15-year career.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, read news >>

Kamaru Usman wants to make UFC matchmakers' job easy by laying out fight schedule

  • 2 hours ago
  • 8 views

UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman figures from his current position in the 170-pound class, he has about four jumps to make before he’s champion. Filed under: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, read news >>

UFC's Kelvin Gastelum bothered by weight doubts but admits 'I've brought it onto myself'

  • an hour ago
  • 4 views

Happy with the headliner spot opposite “legend” Vitor Belfort in Brazil, Kelvin Gastelum says his future as far as weight divisions go is riding on one simple factor: “I want a fight that will get me read news >>

Dear Bellator: Thanks for Making the Fights That the UFC Shouldn't

  • 2 days ago
  • 354 views

Saturday night in Inglewood, California, a legend will make his walk one last time while another will return to make it for the first time in three years at Bellator 170. Tito Ortiz, he of the flamin read news >>

Ovince Saint Preux gets new opponent – UFC's first Switzerland native – for UFC Fight Night 104

  • 2 days ago
  • 31 views

Ovince Saint Preux has a new opponent for next month’s UFC Fight Night 104 event.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>